The real estate lawyer job description varies widely depending on the type of transaction involved. Real estate attorneys assist purchasers, sellers, developers, borrowers and lenders in the acquisition, financing, sale, development, and leasing of residential, commercial, and industrial properties. Clients may include individuals, corporations, financial institutions, insurance companies, and pension funds.
So what does a real estate attorney do? Regardless of the type of real estate transaction, a real estate attorney spends most of his or her time negotiating the terms of the real estate transaction and drafting agreements that reflect the terms of the deal. Negotiations regarding transactions involving the purchase, sale, development or financing high value commercial or industrial real estate in particular can be quite complex. Such negotiations require that the real estate attorneys meet multiple times and exchange several iterations of the transaction documentation before reaching agreements on all terms.
Many real estate attorneys only become involved in transactions when the client is ready to close on a sale, purchase, or refinancing of a property. In these types of transactions a real estate lawyer’s typical day is spent reviewing and assembling the closing documents and attending the closing. In preparation for a closing, the real estate lawyer will examine title records in search of liens, judgments, easements and other encumbrances on the title. The real estate attorney will also confirm that there are no problems in the deeds in the chain of title. The attorney must organize all of the transaction’s closing documents and be prepared to explain in detail the content of each document to ensure that the client understands the terms of the transaction. After the closing, the attorney will record the deed and mortgage.
Being a successful real estate attorney requires patience and attention to detail as a great deal of time will be spent reviewing and drafting complex documents. Law students interested in pursuing careers as real estate attorneys should considering taking elective courses such as Secured Transactions, Land Use, Landlord-Tenant Law, Negotiation/Mediation, Real Estate Brokerage Law and Real Estate Development.