Real estate attorney jobs have always been a necessity, especially in developed countries. In the real estate world, legal professionals can have either one of two primary tasks. The first is to act as litigators, focusing on real cases, while the second has to do with handling numerous legal aspects of real estate transactions. In other words, real estate lawyer jobs mostly involve mediating real estate transactions that have gone sour and dealing in real property.
Opting to become an attorney for real estate means you’ll have the opportunity to work on several cases. For example, you may opt to focus on litigating fraud cases, concentrating on zoning laws, subdivisions, or land use. Additionally, you may choose to prosecute fraud cases like mortgage fraud or disclosure fraud.
At the same time, you can choose to pursue a specialization in commercial or residential real estate. Either way, real estate lawyer services encompass a wide range of areas and disciplines, so here’s a closer look at what these highly skilled legal professionals do.
- Real estate attorney
- Junior real estate attorney
- Real estate finance associate
Attorney for Real Estate Job Description
As aforementioned, a real estate law career allows legal professionals to handle a wide variety of legal issues. You can expect to be in charge of various real property transactions, such as tenant concerns, zoning, mortgages, and the transfer of deeds and titles. Regardless of whether you’ll be working on multimillion-dollar skyscraper development or the sale of a bungalow, your knowledge of real estate law will be essential to your everyday job.
Working with Individuals
The real estate attorney job description involves opportunities to seek employment in the service of individuals who need attorneys to negotiate the complicated details of a lease, sale, or purchase of a property. Simultaneously, battling to change zoning laws, rehabbing an existing property, or acquiring land for development are situations in which corporations often require your legal expertise.
Another interesting example of real estate attorney jobs includes successfully guiding individuals through purchasing a building or house. This process starts by discussing with the client to learn the details of the purchase.
The goal is to determine what type of property precisely the client is interested in acquiring. Real estate attorneys may receive requests to give referrals or advice regarding home inspectors, mortgage brokers, real estate agencies, or even financing options.
Property owners can choose to give lawyers complete power of attorney for real estate. This means that owners will hand over all responsibility to attorneys to manage, sell, or lease properties on their behalf.
Real estate lawyers doing property law jobs will likely need to follow the same steps when representing the other party (seller). One crucial difference is the fact that you may need to draft a report on property disclosure.
Put simply, your job under such circumstances will be to prepare/execute a punch list, initiate any changes, explain confusing terminology, or review any pending contracts.
An attorney for real estate transaction also represents clients at closing. Activities under such circumstances include answering any remaining general questions from their clients, ensuring that escrow and tax calculations are accurate and contracts and other documents are in order.
Working with Multiple Parties Simultaneously
Moreover, problematic tenants are another situation in which hiring a real estate attorney becomes the best option for owners of a multi-unit apartment building. A real estate expert is often necessary for drafting or reviewing by-laws in such apartment buildings.
Condominium homeowners associations often seek out the expertise of these legal professionals to help with the list of regulations that members need to follow (by-laws). Yet another example of real estate legal jobs involves preparing a declaration in such situations. This declaration represents a list of regulations to form a sense of unity with the homeowners within a living community.
Things become even more exciting in terms of attorney real estate jobs if these legal professionals become involved in multi-property cases that are larger and more complex. Examples of such situations may involve negotiating the purchase or sale of a parcel of land, a warehouse, an office building, or a high-rise building on behalf of big corporations. Reviewing zoning laws and inspecting titles fall under your duties as the in-house real estate attorney.
In some cases, you may need to engage in rezoning the location in question from commercial to residential, or vice versa. It’s also not unheard of that you assist in bidding for the property’s final price as one of your many real estate attorney responsibilities.
Working with Local Governments
There are many job openings for various projects with local governments, as well. For instance, if you know of an undeveloped piece of land that town officials wish to use to build a sports or entertainment complex, your services may be ideal.
As a legal professional, you will likely need to investigate public records and deeds to establish property titles. This situation is a perfect example of a commercial real estate attorney job description.
Additionally, before construction begins, it may fall upon you to handle the surveyor’s reports, land inspections, and zoning issues to ensure everything goes smoothly and without delays.
Educational Requirements for Real Estate Broker and Attorney Jobs
The essential requirement in terms of real estate attorney qualifications is a Juris Doctorate from an accredited school. The critical thing to keep in mind here is that the school’s accreditation must be from the American Bar Association. Additionally, passing the bar exam will provide you with an attorney’s license, which is the second qualification you need to practice law.
The great thing about attending law school is that some might offer students the opportunity to specialize in real estate law early on. At the same time, applying for internships during your studies is always a great idea to start building a stand-out real estate attorney resume.
Internships are also an excellent way to gain the necessary skills to land your job of choice in the future. At the same time, please remember that you may need to continue your education, typically every year or three years.
Real Estate Attorney vs. Realtor
Buying a home is the most expensive investment people can make. Upon doing so, it’s good to hire knowledgeable professionals to ensure you get what you pay for.
