Selling a home can be a complicated and stressful process. In addition to the physical and emotional effort of preparing and showing your home, there are also legal considerations that can easily become overwhelming. To ensure that your home sale goes smoothly and successfully, it is crucial to work with an experienced real estate lawyer who can guide you through the legal requirements and negotiations and also work collaboratively with your real estate agent. Here are the top 10 questions to ask when interviewing a lawyer for your home sale.
What is your experience in residential real estate transfers in my area?
It is important to work with a lawyer who has experience in residential real estate law as you want to work with a lawyer who is familiar with the issues that can arise in a residential sale transaction in your area. It’s important that they have knowledge of and experience with contracts, title insurance policies, zoning regulations, and other legal requirements specific to the sale of real estate. Ask about the lawyer’s experience and how they can help you navigate the legal aspects of your home sale.
What are your fees? What other expenses should I anticipate?
Understanding the lawyer’s fees is crucial to avoid unexpected costs. Ask about whether they charge a flat or hourly fee, what their retainer fees are, and any other expenses that may be associated with their services. Additionally, ask about any additional costs you may incur at closing, including the NJ Real Estate Transfer Tax, an escrow against your state income taxes (commonly, but erroneously called the “Exit Tax”), and adjustments for property taxes and/or HOA assessments.
Can you provide references from previous clients?
References from previous clients can give you a sense of the lawyer’s expertise and customer service. Ask for references and follow up with them to get a sense of their experience working with the lawyer.
How will you communicate with me throughout the process?
Clear communication is key to a successful home sale. Ask the lawyer how they will keep you informed throughout the process, such as through email or phone calls and if you should expect to primarily interact with them or a member of their support staff. It’s also important to have an understanding of how quickly you should expect a reply when you reach out to them.
What legal issues do you foresee with my home sale?
A good real estate lawyer should be able to identify any legal issues that may arise during the sale process. Ask the lawyer to identify any potential issues that may arise and how they would handle them.
Can you tell me more about your approach to attorney review of the purchase contract I will sign?
The sales contract is a crucial legal document that outlines the terms of the sale. New Jersey provides an opportunity for a lawyer to review the contract and cancel it or modify the terms before it is legally binding (“attorney review”). Ask the lawyer how they approach their review of the contract as well as negotiations to modify the terms of the contract to ensure that your interests are protected.
Can you assist with title searches and resolving title issues?
Title searches are necessary to ensure that there are no legal issues with the property, such as liens or claims. Ask the lawyer how they can assist with title searches and resolving any issues that may arise.
How will you handle negotiations with the buyer or their lawyer?
Negotiations with the buyer or their lawyer can be complex and require legal expertise. Ask the lawyer how they will handle negotiations to ensure that your interests are protected.
Can you assist with the closing and disbursement of funds?
Closing is the final stage of the home sale process, where the buyer and seller sign the necessary documents and funds are disbursed. Ask the lawyer if they can assist with the closing and disbursement of funds to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
How do I get in touch with you if I have questions or concerns?
Finally, it is important to know how to get in touch with the lawyer if you have questions or concerns. Ask for their contact information and how they prefer to be contacted.
Selling a home is a complex process that requires careful consideration and legal expertise. Working with an experienced real estate lawyer familiar with the issues that can arise in the area in which you are selling can help you navigate the legal requirements and negotiations to ensure a successful home sale. By asking these 10 questions when interviewing a lawyer, you can make an informed decision and ensure that your interests are protected throughout the process.