Real Estate Law: Questions and Answers

Frequently Asked Questions about Real Estate

The variety of issues that fall under the broad category of real estate law may be complex, and you may therefore have a number of questions to be addressed. Here, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions pertaining to residential and commercial real estate matters. Because every case is different, we have striven to make the answers as concise as possible. We welcome you to review these or to use our directory to find a real estate lawyer who can address your particular questions and concerns.

What is a real estate transaction?

A real estate transaction is described as the legal process of transferring ownership of property from one party to another. Real estate transactions may involve commercial or residential property and may range in value depending on the worth of the property.

How can an attorney help with a real estate purchase or sale?

Purchasing or selling a home or commercial property is a complex transaction. It is also most likely one of the largest financial transactions you may deal with in your lifetime, making it all the more important to ensure that your interests are properly protected. A real estate attorney can help by guiding you through every step of the transaction, conducting a deed and title review, reviewing and explaining all documents before you sign and otherwise protecting your legal rights. This can facilitate a faster and more beneficial transaction while avoiding costly, unnecessary delays or expenses.

What is a deed?

A deed is a legal document that transfers property from one party or parties to another. This is one of the most important documents associated with a real estate transaction.

Why is a title review important in a real estate transaction?

A title is a document that shows evidence of right or ownership of real property. If you are purchasing a home or commercial property, it is important to make sure the title is reviewed. The proper transfer of ownership will depend on whether the title is clear and can help you avoid future problems if you wish to sell the property at a later date.

When a real estate dispute arises, is litigation the only option?

Disputes are possible in any legal field, including real estate. If you are dealing with any type of real estate dispute, such as a property defect or boundary dispute, you may be able to resolve the matter outside of the courtroom through negotiation. This will usually be an attorney's first course of action, with litigation only considered if it is impossible to reach and out-of-court agreement.

What are some situations that may result in real estate litigation?

Real estate litigation may arise from various issues. Some possibilities include: boundary disputes, homeowners association disputes, construction defects and delays, property defects, breaches of contract and landlord-tenant disputes.

What is the difference between residential and commercial property?

Residential property is generally any structure or land intended for private housing. Commercial property, on the other hand, is used for business or industrial use. Some examples of residential property include single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums. Examples of commercial property include office buildings, parking garages, shopping malls, apartment buildings and farm land.

What are some of the issues that a rental or lease agreement may address?

A rental or lease agreement should outline a number of key factors related to the rental or lease of property. This may include details about payments, recourse if payments are missed, the duration of the contract, what the property should be used for, who is liable for repairs, whether pets are allowed, whether subletting is permitted and any other relevant matters. A legally sound, thorough agreement is important if you want to avoid potential landlord-tenant issues.

If my tenant has missed payments, can I charge interest?

Whether you can charge interest on missed payments will depend on the details of your lease or rental agreement.

What are potential grounds for eviction?

Though this may vary depending on how it is addressed in your rental or lease agreement, some of the potential grounds for eviction may include non-payment, late payments, violations of the rental or lease agreement, nuisance complaints, improper use of the property and unauthorized subletting.

Do I have any options in the face of foreclosure?

If you're facing foreclosure, you have options. You may be able to avoid foreclosure entirely and save your home through bankruptcy or loan modification. If you wish to sell or surrender the property, you may consider a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure. Your options will vary depending on your goals and the unique situation.

What is a short sale?

A short sale involves the sale of real property at less than is currently owed on the mortgage. A short sale may be a way for a homeowner to sell a property that they can no longer afford. To properly approach a short sale, however, it is important to ensure a written agreement is reached with the lender so the borrower is not held liable for the balance remaining on the mortgage.

As a landowner, what are some of the issues that I may need to deal with pertaining to zoning and land use?

Zoning and land use are matters to be considered by any landowner, buyer or developer. If you wish to add on to your home, purchase commercial property or build on land that you have purchased, you will have to go through the proper channels and comply with various zoning and land use regulations as set forth by the local government. Noncompliance with these regulations can spell disaster for a development project, business or home renovation. Disputes related to zoning and land use can also be complex, leading to financial losses. As such, you may find it beneficial to work with a real estate lawyer who can properly advise you on these matters and who can represent your interests in the event that a problem arises.

If you still have questions about real estate law or would like to discuss your particular concerns with a legal professional, we welcome you to use this directory to find local lawyers who may be able to handle your specific real estate transaction, dispute or lawsuit.

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