Howes & Howes, Attorneys at Law

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The Residential Real Estate Retainer:  How it works

Katherine Howes has been handling residential real estate closings since 1991.  Whether you are looking for a Somerset County real estate attorney, a Hunterdon County real estate attorney or a Morris County real estate attorney, you will need to sign a retainer agreement with that real estate attorney.  Katherine Howes follows the standard North Jersey practice.  This comment will explain the basics of the Howes & Howes real estate retainer.

Whether you are a first time homebuyer or an experienced real estate hand, your residential real estate transaction is important to you and to Howes & Howes.  The attorney-client relationship is very important one.  In each case, a written retainer agreement establishes and memorializes the attorney-client relationship.

Once you have a signed real estate contract, you should contact Howes & Howes.  We will determine whether we can represent you, then we will discuss and agree upon a legal fee for legal services for your real estate transaction.  For most residential real estate transactions, the legal fee is a flat fee.  That is, there will be one fee for services, soup to nuts, for a transaction that closes as planned.  When there is a flat fee, the client is not charged by the hour for each action taken by the law firm.  Howes & Howes charges a reasonable flat fee, one for a purchase, and one for a sale.  Our fee is commensurate with the firm’s experience and standing in the legal community.

It should be clear that the flat fee includes only the legal fee.  It does not include closing costs associated with title insurance, filing the mortgage and deed with the County Clerk or costs associated with the mortgage loan.

The flat fee is paid at the time of closing out of the proceeds of the sale.  Therefore, the client is not required to pay an up-front retainer for a standard residential real estate closing.  While the flat fee is the general rule, there are exceptions to the flat fee.  We will discuss the fee arrangement in advance.  If, for whatever reason, the transaction does not close as expected, there will be a legal fee for the services rendered, as agreed in advance.

The basis of rate of the fee will be communicated to you in writing at the outset.  You will be asked to review the retainer letter and if you agree to its terms, to sign the retainer and return it to Howes & Howes.  This retainer agreement will be the beginning of what we hope will be a good experience for you. 


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