There is a vast and varied body of law concerning real estate. For simplicity’s sake, it is helpful to view real estate issues through two equally important areas:
Transactional. Real estate transactions vary tremendously, some major areas of transactional real estate law include:
1.Purchase and Sale Agreements: Whether one is represented by a real estate agent or is self-represented, it is advisable to have an attorney familiar with real estate purchase and sale transactions review the relevant documents that are a part of buying or selling real estate. Some of these documents include: A listing agreement with a real estate agent; the purchase and sale agreement for the real estate transaction; lender financing documents and/or owner financing documents; a title report on the real estate; and proposed closing documents.
2.Gifting Transactions: Depending upon the monetary value of an individual’s estate, it may be wise to consider gifting interests in real estate to others to avoid estate taxes. This can be accomplished outright or by giving interests in a company set up to own real estate.
3.Lease and Rental Agreements: Whether an individual is a real estate owner looking to rent to potential tenants, or is an individual looking to rent real estate from a landlord, it is advisable to seek the advice of an attorney familiar with drafting and reviewing leases and rental agreements.
4.Passing Real Estate By Will, or by State Intestacy Laws: Just because an individual passes away without a Will does not mean a loved one or relative is necessarily deprived of an interest in real estate owned by the deceased. Rarely does a deceased’s property pass to the State, even if there is no Will. Usually, if the deceased did not execute a Will, any interest he or she had in real estate will pass to his or her relatives in a manner prescribed by State law. If the deceased made a Will, the Will likely controls how the real estate will be distributed, and it may impose conditions on the transfer, such as a mandate to sell or hold the real estate. If you have had a relative pass away recently, or if you have been served with, or sent court documents as a result of an individual passing away, it is highly advisable to seek the advice of an attorney familiar with real estate and probate law.
5.Easements and Other Agreements Relating to the Use or Non-use of Real Estate. One should consult an attorney familiar with real estate matters before attempting to burden a piece of real estate with an easement or other recorded instrument. It may affect the value of the real estate significantly and could cause issues down the road when the property is being sold. Easements and other recorded instruments regarding the use or non-use of real estate generally follow the real estate, and not the individual (unlike a contract, for example). Therefore, it is also wise to seek legal advice before purchasing real estate that has questionable easements or other documents recorded against it.
Litigation. Needless to say, if any of issues arise from transactions involving real estate, litigation may be necessary. The actions related to real estate are numerous, and really fall far beyond the scope of a general website article. One should consult with an attorney if served with court papers or when contemplating initiating a lawsuit.
My firm assists potential clients with both transactions involving real estate and real estate litigation.