Building your legal team*

8 Replies

I am a perspective buy-and-hold investor in the Seattle area with ambitions of building a sizable rental portfolio. However, as someone new to the game and trying to do his due diligence and real estate education first, I would like to ask experienced landlords how they went about building their team on the legal side of things?

Was it important for you as an investor to have a attorney in-place and ready before you bought your first property or was her/his presence on your team something that happened as necessary?

Did you go to family and friends for recommendations first or hit up the ol' Google search?

Thank you, any advise or stories of how you got started here are appreciated, read, and hopefully responded to in a timely manner.

*by team I mean your informal or formal collection of managers, attorneys, accountants, and advisers who help you run your business

Hey I don't have any personal experience to give you, but I do remember hearing something relating to your question in a recent podcast. The link is below. I remember him talking about when you need someone for something just start calling people in that field. Ask them questions and you are bound to find what you need. I think this is a good exercise to start taking action as well. Now I don't know if he mentioned if you need an attorney prior to your deal but I think it will give you a good idea on how to find them when you need them. 

It is my non-professional opinion that you wouldn't need them until you have that issue. I imagine any attorney is going to want money when you occupy their time. If you need an attorney to write a legal contract for you then yes you might need to hire one. But if you are just buying a property I believe a realtor will provide necessary documents. If you were to rent your property to someone I bet you could find a lawyer who has a general lease agreement that you can have them alter if you have specific needs.

Other than that, I hope someone with more knowledge and experience provides you some insight as well.

Best of luck!

@Alex Chin

Short answer:  No, I had no attorney involved before buying my first property.  

Long answer:  I had one available, referred through a fellow landlord but never engaged them.  I feel comfortable with straight forward purchases of 1-4 units, knowing that I'm using professional management, agents and reliable mentors to bounce questions off of.  I don't feel the need to pay an attorney to look over things.

Others may swear by them, depends on your comfort level and risk tolerance.

Getting into a $1mm+ fourplex on capital hill might have me dropping a few bucks to have an attorney look over everything.

Hope this helps.

If you are in a large market like Seattle, then you can find specialists. This means there is most likely an attorney that does evictions for a flat fee. 

I have used 3 different attorneys at the same time. One for evictions. One for a case involving insurance companies and a tenant claim, and one for business reasons. I have a good one for each of these. I avoid the jack of all trade attorneys. Our business attorney is awesome at business stuff but can't do evictions as fast and as good as the eviction guy. You get the point. I have better luck with specialists.

@Casey Stuebs - Hey Casey, thanks for the tip about that podcast, I have it on my list of "things to listen too". I think at this point, general advice has been that an attorney on retainer is not necessary for a new investor, but I would be well advised to get my lease agreement thoroughly reviewed.

@Sam B. - It does indeed help, I don't think I'll be looking into the Seattle core markets any time soon, my concentration will lie more towards the south iniitally, in the Kent, Renton, Des Moines, and Burien areas.

@Account Closed - Thanks for the quick run-down on your experiences and I'll keep that in mind moving forwards.

The best referral sources may be your CPA, financial advisor, and/or commercial insurance agent.
For my first rental property purchased I utilized a real estate broker who is also an investor. His connections to an attorney, mortgage broker, insurance broker, engineering inspection company, property management, etc. provided me with an instant team that already all communicate on a regular basis and know each other by first name. It takes a lot of your new guy plate when the players already communicate with each other.

@Al Wilson - That's a good suggestion and one I will look into, thank you.

@Greg Baker - I really like this idea and will make that one of my questions that I ask perspective real estate brokers. I am also fortunate enough to have some connections to local contractors and construction companies that I will probably tap. Thanks for your thoughts.