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My attorney is asking $10,000 for real estate closing. Is that acceptable?

New York, NY |

Purchasing takes longer time than normal for 3 month due to mortgage delay, but no legal related issues has occured during the process. What my attorney needs to do are only making phone calls and initiating contract. He announced he charge by hour, which he didn't inform us before. He told us at the very begining that the fee would be around $1000, but now he's asking for 10 times that.

We didn't sign any written agreement with the attorney regarding fees.

Attorney Answers 3


The question really centers on whether you signed a retainer and what the terms of the retainer agreement were. In New York, attorneys are supposed to have retainer agreements signed for all legal services where the fee exceeds $3,500.00. If you are being charged on an hourly rate the attorney is supposed to send itemized statements of the hours and fees every 60 days at a minimum. If he did not send those invoices he is not entitled to payment. Either way, the fee seems excessive as real estate closings are generally billed as a flat fee. If the closing has not taken place yet you can hire new counsel.

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Thank you for your answer. We haven't signed anything like retainer with the attorney. In the past more than 3 months he has not updated us for itemized statements of hourse or fees. What will be the approx cost for me to get another attorney to negociate with him? And how will be the chance to reduce my payment to him? Thank you!

Sharon M. Siegel

Sharon M. Siegel


If you signed nothing, it is likely going to be minimal. The biggest problem you face is that the lawyer could file a lien, depending on how aggressive he or she is. If it cost your closing, you could seek damages for that. It would be worth a consult.


You may want to consult with another attorney to see what you would be charged.

This answer does not constitute legal advice and no attorney client relationship has been formed. Before choosing a course of action, it is always advisable to seek the advice of an attorney in your area.

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I agree with the above posters in all respects re: a written retainer. However the absence of a retainer does not mean that the attorney is not entitled to charge a reasonable fee for work performed. Whether the fee is reasonable is another question altogether.

Every real estate closing is different, but $10k sounds a bit excessive for a simple deal within NYC. Especially considering that you were initially quoted $1k. That being said, the fee in a real estate deal can vary based upon purchase price, the type of property, whether it is new construction, along with a thousand other items. Are there any complicating factors? Was the attorney extensively involved in negotiations of purchase price and other items?

As mentioned, you can always fire your lawyer and use someone else to close the deal. However be wary as this attorney will expect to be paid. I would immediately request an itemized bill for you to review. If you do not agree with it, the best way to protect your rights is to write a letter to the lawyer explaining why you do not agree with the bill and remind him of the initial quote. Feel free to bounce more questions about this because it sounds like a difficult situation.

The aforementioned opinion does not constitute legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. See an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction for competent legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been formed through the within legal question and answer session.

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