Attorneys can be an important piece of your arsenal of weapons when you have a problem or in deciphering a complicated contract. But they can also be a disaster when it comes to making RV park deals if you cede control to them. Here’s how an attorney can go from a help to a hindrance with an RV park purchase if you don’t keep adequate controls over them.
Understand the difference in perspectives
An attorney is typically trying to keep you out of trouble while you’re trying to take reasonable risks to make money. You see the deal as an “opportunity” and they see the deal as a “liability”. It’s all about the perception of risk. Attorneys are, by nature, “deal killers” as they look for and report every possible potential risk, caring nothing about the opportunity the deal presents. If you rely on your attorney to make deals happen, you will be in big trouble – nothing could be less likely.
The importance of skin in the game
Another problem you have with your attorney is that they have nothing at risk in your venture – and nothing to be gained (except their fees). As a result, they really don’t care about the deal with the same passion and enthusiasm that you do. If you miss out on the purchase of the RV park, it might be to the detriment of your financial future forever. To the attorney, it doesn’t mean a thing. As a result, their opinion is not nearly as important as your own.
Goals are simply not aligned
In some deals, one huge problem is that your attorney is actually looking for reasons to derail the deal as the more problems they find the more hours of time they can bill you. They are, in this aspect, not on your team at all, but strictly on their own. If it was possible to pay attorneys a commission on each deal closed – and nothing if the deal fails to make – it might help in this regard, but we’ve never seen that structure. Until then, you have to acknowledge that the RV park buyer/attorney relationship is more than a little flawed.
And then there’s the issue of speed
Another deal-killing attribute of attorneys in deals can be their lack of speed. If you believe in the old saying “Time Kills Deals” (which you should because it’s 100% correct) then you will be in real trouble when your time-sensitive transaction gets bogged down with your attorney saying, I’ll get back to you in a few days. Even “a few hours” is going to potentially kill you and your deal-making ability.
How to take control
So if your attorney can wreck your deal if left unsupervised, how can you take control?
- Only use an attorney for a specific purpose, not to “hold your hand”. Many RV park buyers get themselves into trouble by viewing their attorney as a sounding board. They’re not. If you are not seeking their opinion on a specific issue in the contract, then do not engage them. Use other parties that are more aligned with you for acting as a peer.
- Manage exactly the scope of the work and the estimated cost. When you want an attorney to review something for you, it’s key to identify exactly what you want them to do and how much they expect it will cost. You should never say “take a look at this contract and make sure it’s OK” as that’s way too open-ended. You should say “I have a concern with paragraphs 3 and 5 and want to make sure they meet the state law, so what will that cost?”.
- Get the deal under contract and then have your attorney review what you did. Most RV park contracts have a due diligence clause (yours better or you should never sign it). Why not have your attorney make any necessary detailed item reviews after you have it under contract rather than before? If the seller won’t agree to the change, then you can cancel the deal, but it did not hold you up from getting the deal signed up.
- Never cede the final decision – it needs to be 100% your thoughts. You should be the master of your destiny – not your attorney. You would never want to look back ten years later and say “I sure wish I hadn’t listened to that attorney and had bought that RV park years ago”. Only your opinion matters when it comes time to make big decisions, not those of others. Attorneys may provide information, but you have to decide the final thumbs up or down.
Attorneys can be an important resource in a deal. But they can also be its worst nightmare. Take control of your legal help and your future. You’ll be glad you did.