However, choosing which professional will represent you is not easy, as there is a significant difference between a real estate attorney and a realtor. Real estate attorneys prepare and review all documents and represent the client during closing.
On the other hand, realtors can be real estate agents or brokers who must be members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and abide by strict rules and guidelines. These professionals must ensure their clients receive truthful, honest, and transparent treatment while avoiding misrepresentation, exaggeration, or concealment of any kind.
Real Estate Attorney Career Examples
Real estate law jobs for attorneys vary depending on a multitude of factors. We gave you just a couple of examples, but we’d also like to focus on some of the most common positions you could apply for. The following examples are a bit more precise and include more detailed requirements that reflect the state of the job market today.
Real Estate Attorney
The most important thing to keep in mind is that becoming a real estate attorney and finding employment as one are not the same things. Most real estate attorney positions will require some form of previous experience (usually around two years), typically in commercial real estate investments and funds. Some firms will also need you to have experience in working for a large firm, and possibly joint venture experience.
Additionally, real estate counsel jobs typically require strong transactional and drafting skills. For most positions, it can also be helpful to have experience in environmental matters, as well as construction, financing, and leasing. Oral communication and excellent writing and research skills are also a decisive factor.
In case you find employment as a real estate attorney, some of your responsibilities will be to prepare joint venture agreements, represent institutional investors in private real estate funds, draft real estate fund documents, and so forth.
Junior Real Estate Attorney
As far as in-house real estate attorney jobs go, your safest option is to aim for a junior real estate attorney position. Nowadays, candidates for such positions will mostly focus on commercial real estate finance, but you shouldn’t expect to work exclusively in this area of real estate law.
Just like requirements for senior real estate attorney jobs, you’ll most likely need to have at least several years of working on the representation of financial institutions in lending transactions and the like. However, please keep in mind that the specific requirements for each position will depend on the employer. Real estate law jobs, in general, require excellent academic credentials mostly from top-tier law schools.
Real Estate Finance Associate
As the word implies, seeking employment as a finance associate is also an excellent example of real estate lawyer job opportunities. You should be well-versed in finance, and ideally have more than three years of experience. Being involved in financing real estate assets and working with private equity funds in connection with acquisitions will likely be among your job responsibilities.
An additional task may be to prepare joint venture agreements on behalf of institutional investors. You may also need to represent investors in private real estate funds and arrange real estate fund documents.
Many real estate finance associates also need to be capable of running transactions with minimal oversight and have enough business experience to build relationships with clients. If you have such qualities, aiming for commercial real estate attorney jobs is probably the safest option.
Real Estate Lawyer Salary and Job Outlook
While real estate attorney salary heavily depends on the job experience and hourly rates, the average yearly salary amounts to $118,000. However, attorneys usually decide to charge fees per transaction most commonly paid after the closing.
That said, the typical attorney fees for real estate closing vary depending on the location or complexity of the transaction. Generally, though, fees may span from $5,000 to $12,500 for a home valued at $250,000.
Moreover, another typical way to increase real estate lawyer fees includes becoming a partner or looking to land a position in a large firm. It’s worth noting that while an in-house real estate attorney salary may vary much like an outside counsel’s, an in-house legal professional typically has a more natural path ahead when it comes to promotions and gaining partner status.
As far as real estate attorney job outlook goes, the truth is that the need for real estate attorneys has been on a slow decline in the industry. The main reason for this trend has been the recession with a similar decline in the housing market. Because the real estate attorney cost is no small matter even for large firms, these legal professionals have had less than ideal employment opportunities in recent years.
Real estate companies typically find creative ways to compensate for such a decline. Many firms usually cut the number of lawyers they hire and offer accounting and paralegal jobs to perform similar duties instead.
However, the situation is far from dire. Real estate lawyer jobs still exist in other locations/states, so you can improve your job opportunities by being willing to relocate. Please keep in mind that relocating to another state also means re-taking the bar exam.
If you prefer or specialize in commercial real estate, you may seek employment alongside full-time litigators and environmental lawyers in large firms. Specializing more narrowly for real estate closing attorney jobs or becoming an attorney for real estate dispute works quite well in such large firms.
As aforementioned, alternative employment opportunities are also available with the government, corporations, lending or financial institutions, title companies, or even real estate development companies. You can also start your practice, although this typically means you’ll need to focus on residential real estate transactions.
Despite the economy not being at 100%, there is absolutely no shortage of real estate attorney jobs. It takes quite a few years and a lot of hard work to become one of these admirable legal professionals, but the hard work pays off. Being a real estate attorney means that you’ll be an expert in real estate law and a community member that will help make a positive change in your environment.
As a real estate lawyer, you’ll work alongside your clients to ensure the fulfillment of all legal requirements, that all the necessary paperwork is in order, and that their property transaction goes smoothly. Remuneration is excellent in this sector, making it more than appealing for future legal professionals regardless of their position. Good luck!