During the housing crisis, the real estate legal profession, like most everything else related to the real estate industry, suffered significantly. Now; however, all of that is beginning to change, as booming real estate markets throughout the country have once again begun to draw upon the skills of attorneys experienced in real estate zoning, taxes, and transactions. In fact, real estate attorneys are in such demand that in many areas, there simply are not enough attorneys to meet the growing demand. As a result, many existing law practices are stretched beyond their limits and some firms have even found it necessary to transfer attorneys from other specialties into real estate law.
Three critical reasons have contributed to the growing demand for attorneys experienced in real estate.
1. The Market Crash of 2008
At the onset of the housing crisis, some real estate practices had found it necessary to begin cutting back staff from their real estate divisions. Consequently, many firms found it necessary to actually lay off associate attorneys by the hundreds. In other instances, freshman lawyers who had already received offers found their start dates were suddenly deferred. In other cases, firms elected not to hire any first-year attorneys at all. For the next four years, attorneys specializing in real estate found there was little to no work for them. Today, all of that has changed. Experienced real estate attorneys are now able to command increasingly larger salaries. Following a three-to-five year lag in which there were few associates being hired and given the opportunity to develop their skills, real estate attorneys are now in short supply.
2. Increasing Commercial Development
Rapidly increasing commercial development in many major metro markets has also proven to be a strong contributor to the demand for attorneys skilled in real estate transactions. This is particularly true in areas where developers are looking toward repurposing existing properties while taking advantage of the increased demand for live-work units in downtown cores. Attorneys with experience in zoning have becoming increasingly sought-after as a result of the rising demand for properties in urban areas.
3. More Foreigners and Out-of-Towners Investing in Commercial Projects
A significant portion of business in the real estate industry is also now stemming from foreign investors and other out-of-towners with an interest in investing in commercial real estate. For a long time, following the onset of the economic recession, it was almost impossible for real estate firms to obtain loans for acquisitions and developments. Without financing, it became impossible to complete deals. Recently, investors have demonstrated increased confidence in the real estate industry, particularly in the commercial sector. This has naturally resulted in increased questions concerning potential tax issues, which has resulted in the need for more real estate attorneys specializing in tax issues.
With rising activity in the real estate industry, attorneys specializing in this field may find they now have the opportunity to enjoy a lucrative career.