Commercial real estate lawyers (aka “solicitors”) guide their clients through the myriad of legal issues that are involved with commercial real estate transactions. They also help property owners improve the value of their existing assets. For example, they are able to identify rezoning or development opportunities and can help investors reduce their tax burden through the formation of new corporate ownership structures. One of the core differences between residential vs commercial real estate transactions is that commercial real estate sales often involve property owned by more than one business entity.
This adds further complexity to both the buyers and sellers of a property when navigating issues around taxation, governance, ownership and liability. Another added complexity of commercial real estate is that both leases and purchase agreements are rarely boilerplate. Having a skilled attorney is often required to protect investors from significant loss or lawsuit. PropertyCashin can ensure that you find a good real estate attorney in your area. In our national directory we provide you with a list of top-rated local commercial real estate law firms with insights on their experience and specialties. Finding the best commercial real estate lawyer can be a daunting process. PropertyCashin can remove the risk of choosing the wrong one.
List of commercial real estate attorneys and lawyers by state:
List of related local vendors:
- Commercial Property Management Companies
- Commercial Property Insurance Companies
- Commercial Private & Hard Money Lenders
- Commercial Real Estate Agents & Brokers
- Commercial Real Estate Photographers
- Commercial Property Tax Consultants
- Commercial Real Estate Inspectors
- Commercial Real Estate Appraisers
- Commercial Structural Engineers
- Commercial Property Surveyors
- Commercial Mortgage Brokers
- Commercial Architects
- 1031 Exchange Companies
Commercial real estate attorneys serve their clients’ interests during the purchase, sale, leasing and development of commercial real estate, as well as during lawsuits. Like any other kind of attorneys, they have significant legal responsibilities to their clients.
Any commercial real estate law office will have handled countless commercial property purchases, lease negotiations and property disputes in their local area. Their attorneys will have seen what worked for other clients and understand how to avoid the legal risks associated with commercial real estate.
Commercial real estate attorneys are specialists in real estate contract law, real estate tax law, business law, deed transfers, and commercial loans. They will also be equipped to handle any disputes related to a property owner’s investment. For example, two owners with adjacent buildings may require commercial real estate attorneys during a property dispute over an easement.
A commercial property will often have multiple loan facilities and undergo frequent refinancing. Because the guarantor of the loan is usually the business entity that owns the property, the underwriting process is far less straightforward than most residential real estate loans. Commercial real estate attorneys can help property buyers and owners secure lines of credit, structure collateral, negotiate debt covenants, and issue securities related to large real estate developments.
In the case of mortgage foreclosures, the bank will almost certainly have a commercial real estate attorney helping with the foreclosure proceedings, while the property owner will often use a commercial real estate attorney to mount a foreclosure defense or prepare for a short sale. Commercial real estate attorneys also represent the interests of landlords when creating and enforcing commercial lease agreements, including tenant evictions.
State and local governments will generally have strict zoning requirements that prevent businesses from operating in residential areas. This can significantly restrict the rental value of any retail shop space. Good commercial real estate attorneys will be local real estate law experts who can find the exact legal restrictions on leasing a property and can also recommend remedy when it makes sense for a property owner to challenge those laws.
Finally, for any criminal prosecutions related to a defendant’s involvement in commercial property fraud, an experienced commercial real estate attorney will be an essential part of any good defense, especially during litigation.
Because real estate attorneys do not work on commissions (unlike brokers), they will have no interest in pushing you to close a deal that might not be in your interests. When working with a broker that you don’t have a long relationship with, a real estate attorney can be especially valuable as a source of unbiased guidance before you make a massive investment.
Commercial real estate is fraught with land use restrictions and rental obligations to existing tenants. It’s essential for buyers to understand what kinds of obligations and restrictions they are inheriting when acquiring a commercial property, and attorneys help them in it.
In the same way that commercial real estate attorneys review contracts for buyers of commercial real estate, they also protect sellers and ensure that any purchase contract is fair. During the sale of a property, a commercial real estate attorney can help sellers with the difficult process of conveyancing (getting all of the required paperwork together for the buyers and lenders).
A commercial real estate attorney will also be able to navigate the outstanding obligations that a property owner has to their existing tenants and how a sale can affect those obligations.
Having a commercial real estate attorney is not only advisable, but 20 states actually require there to be an attorney present during any commercial real estate transaction. Except in the rare circumstance where an attorney represents both the buyer and seller, this means that at least one party will need to have their own attorney. If the other party has an attorney, it is absolutely critical for you to have one.
Only rarely is it responsible or even possible to rely solely on your real estate broker to deal with legal matters during a commercial property transaction. Assuming that you are in one the 30 states where such an attorney isn’t required to for a commercial real estate transaction, the property would need to be relatively inexpensive (e.g. less than $500k) and uncomplicated (e.g. a five-unit apartment building) for it to be responsible to not have one during any transaction.
Most commercial real estate lawyers will provide a free consultation that gives prospective clients the perfect opportunity to ask any questions they might have. The most important thing to understand before hiring any attorney is their experience with the type of commercial real estate you are looking to invest in or sell. Experienced attorneys will have a strong familiarity with the potential pitfalls associated with the deals you are looking to do and can help you avoid them
Also, ask them when and how often they are available. If your case implies a possibility of an urgent need for the lawyer’s advice, you want to be able to get a quick response from your attorney. Ask them about all services that are included in their fees. Finally, ask them about what advantages you get when choosing them over their competitors.
Commercial property lawyers will frequently quote both buyers and sellers a flat fee for a routine closing of a commercial property. Other lawyers will stick to their regular hourly billing rates. Regardless, this fee will average between $1,500-$2,000 for the entire closing process.
For ongoing property disputes, commercial real estate lawyers will almost always charge between $100-$500 per hour, with lawyers located in urban areas and in expensive coastal cities usually charging in the higher end of that range. Depending on the complexity of the dispute, total legal costs can easily get into the thousands of dollars.
Googling “commercial real estate attorneys near me” will invariably give any investor a significant number of options. The key is being able to sift through those options to find the best. An attorney’s ability and experience has a poor correlation with their SEO skills, so just choosing one of the first search results is a terrible strategy. If you don’t already have a qualified recommendation from another professional in your network, PropertyCashin’s directory features reputable and professional real estate attorneys in your local area.
Attorneys are required by the American Bar Association to have a Conflict Waiver to represent two parties with conflicting interests in a real estate transaction. By definition, the buyer and seller will have conflicting interests in almost any transaction.
The only circumstance where attorneys can acquire a Conflict Waiver for a real estate transaction is when the two parties are not at “arm’s-length,” and were already closely connected to each other before the transaction. For example, a brother and sister working together on a property transfer would likely be able to get a Conflict Waiver. For transactions that are at arms-length, an attorney will not be able to represent both parties.
Going to court during a commercial real estate dispute is never a good thing, and the best commercial real estate attorneys will do everything they can to reach a real estate settlement before a dispute escalates to trial. However, if going to court is unavoidable – during a foreclosure defense to prevent eviction, for example – the same attorney that might be very skilled with paperwork might be relatively weak in a court setting.
Having a strong presence in court is a very different skill set than dealing with paperwork. You should always make sure that your attorney has sufficient litigation experience before having them represent you in court. If they don’t, find an attorney that does or find a way to avoid court proceedings altogether.