Real estate law governs the laws which have to do with property and the buildings which are affixed to pieces of land. This includes homes, commercial property, and many other types of real estate. If you are buying or selling a piece of property it is always prudent to contact your attorney beforehand so that you can avoid any legal pitfalls during this process. At Buist Law, we can assist you in handling all types of real estate matters. Whether you are selling, purchasing, exchanging or leasing residential or commercial property, our experienced attorneys will ensure that your interests are well protected. If you need advice before contracting to purchase, sell, lease, or mortgage a property, call us for a complimentary consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my Real Estate Contract need to be in writing?
Any sale of real estate, or a lease for a term of one year or more must be in writing to be legal under the Statute of Frauds.
When should I contact an attorney?
Any real estate transaction (a sale, lease, listing, offer, option, etc.) should be reviewed by an attorney before you sign it. It might be necessary to use a 72 or 48 hour clause that states that the contract is not valid and final until approved by legal counsel.
How long should my listing agreement be?
It is best to try not to sign a listing agreement for longer than 90 days. Normally it is not prudent to sign a listing agreement for more than 180 days, but special circumstances might dictate otherwise. If you are unsure you should contact an attorney to provide you guidance on this matter.
What type of real estate contract is best for residential sales?
Generally it is best to sell a home with an “As Is” contract. It is normally prudent to have a short inspection period and sometimes a limitation of costs for problems with the general inspection.
Should I use a Real Estate Broker?
While they are not required for a real estate transaction, the great majority of real estate sales are made by employing Real Estate brokers. Brokers are a good source of property valuations through CMA (Comparative Market Analysis). It is best to use a broker who works within your real estate market if you are buying or selling a piece of property. Generally speaking the broker’s commission is 6% split between a listing broker and a selling broker. Occasionally brokers will ask for 7% and in certain situations you can negotiate a lower commission of 4% to 5%. These lower commissions are usually attributed to property with a high price tag. As a seller it is acceptable to negotiate a lower listing commission, but you should keep in mind that a lower commission on the selling side may give you a disadvantage in the market.
What if I don’t want to use a Real Estate Broker?
You can always attempt to sell your home “For Sale By Owner”, however it can be a difficult and normally purchasers expect that they should get some or all of the savings from the having no brokerage fee included in the price. This is generally not recommended unless you are experienced in this area, as the pitfalls for contract issues, and selling a piece of property for under value is quite high. If you are considering this as an option it is imperative that you speak with an attorney and have them prepare the sales contract for you.
What to look for as a Buyer?
You should carefully check the neighborhood, traffic, schools, taxes, police, etc. associated with any piece of property that you are looking to purchase. It is also important to make sure that you have ample time and spend the necessary money to have a thorough inspection done. The inspection should include a physical inspection including the roof (leaks, condition, age), plumbing, HVAC, electric, pool, insects or vermin, mold, lead paint, and radon. You should ask for a survey of the property, or pay for one if it is appropriate. Title should be handled through a good agent and title company and with the blessings and control of your attorney. Make sure you get a good estimate of all the associated closing costs and that you understand them. Always have an attorney check your closing documents, particularly the preliminary title report, deed, and affidavit of title.
What to look for as a Seller?
A seller needs to make sure that they understand any contingencies in their contract (financing, inspections, etc.), and that they clearly understand and agree with the closing statement and numbers before the closing. A good realtor and a good title closing agent can be essential, but the only individual who is looking after your interests exclusively is your attorney. An attorney is money very well spent in a real estate transaction and often saves you money with their ability to eliminate costly errors on your part.