Real Estate Law
Whether you are buying or selling a home, in a real estate law dispute, or contemplating a real estate transaction, it is important to know your rights and have them explained to you by a real estate lawyer. Real estate law encompasses a broad range of issues in relation to property law that you may have never thought about before such as, easement disputes, foreclosures, injuries, property taxes, neighbor relations, property deeds, real estate warranties, different types of mortgages, insurance, and issues related to buying and selling real estate. You will likely have several questions you need answered and an experienced real estate attorney can help you.
Buying Real Estate / Property
Purchasing a home will likely be one of the largest financial transactions of your life. Issues can arise at all stages of home buying. Deciding where to live may be the first question to answer, but make sure you know how to pay for your new home, how to make an offer, and how much should your offer be. Also, the house should be inspected, deed prepared, and repairs made all before the closing. It is important that you have protected yourself before you sign any final documents. You should know what you are buying, all the good and bad about it. Make sure you know the answers to potentially damaging information such as:
- Are there any zoning violation issues with the property?
- Are there present or past environmental hazards a problem on the property?
- Are there covenants or restrictions on the property that would limit my use of the property?
- Will my mortgage change over time? Can I afford to make all the payments over time?
- Are there potential issues with the chain of title to the house that may interfere with my full ownership of the property?
- Is the property value estimate accurate?
- What are / can I afford my real estate taxes?
Owners can protected themselves from these issues and others, by taking the time to find all the information about buying real estate and discussing any potential problems with a Buzgon Davis Attorney.
Real Estate Law Disputes
Disputes over real estate are not limited to the typical disputes with transaction process such as those associated with buying and selling property like construction contracts, defects, title, and deed problems. However, a whole range of disputes can occur in other aspects of property law such as boundary disputes, injuries on property, trespass, nuisance, and encroachment. Disputes are especially common when a homeowner can no longer make their mortgage payment(s). Although it can vary depending on the terms of the mortgage agreement, a mortgage lender may foreclose on the property if the homeowner fails to make payments. Foreclosure will generally involve the lender repossessing the home and re-selling it to another property buyer. Foreclosures will involve a lot of legal procedures that a real estate attorney can help you with. Depending on your state, you may be able to stay in your home until the foreclosure is complete. A real estate attorney may even be able to help you work with your mortgage lender to prevent your property from entering foreclosure. If you are faced with a foreclosure or any other real estate dispute, it is advisable to speak with a real estate attorney.
1Q: Should I Arrange for a House Inspection Before Closing?
A: YES. To avoid legal headaches and expensive repairs later, you should arrange for a professional inspection before finalizing the purchase of a new home. Your lender or insurer may also require a satisfactory inspection. Be sure to consult with an experienced real estate attorney for guidance on how to word the contract of sale to protect your interests in case the inspection reveals unexpected defects.
The value of joining your inspector throughout the entire inspection cannot be overemphasized. Ask questions and learn as much as you can; you are paying for his or her expertise. A standard house inspection should cover the following, at a minimum:
- Roof and gutter system
- Fireplaces and chimneys
- Foundation and drainage system
- Plumbing and electrical
- Furnace and air conditioner
- Water damage
- Structural soundness
- Basement and attic, including insulation
- Walls, doors and windows
- Floors and ceilings
- Garages and outbuildings
Depending upon the particular property, you may need to hire other specialized professionals to analyze potentially dangerous issues, such as:
- Swimming pools
- Lead paint
- Fuel tanks and underground storage tanks
- Environmental contamination
- Pest infestations
- Wells and septic systems
- Soil condition
2Q: What is real estate?
A: Real estate (also called real property) is the term for land and things attached to land. For most consumers, real estate consists of their home and the lot surrounding it. Commercial real estate may include factories, equipment, and other facilities attached to building on land. In addition to buildings and equipment, resources existing on (or under) the land, including minerals and gas, are part of real estate. Some of these components of real estate can be sold separately.
3Q: What are deeds for?
A: Deeds identify the record owner of real estate and are necessary to transfer ownership of real estate. A deed contains the names of the old and new owners, a legal description of the property and is signed by the person transferring the property.
4Q: What is a disclosure statement?
A: A disclosure statement is a form that a property seller completes and provides to the buyer, disclosing certain defects and other information about the property.
5Q: What is joint tenancy?
A: Joint tenancy is an arrangement in which more than one person owns a piece of property. Many spouses own their property as joint tenants, with equal shares in the property. Joint tenancy can include a right of survivorship, which allows the property to transfer to the other tenants when one joint tenant dies.
6Q: What is Tenancy by the Entireties?
A: Joint tenancy is just one way that people can hold property jointly. Tenancy in the entirety is similar to joint tenancy, except each spouse holds an undivided half of the property. Tenants in common can own unequal shares of property and is a common way for commercial partners and cohabiting unmarried couples to hold property.
7Q: What happens to a deed after it is signed and notarized?
A: A signed deed should be recorded, or filed, in the courthouse office, usually in the county in which the property is located. To record the deed, a person must deliver the signed, original deed to the land records office, and the clerk will stamp the deed with the date and officially record the transaction. The county will charge a small fee to record the deed. Recording the deed gives public notice of any change in ownership or interests in the property.
8Q: What is title insurance?
A: Title Insurance is an insurance policy that protects the insured against loss should the condition of title to the land be other than as insured. This provides protection against past occurrences that could result in a claim at a future date. Coverage continues in effect for so long as you have an interest in the covered property. If you should die, the coverage automatically continues for the benefit of your heirs. If you sell your property, giving warranties of title to your buyer, your coverage continues. Likewise, if a buyer gives you a mortgage to finance a purchase of covered property from you, your coverage continues to protect your security interest in the property. Title insurance provides the insured with “peace of mind” in knowing that you are receiving good and marketable title to the real estate you are purchasing.
9Q: Why do I need title insurance?
A: When you buy a home–or any property for that matter–you expect to enjoy certain benefits from ownership…to be able to occupy and use the property as you wish, to be free from debts or obligations not created or agreed to by you, and to be able to freely sell or pledge your property as security for a loan. Title insurance is designed to cover these rights. Without an owner’s title insurance policy, you may not be fully protected against errors in the public records, hidden defects not disclosed by the public records, or mistakes made during the examination of the title of your new property. As a result, you may be held fully accountable for any liens, judgments or claims brought against your new property. However, your owner’s title policy insures that if such an occasion arises, you will be defended, free of charge against all covered claims and paid up to the amount of the policy to settle valid claims.
10Q: What is a HUD-1 Settlement Statement?
A: This is a summary of the financial details of the real estate transaction. The title company or closing agent is required by the Department of Housing & Urban Development to use the HUD-1 on most all residential real estate transactions involving a lender. The statement will list the purchase price, loan amount, and closing costs for the buyer and seller, and will show all sums being charged and disbursed to the parties involved. It also clearly summarizes the total amount due from the purchaser.
People can share ownership of real property with others in a number of ways, including:
- Joint Tenancy – two people have an undivided interest in real property and have a right to the whole property upon surviving the other with Rights of Survivorship.
- Tenancy by the Entirety – spouses have an undivided interest in real property and have a right to the whole property upon surviving the other person.
- Tenancy in Common – several people have an undivided, but distinct, interest in real property and do not have right to the whole property upon surviving the other people.