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Oct 22

How to Select a Settlement Attorney

Because today’s real estate settlement is an
extremely complex matter, the competence of the
attorney handling the transaction is clearly the most
important factor. The first question to ask when
inquiring about a settlement is: who will actually be
conducting my settlement? Will I have a Real Estate
Attorney in the room? A licensed settlement Agent?
Or just some employee of a title company with no
formal training in the intricacies of real estate?

Once you have determined that you will have an
attorney at the settlement table, you should ask if the
Settlement Attorney has kept their skills sharp and
current by taking recent continuing education courses
or even better, if the attorney TEACHES
THOSE COURSES? Finally you should ask whether the
attorney belongs to relevant trade and professional
associations such as the Greater Capital Area
Association of Realtors (GCAAR), Maryland Land Title
Association (MLTA), District of Columbia Land Title
Association (DCLTA), and the Real Estate Section of
the Local Bar Associations.

Stress-Free Settlements’ General Counsel are members
of the MLTA, DCLTA, Affiliates of GCAAR and have
been elected to serve on the Steering Committee of
the DC Bar Real Estate, Housing and Land Use Section.
They also have been approved to teach Real Estate
courses which qualify for Continuing Legal Education
Credits for attorneys by the DC Bar and for Realtors by
the Real Estate Commission.

Experience

How many settlements has the settlement attorney
handled? Obviously there are many variables in every
settlement and the more settlements that have been
closed successfully, the more likely that the settlement
attorney will have addressed any problem issues that
may arise during your settlement.

But sheer numbers of closed settlements does not
necessarily mean valuable experience. Additional
factors in determining the settlement attorney’s
experience include whether the settlement attorney
handles others real estate matters besides settlements.
For example, have they ever been Realtors or do they
handle real estate litigation. Each of those experiences
provide valuable skills for a settlement attorney.

Reputation

Is your settlement attorney highly regarded by his or
her peers for honesty and integrity. Have they been
selected by their peers to leadership posts in trade
associations or received other honors, awards or
accolades.

Convenience

When selecting your settlement attorney, you need to
make sure that the office is located in a convenient
location and that the office is willing to accommodate
your busy schedule. As a busy Realtor running from
settlement to settlement and showing to walk-throughs
you are well served to select a well-located office with
easy access in and out which will accommodate early-
morning, evening and weekend settlements when
necessary. Your busy clients will appreciate a flexible
settlement office who will never keep you waiting but
will always find the time to squeeze in one more
evening settlement for that client who is leaving town
the following morning.

Accessibility

These days accessibility is a combination of common
courtesy and use of state of the art technology. You
will have many questions concerning your settlement
and it will be essential that you are able to get answers
from your settlement attorney or his staff.
Accessibility may take the form of returned phone calls
in a timely manner; e-mail exchanges or access to the
settlement attorney’s web site which may contain
useful information about the real estate settlement
process and may link to valuable resources.

Before selecting a settlement attorney, make sure you
can reach him or her 24 hours a day via at least one
means of communication: phone/fax/e-mail or text
messaging.

Stress-Free Settlements uses the latest in
telecommunications technology to stay in touch with
clients. All telephone messages and incoming faxes are
logged into an e-mail system accessible from each
office and from each settlement attorney’s personal cell
phone. Your calls will be promptly returned by a
member of the Stress-Free Settlements team who will
have the answer to your question.

Costs

You want certainty in your real estate transaction.
You should select a settlement attorney who is willing
to provide you with written fixed list of costs which
may be applicable to your settlement. But don’t be
fooled into selecting the cheapest nor the most
expensive settlement provider. The low-cost
settlement agent may cost you far more if the
settlement is not handled properly, delayed or worse,
cancelled due to incompetence or indifference