I am often asked at presentations that I deliver around the country “How do I go about finding a solicitor in my area that is right for my needs?”
It is essential when selecting a solicitor that you engage someone who will act always in your best interests, without the fear of upsetting or offending someone else in the transaction, particularly the real estate agent.
I recommend that you tackle this problem in this way:
- Ask around amongst your circle of friends and fellow investors for the name of a solicitor that they have used personally for their real estate investments.
- If you cannot find the name of someone that your acquaintances or friends can vouch for, ring the Law Institute or Law Society for your State and ask them to recommend a solicitor who has at least ten years experience in handling property transactions.Ask them to recommend someone in the suburbs or in a regional area that you can get access to and not in the CBD (the rents are a lot higher in the CBD and therefore the hourly rate the solicitor will charge you will be higher).
Ideally the solicitor should be someone who is an accredited Property Law Specialist (the Law Society in each state accredit solicitors and specialist Property Lawyers in the same way that the medical profession has specialist doctors).
- Interview the solicitor personally, but don’t tell them that you will be interviewing them. Any solicitor worth their salt will have plenty of work to do and if you tell them you want to interview them to decide whether you are going to select them as your solicitor, they won’t be interested.To put it simply and from their perspective, why should they spend valuable fee earning time talking to you when they already have fee paying files sitting on their desk that they could work on.
I suggest you tell the solicitor that you have been recommended to them (and give that person’s name) and that you would like to make an appointment to talk to them about your property investments. If you have found their name from the Law Institute of Law Society, tell them that as well.
- [sam id=32 codes=’true’] First question you should ask the solicitor is “Do you invest in real estate yourself?”
If the answer is no, you are dealing with the wrong professional. How can they be expected to understand and appreciate issues with your real estate investments if they have no such investments themselves.
Seek out another solicitor.
- If the answer to the first question is yes, ask them whether they do the work personally. If they don’t do the work personally, then ask to speak to the person who does and start back at question one.
- Ask the solicitor whether they handle the work on a daily basis. The last thing you want to do is to be dealing with a middle aged professional who over the last 20 years has been a family law specialist, but has lost her last five major cases in the family law arena.
The word has spread amongst the people that refer her business and her sources of work have dried up. She is looking to re-train herself in real estate work.
I mean “How hard can it be if that Balanda fellow can do it” she says.
My point is that you don’t want her learning on the job (your job) whilst handling your file.
- Ask the solicitor whether they accept referrals from the agent that you are dealing with. If they receive 20 referrals from that agent every year, should some issue arise where they will have to stand up for you without fear or favour, will they do so.
Or, are they the agent’s friend and look for some simple expeditious solution that allows the matter to proceed so the agent collects their commission.
- The cynics amongst you might be thinking “Just a minute, haven’t solicitors got ethical standards to adhere to and shouldn’t they always be acting in my best interests if I’m paying the bill?”
- If this is what you think, you are naive and this is a wake up call. The reality is that they are in business too and survive in business like all of us by building and maintaining relationships and associations.
- Preserving that relationship may be more important to them than standing up for your rights.
If you’re serious about property investment please join me and a group of property and tax experts at my upcoming Property Market and Economic Updates that I’ll be conducting in 4 states in August and September 2013
I will be presenting a heap of BRAND NEW content I haven’t discussed in public before. I guarantee there will be several things I reveal that you are not doing and you should be!
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