By Fred Matera, CIO, Redwood Trust A lack of affordability will lead to near-term weakness,…
Are you new to investing in real estate? Do you have specific questions that the internet cannot answer? Then contacting a real estate lawyer is the best option for you. But where do you start? It may be important to answer the following questions before selecting legal counsel.
1) What are the lawyer’s qualifications?
Understanding an attorney’s qualifications and background is critical when selecting legal counsel. The person representing you should fit the following categories:
- Has the proper credentials and license to practice in the states that you intend to invest in
- Has considerable experience in the real estate investment sector and has dealt with similar properties and transactions
- Exudes confidence and preparation (able to handle challenge when unforeseeable circumstances arise)
2) What are the rates/fee structure?
One of the last things investors want is getting surprised by a large bill. It’s important to ask the rates that you will be charged by the lawyers who will be working on the assignment. Make sure that you understand any hidden fees or other charges that may be imposed. Consider alternative fee structures that may allow for caps or other limitations on amounts that will be charged for specific types of transactions, especially if they require roughly the same amount of work. Do not be discouraged from asking prospective counsel for alternative fee options.
3) What is the law firm’s primary focus?
When selecting a firm it is essential to ask the following questions:
- What is your specialization and how much of your practice is dedicated to real estate law?
- Is there a chance you may have limitations on your ability to address legal matters, from conflicts of interest to time constraints?
- What are the qualifications of the other lawyers who may be working on the account?
It’s important to ensure that prospective counsel has been involved in similar types of transactions by asking counsel to identify, without breaching attorney client privilege, clients they have represented in similar transactions.
4) Will there be effective communication between client and counsel?
Oftentimes, a breakdown in communication between lawyer and client can result in significant problems with respect to the successful completion of a project. Surprisingly, clients often complain about the inability to contact their lawyers. Accordingly, it is important, upfront, to establish the ground rules on how communication will be handled by prospective counsel and the extent to which communication will be delegated to other lawyers within the selected law firm. It is not unreasonable for a client to expect that their counsel will keep them apprised of the status of ongoing matters.
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While the task of selecting responsible counsel is not an easy one, it is often critical to a successful long-term investment strategy. After all, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
CoreVest is a leading provider of financing solutions to residential real estate investors. We provide attractive long-term debt products for stabilized rental portfolios as well as credit lines for new acquisitions.