For most of us, buying a home will be one of the biggest financial undertakings of our lives. And even for seasoned business owners, developers, and investors, it’s hard to deny that each new property deal comes with a unique thrill – and a fresh set of challenges waiting to be uncovered.

When it comes to buying or selling real estate, surrounding yourself with the right team is an unbelievably important step of the process. Brokers, insurance agents, inspectors, and, yes, attorneys all have a distinct role to play in making sure that your transaction goes off without a hitch, leaving you with a deal – and a property – that you’ll be happy with for years to come.

While we may admittedly be a little biased on this front, we think that real estate attorneys have one of the most important jobs there is. For buyers and sellers alike, your attorney will be a crucial partner. They’ll help with contract reviews and negotiations, look over vital paperwork, assist with title searches and insurance, and generally help you ensure that you place the right documents in front of the right people at the right time – all resulting in the best possible deal for you.

With all this in mind, it’s important to find a real estate lawyer who will be the right fit for you. What does it take to find a qualified pro, one who you can work with easily?

Here are five important questions to ask yourself as you look into bringing on the right real estate attorney for your needs:

1.) Are They Qualified?

A degree up on a wall is one thing – and, undeniably, it’s an important thing. But it doesn’t tell the whole story about a lawyer or their team.

In general, before bringing on an attorney for anything, take some time to really get to know about them. How many years have they been practicing? Do they have experience with cases or situations like yours – particularly if it’s going to be a more complex process?

When it comes to real estate, absolutely every case is going to be unique, and contingent on a huge number of factors – from the buyers and sellers themselves, to the type of property being transferred. Bottom line? It’s important to work with a legal professional who has experience with cases like yours, and can bring that insight and comfort level to bear for you.

2.) Do They Have References or Recommendations?

Is your potential attorney able to provide references, upon request? This is an important question to ask. At the same time, remember that this is the 21st century, and there will often be a lot of information out there about your attorney online.

While you can’t always trust review and rating sites to tell the full story, take a look at the attorney’s website, professional listings, or social media profiles. Is their online presence accessible? Informative? Does it seem like they’re genuinely engaging and informing online, or are they just making the hard sell?

Personal references can also go a long way toward helping you feel comfortable with your choice of attorney. The Chicago real estate community is large, but connected. Brokers, service professionals, and others may be able to help you get a sense of your attorney’s level of professionalism, attention to detail, and quality of service.

3.) Will They Be Able to Handle My Needs?

As we’ve mentioned already, real estate transactions in Chicago – and Illinois more broadly – run the gamut. Some matters will be quick and (relatively) painless; others will be complex and lengthy processes, requiring deep insight into local laws, zoning ordinances, and so on.

As you consult with different attorneys, or consider whether a recommended attorney is the right fit for you, be sure to consider whether they’ll be able to handle your case.

For example, remember that there are various real estate laws specific to Chicago, including lease and rental agreement laws, security deposit laws, commercial development laws, and many more. Similarly, a real estate purchase or sale could have long-term implications for you, especially your financial goals – including tax liabilities, access to cash when you need it, estate transitions, and a whole lot more.

Will your chosen attorney be able to handle a wide range of services, with not only legal expertise but financial insight?

4.) Can I Communicate Easily With Them and Their Team?

Ultimately, one of the most important parts of working with an attorney is finding someone you can communicate with. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Will you be able to have a successful working relationship with this person or their team?
  • Are they someone that you’d feel comfortable turning to in a moment of crisis, or with questions that you may not be able to take anywhere else?
  • Is their communication style a fit with yours?
  • Do they bring the level of technical savvy and insight it takes to stay connected in 2018?

All of these questions matter! Insight, expertise, patience, and a willingness to communicate lofty concepts – all of these may be important things to look for in a real estate attorney.

5.) Are They Upfront and Direct?

Generally speaking, a successful relationship is built on trust and communication. Getting information or updates from your attorney shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth, or playing an endless game of telephone.

From the word “go,” you should be able to ask your attorney about important matters, ranging from billing questions, to how their team designates or divides up labor among team members, like clerks, paralegals, and different attorneys.

Looking to Find Out More?

The attorneys and staff of The Gunderson Law Firm specialize in helping individuals and businesses throughout Illinois with real estate transactions insightfully, promptly, and professionally.

Whether you are a couple wanting to buy or build a house, a corporation converting commercial properties to residential, or a commercial developer looking to change the Chicago skyline, The Gunderson Law Firm can help. Drop us a line or give us a call today to discuss our full range of real estate legal services, or set up your free initial consultation.