You will need a lawyer to close your real estate transaction. Choosing the right lawyer is not something that should be taken lightly. Clients often ask me to recommend a lawyer and one of their criteria is “Who is the cheapest?” Do not automatically go for the cheapest lawyer! One of the best ways to find a good lawyer is to ask friends or relatives for a recommendation. That way you will not think that the recommendation is tainted by an agent’s opinion. They may not remember all the good things about their lawyer but will most definitely let you know about the bad things! If you ask a Realtor for a recommendation they should give you three names with no personal bias.
Yes, definitely call the lawyer and ask for prices but also pay attention to how the lawyer treats and talks to you. First impressions count and you want to deal with someone who makes you feel comfortable.
Do he/she ask you questions about your situation or just spit out a price because they figure you are a price shopper? How you are treated on your first phone call can be an indicator of how you will be treated if you decide to become a client.
Do you talk to the actual lawyer or an assistant? In some of the larger firms you may deal with law clerks a lot of the time. Nothing wrong with that, just be aware of who you will be talking to in the future.
Be sure to ask what is included in the fee. Some lawyers bundle their fees to be all inclusive and some charge a fee plus disbursements. Ask about any additional or potential surprise costs.
Be sure to ask about title insurance. It should be a no-brainer for a lawyer to recommend it.
You also want a lawyer who is experienced and specializes in real estate. Someone who does most of their business with the type of real estate you are dealing with.
When I was dealing with my last real estate lawyer, who unfortunately recently retired, I did not bother to ask him his costs until I saw it on his closing costs statement. What was more important to me was he was a good lawyer and took care of me. He probably wasn’t the cheapest but he was fair with his prices.
I’m not trying to give you all the answers here, I am just trying to bring your attention to some topics to consider when choosing a lawyer for your next real estate purchase or sale.
James Myers is a Realtor with Royal LePage First Contact Realty and has been helping home sellers and buyers in Barrie, Innisfil, Springwater, Essa and Oro/Medonte in the Province of Ontario, Canada with their home ownership dreams since 1998.