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Most investors do not realize the power of a good real estate closer and tend to pay the lowest possible fees. The value of having a good lawyer, not just a law firm, is to keep you away from problems you do not even know until it’s too late. I’m not talking about a title company that does not have a lawyer because in many states everyone can become a title agency and take out title insurance without being a lawyer. I’m talking about a lawyer who can give you legal advice and that is invaluable to you.
My career started when I bought a single-family home, and when I went to the closing, I realized that the closing lawyer knew less than I knew about the closing process. He was a family lawyer with very few degrees, and I took over the existing loan. There were five additional bills on the property, which I had the seller pay for. In fact, the seller had to bring money to conclusion and had not enough to pay the brokerage commission, so he had to sign a note with the broker to close – a personal note, no mortgage on the property.
In fact, I took the time to read the closing documents carefully and realized how incompetent the lawyer was. I decided to look into real estate investments and buy more real estate using this newly discovered no-money technique. My first experience was a great start, but then came the next 35 years of my career, which were even better! I still tell my students and other investors that every business is different. Rarely can a template be created that covers all contingencies that may occur in the chain of ownership or due to remorse of the buyer or seller.
It has been my experience that some of the best mentors for me were lawyers with whom I work in the industry and who actually complete real estate transactions. In my case, there were probably 10 lawyers in the last 35 years who have completed most of my business. The transactions that did not complete them were due to the seller or buyer selecting the title agent.
Most lawyers are grateful for a consultation. Some gurus even give you instructions on how to interview these estate attorneys, including getting their fee schedule and negotiating their fees before you make a deal. The fees should be the least of your concerns, because Penny Wise and Pound Stupidity can cost you many times the meager savings in a store.
The better option is for a lawyer to review your contract before handing it over to your seller or buyer. You only need to review your contract a few times as you can create a template and use it in most contracts. If you need additional information about a contract in a particular situation, call a lawyer and ask him for the exact language.
In conclusion, using a lawyer as a mentor to complete your contract is the best way to ensure that you are doing the right thing in your investment. Remember, though, that this is a one-way street. If you do not do business with him, your source of legal information may disappear. If you seek legal information or opinions from non-attorneys, you have little or no recourse. The lawyers, however, are insured against maladministration, and their advice comes from a respected source. Choose your lawyer carefully because he can be a great source of trust for your investment career.
Dave Dinkel has more than 35 years of real estate investment experience, giving him a unique perspective on the real estate market.