Step by Step
Sign My Fee Agreement
My fee agreement is designed to be consumer friendly and even includes a cancellation provision (something you won’t find in the Realtor fee agreement). I am happy to send it to you. My fees, other than the non-refundable fees, are only payable if I collect the commission check on your file.
I have a staggered flat fee schedule for legal services based upon the list price of the property. If the listing price is between 300k and 400k my fee is $4000 and rises in $1000 increments for each 100k in purchase price. This flat fee is deducted from the commission check I receive from the listing broker. I ONLY get paid if I am successful collecting the commission check. There should be no out of pocket costs to you other than my non-refundable fees for showings: $44 per showing, and $250 drafting per property ($250 for the first property and $125 after). I do not have a $500 “junk fee” that most Realtors will charge you.
Get Auto-emails of Listings
I have all the same tools that Realtors have (technically I am one). I have full MLS access, Showing Time access, electronic lockbox access, ability to view comparable properties and much, much more. When you see a property that interests you, send me an email with the property address that you are interested in. I will then send you data on that listing and analyze it with you. If you want to see it, I will set up a showing for you. I will also work on a comparable market analysis to help us determine together a buying strategy.
If you are interested in a property, it is important to gather as much data as possible. I typically obtain the Sellers’ Property Disclosure, tax records, parcel maps and much more information for my clients. If available online, we also try to get building permit information to properly account for any construction that occurred on the property.
Advice and Counsel
Prior to writing any offers, I will advise my clients on all aspects of the process. I will provide comparable sales and other data to my clients to help them determine if they want to write an offer and the terms of that offer. I will often call the listing agent to find out if there are other offers and find out what their seller is looking for in an offer. I will counsel and negotiate the transaction through inspection and all the way through closing. Together we will develop a negotiating strategy. Unlike Realtors, I am a licensed attorney and am qualified to review your closing documents for you (at no extra charge).
Many buyers are being encouraged by so-called buyer agents to write offers that are not contingent upon an inspection. I strongly discourage writing offers like that. I believe that you need to get a property fully inspected including the sewer line, chimney and other inspections (depending on the property) as well as a radon test. I even recommend it for new construction. We can always declare to the seller that we are not going to call out minor items, but an inspection is a necessary step for almost all transactions.
Not only do you have a negotiating advantage because you have an attorney working exclusively for you (I will never represent the buyer and seller in the same transaction), you also have a unique advantage because of my fee structure. In competitive bidding situations my buyers often take the commission refund and give some or all of it to the seller. This makes your offer far more appealing than other buyers’ offers.
Realtors go to closing to pick up their commission checks. They are not allowed to advise you about the closing process. I review the title work and closing documents prior to closing as your lawyer and those services are included in my fee. I do not attend closing (there is no reason to be there).
After closing the title company will send me the commission check. I characterize this money as unearned fees since I don’t get paid a commission. I get paid legal fees. So I deposit this money in my trust account on your behalf. Once it clears my account I write you a check for the commission refund less my legal fees (typically slightly more than 1%). Or, if the lender disallows it, we can apply some or all of the money towards the purchase price of the property.