If you or someone you know has been a part of buying or selling a home or other property before, chances are there was a real estate lawyer involved. In fact, 21 states require a real estate lawyer to be involved in the closing process.
These lawyers specialize in the buying, selling, and leasing of real estate and can represent the buyer, seller, or lender—playing a key role in ensuring that property transactions are accurately documented so that the sale is compliant with the law. But it doesn’t stop there.
Let’s dig into more of the responsibilities, pay, and qualifications of a real estate lawyer.
Real Estate Lawyer Responsibilities
A real estate attorney specializes in the legal areas related to property including:
- Negotiating real estate deals
- Drafting and reviewing real estate contracts
- Conducting title searches
- Drafting title insurance policies
- Preparing closing documents
- Representing clients in legal cases and disputes
- Representing lenders in foreclosure actions
- Addressing zoning and land use issues
- Handling construction loans and contracts
Do real estate lawyers and realtors do the same thing? Short answer: they don’t. Lawyers handle the legal issues that come up during a real estate transaction. Realtors help with the entire process of buying or selling real estate, but they cannot give legal advice. They are typically licensed agents who are well versed in property marketing and negotiations, and they can prepare a purchase contract for a home. They may also charge their fees differently: hourly vs. commission.
Along with adding a real estate lawyer to your team, you may consider hiring a contract real estate attorney to work alongside them to balance the workload.
Where Do Real Estate Lawyers Work?
Most commonly, real estate lawyers work in law firms. Real estate lawyers are also often on staff within the legal departments of property firms, government agencies, or corporations. Title insurance companies and banks also might employ real estate lawyers to oversee transactions.
When hiring a real estate lawyer, it’s important to verify their credentials and expertise to be sure it meets your needs and state requirements. This might include:
- Bachelor’s degree: There isn’t really a dedicated undergraduate program for real estate lawyers in undergrad, so many hiring managers opt for attorneys who’ve studied business or economics, but there are many options.
- Juris Doctor (J.D.): This degree must be obtained from an accredited law school, many of which offer classes in real estate law.
- State bar admission: All but one state (Wisconsin) requires Juris Doctors to pass the bar exam to practice law.
Top Skills and Qualifications of a Real Estate Lawyer
During the hiring process, you’ll want to seek out knowledgeable candidates who can handle the demands or your real estate practice well. Here are some skills you could look out for:
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Persuasive negotiation abilities
- Strong attention to detail
- Comprehensive legal research
- Experience and expertise in the field
- Effective time-management and organization skills
- Analytical thinking
Finding an experienced real estate lawyer is a plus, but, like so many other roles, so is the right mix of hard and soft skills.
Creating a Job Description
The first step in finding and hiring the right real estate lawyer is creating an effective and comprehensive job description. The description should clearly lay out the skills, qualifications, experience, and education necessary to meet your needs. To avoid writing a cliché description, consider ways to remain inclusive and specific to attract the best candidate. From there, be sure to share it in places where candidates will see it to remain competitive in a tight job market.
A real estate lawyer’s salary can vary greatly depending on experience, location, and the size of the law firm or organization looking to hire. According to Salary.com, the average salary for a real estate lawyer is just over $160,000 annually.
Need Help Finding Candidates?
We understand how important it is to find a real estate lawyer who is a perfect fit for your needs. Insight Global can help you write a first-rate job description then find and vet top-notch real estate lawyer candidates. Connect with our experienced team of recruiters to get started!