How do you choose a real estate attorney? What is it important to know? Today we are pleased to feature a Guest Blog by Attorney Michael Freeling, Esq. Michael has provided legal services to Brenner for various properties including work for Cypress Commons in Fort Lauderdale. We asked him what a tenant, owner, landlord, investor or seller should look for in a qualified real estate attorney.
FIND A DEAL MAKER, NOT A DEAL BREAKER: While you certainly want to find a Real Estate Attorney who is going to warn you of any issues of concern and provide you with knowledge on any “red flags” which may exist in a transaction, you also want to engage an attorney who has a keen “business sense” not to “over-lawyer” a deal. It is a balance of someone who is “thorough”; evaluates with specificity; yet, does not let minutia overtake the big picture goal of completing the transaction. My law partner, Jonathan Bloom and I always say that we are “businessmen who practice law, not lawyers who seek to kill a business transaction”.
FIND AN ATTORNEY WHO SPECIALIZES IN REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS AND HAS THE RIGHT EXPERIENCE: There are many attorneys out there who run “general practices” and whether your transaction is small or large, it is important to find an attorney whose practice is significantly “Real Estate” or real estate related. They should have experience dealing with buyers, sellers and lenders, whether the transaction is residential or commercial and whether the lender is institutional or private. Additionally, it is helpful to find an attorney who has represented different sides of a negotiation. For example, in a commercial lease negotiation, an attorney representing a tenant who also has a lot of experience representing landlords is likely to have a better understanding of what a landlord will or will not accept upfront. This can save time.
FIND A QUARTERBACK: Many times, a commercial real estate transaction could involve title issues, zoning issues, eminent domain concerns, tax ramifications, asset protection considerations, estate planning matters, financing obligations and a host of other “moving parts”. This may involve a need for marshaling and coordinating a “team of professionals” including but not limited to: land use specialists, eminent domain attorneys, accountants, 1031 Exchange intermediaries, trust & estate attorneys, lenders and others to work in concert and stay on track to meet transaction deadlines. The ability to assemble a team through long standing relationships of successfully working together on projects and to oversee and direct the “team” to stay on time within the context of a transaction requires a “quarterback” mentality. It is something that the client should be mindful of when engaging a real estate attorney.
FIND A GOOD COMMUNICATOR: A client should be kept informed and should have the comfort of knowing that they can reach the attorney with questions. A good real estate attorney communicates and updates the client throughout the different steps of the transaction and explains the inevitable “ups and downs” and procedures which are being followed from contract through closing. This seems simple enough, but it is surprising how many attorneys lack this necessary skill. Consistent communication and updates help to alleviate client concerns and help to avoid unnecessary surprises along the way.
Michael Freeling, Esq. is a partner at Bloom & Freeling, Attorneys at Law, 2295 NW Corporate Blvd, Suite 117, Boca Raton, FL 33431 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The firm assists clients with real estate legal or title insurance needs.