What Is a Real Estate Lawyer's Job?

by Steve Lander

The job of a real estate lawyer can vary depending on the type of attorney, the community in which he works, and the nature of the client. A real estate attorney might help a family buy a starter home. Real estate attorneys can also help with more complicated transactions and can assist with the process of developing new communities.

Investigating Title

Real estate attorneys frequently get involved in the process of reviewing the ownership record of a property to ensure that the seller is able to go through with the sale without risk of another person with claim to the property coming forward. While title companies do some of this work, attorneys frequently review their reports to determine what risks they contain. This task can be particularly important with larger and more complicated transactions.

Handling Contracts

While real estate attorneys might not get involved in negotiating the price and the closing date, they frequently help in negotiating the legal terms of the purchase agreement when a property changes hands. Even if a transaction is done on a generic fill-in-the-blanks form, it is still a legal document. In some parts of the country, it's customary for an attorney to get involved in even the smallest and seemingly simplest transactions.

Negotiations and Closing

Once a property goes under contract, real estate attorneys frequently stay involved to handle any other issues that may come up. If a buyer requests changes to the terms of the contract, an attorney can help with the negotiation and with creating documents to formalize the change. Real estate attorneys also often get involved in drafting deeds and other documents. They may be at the closing to review documents for their client and handle any other issues that come up.


Real estate attorneys provide assistance in the process of developing new properties or redeveloping old ones. They can draft the documents necessary to get land divided or rezoned for development. Many community associations and development partnerships are created by attorneys. Real estate attorneys can help represent their clients in front of governing bodies that decide what can -- and can't -- be built in a particular area.

About the Author

Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.

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