The average real estate attorney fee for a purchase or sale transaction in NYC is $2,000 to $3,000. Lawyer fees can be as high as $5,000 for a more complex transaction and for new developments. There are also light-touch, discount lawyers available who charge flat fees as low as $750.
We answer the following questions about New York City real estate attorneys in this article, such as: Are fees paid upfront or hourly? Do you have to sign an agreement? There is also a sample real estate attorney Engagement Letter at the bottom of the page.
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Average Real Estate Attorney Fees in NYC
The typical real estate attorney based in NYC will charge anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 for a normal purchase or sale transaction.
The flat fee rates you are quoted will vary based on the complexity of your real estate transaction.
Rates are higher for real estate lawyers based in New York City vs attorneys based in lower cost locations such as Long Island or the Hudson Valley.
There are also discount real estate attorneys who charge a flat rate per transaction as low as $750.
It’s critically important to work with a real estate attorney that specializes in real estate deals in New York City as opposed to a lawyer who dabbles in a variety of fields such as criminal law and divorce. An attorney who is unfamiliar with NYC real estate may not be aware of the norms in a contract or the expected timeline for completing buyer due diligence and contract negotiation.
Read our guide on questions to ask your real estate attorney before you hire them, or simply contact us for a referral to one of the city’s most experienced real estate lawyers!
Are Real Estate Attorney Fees Charged Hourly?
No. Real estate attorney fees are typically structured as a flat fee per completed transaction. You should be careful of any lawyer asking for hourly pay for a real estate deal as that’s a sure sign that the lawyer does not specialize in real estate transactions.
Lawyers Who Do Everything
This will sometimes occur when buyers or sellers insist on using their family lawyer, someone who has worked with their family on a variety of issues from pre-nuptial agreements to incorporating a business.
Such a lawyer who claims to do a bit of everything will usually not have much experience in real estate transactions.
Do You Pay Real Estate Lawyer Fees Upfront?
Some lawyers may negotiate for half or some other portion of the fee to be paid upfront, with the remainder to be paid at closing. Some lawyers may ask for an engagement letter to be signed outlining the terms of such an agreement as this.
Most experienced attorneys who specialize in real estate will not even bother with an engagement letter. That’s because their business lives off of referrals and they will never go after a client in small claims court over a few thousand dollars. Not only will that be not worth the time spent in NYC’s court system, the negative reviews and publicity will not be worth it. Furthermore, if the transaction closes, the lawyer will be there to ensure that they get paid.
Real Estate Lawyer Fees for Complex Sales
Real estate attorney fees can be higher for more complex transactions that will simply take more of the lawyer’s time.
For example, real estate lawyer fees could be higher for a complicated estate sale with heirs that are hard to track down and a power of attorney involved. Or the real estate attorney fees could be higher for a purchase involving a foreign buyer and a convoluted corporate structure.
Real Estate Attorney Fees for New Developments
Real estate lawyer fees can often be doubled when buying a new construction home in NYC. That’s because developers typically expect the buyer to pick up some of their closing costs such as NYC and NY State transfer taxes and the sponsor’s attorney fees.
As a result, a buyer of a new construction condo or coop may end up paying for both their own attorney fees plus the seller’s attorney fees!
Unfortunately for buyers of new development condos and coops, the rate charged by the sponsor’s attorney is decided by the sponsor.
The rates charged by sponsor’s attorneys have been inflating quite a bit as of late, and it’s not uncommon to see $3,000 to even $5,000 charged by the sponsor’s attorney.
Sample Engagement Letter for a NYC Real Estate Transaction
This a sample NYC real estate attorney Engagement Letter which you’d be expected to sign when hiring (retaining) a lawyer for your real estate transaction:
Posted: 7/23/18 | Last Updated: December 2nd, 2019
Disclosure: Hauseit® and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. No representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind is made regarding the completeness or accuracy of information provided. Hauseit LLC is a Licensed Real Estate Broker, licensed to do business in New York under license number 10991232340. Principal Office: 148 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013.