How to find a good real estate attorney

Hiring a good real estate attorney is one of the most important things you can do in your foreign real estate purchase. It is important to find one who is conversant with not only local law, but also is familiar with laws in your own country, particularly in areas such as tax, so that you lessen your liabilities and are kept on-track. Although attorneys may feel like a lot of money, a good attorney will be well worth the expense.

Firstly, you should shortlist three or four attorneys – do not be tempted to go with the first one you are recommended or the first one you find. If possible, do some preliminary research into each attorney, reviewing some of their more recent cases to ensure that they have gone well.

When you meet your attorney for the first time, there are several questions you should ask:

What experience do you have in real estate investing, in particular with foreign investors? If possible, look for an attorney who has worked with foreign investors – preferably from your home country – as they should have a better understanding of your country and what you expect.

How much of your practice is real estate? Depending on the market size, it should be at least 30-50%. The attorney you use should specialise in real estate although in smaller markets, you may find that there is less need for an attorney to devote all their time and practice to real estate.

How long have you practiced in real estate law? If possible, look for an attorney who has experience of real estate – five years or more is preferable.

Do you have other real estate investors as clients? It is better if your attorney has several real estate investors on his books as he will be more attuned to your needs. You can also contact other investors for references.

What are your fees? Larger firms tend to charge more because of their overheads, however do not discount smaller firms. You tend to get what you pay for so if someone seems unusually cheap, there is probably a catch somewhere.

Do you work with other real estate professionals? The attorney may be able to recommend and refer you to other professionals such as mortgage brokers, CPAs etc.

These are the main points you should ask each of the attorneys on your shortlist. From their answers, you should be able to determine which real estate attorney you feel will be best for you.

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