Buying or Selling Real Estate: Five Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Attorney Early in the Process
A real estate transaction involves significant legal issues that should be handled by a real estate attorney. Hire one early on in the process of selling or buying a property to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. Buying or Selling Real Estate in South Florida? Here are five reasons why you need to hire a real estate lawyer now.
- Real Estate Agents Cannot Give Legal Advice
In most cases, if you decide to make or accept an offer to buy a property, you will need to sign a legally binding purchase agreement. By default, this document is provided by a real estate agent. While many real estate experts know enough about their profession to answer important questions about your purchase agreement, it is important to know that they cannot give you legal advice.
- Attorneys Protect Your Legal Rights
Hiring a real estate lawyer before you make or accept any property offer is the best way to protect your investment and your rights as the buyer or seller of real estate. At South Florida Law, PLLC we review the purchase agreement before the offer is accepted. Then we make suggested revisions that benefit you as our client.
“It is crucial that all parties to a real estate transaction retain a real estate lawyer to navigate contingency pitfalls, deadlines and other obstacles detailed in the purchase agreement.”
- “Earnest Money”
In many cases, a buyer will attach a check or money order to the signed purchase agreement or be responsible for submitting one shortly after entering a contract. These funds, called “earnest money”, are used to hold the property and later will be applied as a credit to the price of the house. The funds are placed in escrow until the day that the transaction closes. Earnest money, which often ranges between between 1% and 10% of the purchase price, could be forfeited to the seller if the buyer chooses to walk away rather than complete the sale. However, sellers beware: real estate purchase agreements are complex documents with detailed rights and responsibilities assigned to both sides of the transaction. Should the seller fail to perform specific duties by set deadlines, then there’s a possibility that the buyer will be entitled to a refund of their earnest money. Buyers and sellers should hire an experienced Real Estate lawyer to protect their stake in the transaction. At South Florida Law, we will interpret the real estate purchase agreement, map the obligations to a timeline and work closely with you to perform as required.
- Purchase Agreement Contingencies
Detailed legal interpretation of the purchase agreement terms by a lawyer will help buyers and sellers to understand what happens should any of the following events occur. Property inspections reveal structural issues or other serious conditions that affect the value of the real estate. External decisions by third parties may affect the transaction. The most common case is that the transaction is contingent upon the success of a real estate chain. In a real estate chain, a buyer must first sell a primary property to another buyer who, in turn, is also waiting for funds from the sale of his or her property). For commercial transactions, the outcome of zoning applications are external decisions that might affect whether a sale can go through. This presents a particular red flag, since it can take months for local authorities to approve a zoning application. How will these delaying factors affect timing, cost of the property and the fulfillment of responsibilities in the purchase agreement? Does one party have the right to walk away during a long delay?- A title search reveals “clouds” and encumbrances on the property. Perhaps a historical stake in the property is discovered (eg: the title is partially owned by the estate of a deceased person). Perhaps a lien has been placed on the property for an unpaid debt. According to Jeremy Yohe, spokesman for the American Land Title Association, “One out of every three searches reveals a title or public record defect that’s fixed before the transaction closes”. South Florida Law, PLLC is a full-service title agency as well as a real estate specialty law firm. We can conduct title search, clear-up clouded titles and work with our clients to meet purchase agreement deadlines and close the deal. One other occurrence to consider is that a party may simply decide to change their mind. Perhaps the value of the property has changed or something has changed in the life or business scenario of one of the parties. In such a case, does the buyer get back the earnest money they paid when the purchase agreement was made? It is crucial that all parties to a real estate transaction retain a real estate lawyer to navigate contingency pitfalls, deadlines and other obstacles detailed in the purchase agreement. South Florida Law, PLLC is a full service law firm as well as a title insurance agent. This means that in addition to handling many of the matters above, South Florida Law can manage the title search and write your property’s title insurance policy.
- Specific Performance
Real estate transactions might die due to clouded titles, unsecured mortgages and parties simply changing their minds. However, it is important to note that even though the transaction has died, the purchase agreement may still be in effect. Certain specific performance clauses in the contract may require a buyer or seller to transact against their will. This is usually the result of litigation, decisions, appeals and even more litigation. Costly, time-consuming and restricting (a property cannot be sold while it is the object of a litigation), in many cases it would have been much wiser to involve a real estate lawyer prior to signing the purchase agreement.
And after the sale … Congratulations! You have sold or bought a property. Whether commercial or residential, there are still a few legal pitfalls to look out for post transaction. These may include issues of title litigation, defense against claims for easements and property access, restrictions on uses, code violations and property tax appeals. At South Florida Law, PLLC we stand with our clients before, during and for years after complex real estate transactions.
If you own and/or are looking to buy a property in South Florida, then call us today for a free consultation on (954) 900-8885, or reach out via our contact form.
Nima Ajabshir, Esq. is the Managing Partner at South Florida Law, with an emphasis in Real Estate Law. Mr. Ajabshir received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Florida State University, where he graduated Cum Laude. Mr. Ajabshir, Esq. attended and received his Juris Doctorate from St. Thomas University School of Law. In addition to being an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Florida, Mr. Ajabshir, Esq. has his real estate license, so he has experience in all facets of a transaction.