How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Real Estate Lawyer?
Reviewed by Carina Jenkins, J.D.
Real estate attorneys can handle everything from simple residential home purchases to complicated real estate litigation.
How much does a real estate lawyer cost? Your total cost will vary depending on the services you need and the area where you live.
According to Jones Property Law, the total real estate lawyer cost you'll pay can vary significantly, from $500 for a simple transaction to $15,000 or more for a larger transaction or complicated, drawn-out litigation. You can expect to pay an hourly rate of anywhere from $150 to $500 for the services of a real estate attorney. The lawyer's experience and your location are often the biggest factors in the hourly rate you'll pay.
You might also find real estate attorneys who charge flat rates for common services, such as preparing the documents for a home purchase closing. Lawyers sometimes do this for standard services with a predictable amount of work, so they can charge for their services accurately. It's often difficult to accurately predict how much time it will take for more involved or complex services, so they often fall under an hourly rate.
A major duty of a real estate attorney is helping clients when they buy or sell property, including homes, commercial property, land and other structures. They can draft or review contracts, prepare closing documents, give you advice on the transaction and handle negotiations and disputes.
A real estate lawyer can also handle real estate disputes and litigation not related to a new purchase or sale. This includes things such as boundary disputes, lease enforcement, evictions and construction disputes. This type of legal professional can essentially handle any legal issue related to real property, which includes land and structures. Here are some common services and the associated real estate attorney cost you can expect to pay.
You can expect to pay between $500 and $3,000 for an attorney to help you with a residential real estate transaction. The total real estate lawyer cost varies, depending on how involved the attorney is. If you just need help creating or reviewing a contract, you'll likely spend between $500 and $700. For legal counsel throughout the transaction, the price will likely be $1,000 to $1,500. Complex disputes or negotiations, as well as an attorney-run closing without a title company being involved, can cost you $1,500 to $3,000.
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Commercial real estate transactions are often a lot more expensive than residential purchases. Commercial property often costs significantly more and might come with additional legal services. You might have zoning or land use issues related to your commercial activities that create a lot of work for your lawyer.
Your legal fees for a commercial transaction could range from $1,500 to $30,000 or more. If you're making a small commercial purchase with a straightforward closing, you can expect your bill to be between $1,500 and $2,500. Slightly larger transactions or purchases with minor disputes or intense negotiations might cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. If you're making a very large purchase or have major legal issues, such as zoning compliance, you could pay $10,000 to $30,000 or more.
If you're a landlord, you might have to deal with evictions. You can't simply kick someone out of your rental property. You have to follow the eviction process in your state, which always involves legal documentation and possibly court appearances.
Large-scale landlords with many tenants may pay between $300 and $1,000 for each uncontested eviction. Landlords who don't normally work with a lawyer may end up paying slightly more. If the renter contests the eviction or there are other complicated matters at play, that cost could jump to $2,500 to $10,000. Filing fees can add $100 to $400, and the sheriff's fees can run from $50 to $400.
Real estate litigation typically falls under that hourly rate of $150 to $500 due to the unpredictable nature of the situation. It could be resolved quickly or drag on for months. If you hire a real estate lawyer to represent you in a small claims case related to property, you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000.
For civil cases, the preparation phase, including discovery and pretrial prep, will often range from $10,000 to $20,000. These cases can sometimes be settled without a trial. However, if you go to trial, you could pay more than $20,000. The total cost depends on the complexity of the situation and how the trial unfolds.
Checking on rates with different real estate attorneys can help you find an affordable option. Keep in mind that a cheap lawyer might not have as much legal experience and could cost you money on the transaction.
Being prepared and handling some of the work can also save on your total costs. For example, if you're dealing with a real estate dispute, gather your documentation and have the details written down before your first meeting. This preparation lets your attorney get to work faster and can save money on the hourly rate.
Consider how much you're interacting with the lawyer and what you're asking them to do. If your attorney charges you an hourly rate, they'll likely bill you for every phone call you have with them or every email they answer. Before you contact your lawyer, make sure it's important and necessary. If possible, save all your questions or concerns to send at once, instead of sending multiple smaller communications.
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