Real Estate Matters

Buying real estate, whether it will be used for your home or investment property, can be a complicated business. There are complex legal and title issues, plus a whole new vocabulary of unfamiliar terms to deal with. What’s more, for most people, it is the biggest single purchase they will ever make.

With all this in mind, you should have someone on your side who is knowledgeable about this area of law. Hanson & Payne will look out for your interests, ensure that you get a clear title to your new property, as well as help you protect your investment for the future. Legal advice offers you something the average homebuyer usually lacks– that is, knowledge of the subtleties and peculiarities of real estate law and the transfer of property rights and title.

Many home buyers attend closing without an attorney of their own. Knowing exactly what you are buying (will an easement on your property stop you from building the addition you envisioned?) and what you will be paying for at closing are valuable pieces of information that all home buyers need, but most never get because no one represents the home buyer’s interests in most real estate purchases. In most cases, unless the buyers pay out of pocket for their own real estate agent, the real estate agent who shows the buyers houses does not represent the buyers, he/she represents the seller and receives his or her commission only when the house sells. That means the “buyer’s” agent may withhold negative information about a particular house or push buyers to offer more than they are comfortable with, or commit too much non-refundable earnest money in the offer, because the quicker the sale, the less work the broker has to do for his/her commission; the higher the sale price, the higher the commission to broker; and the more earnest money you pay, the more assurance the broker has that his/her commission will be paid from a portion of the non-refundable earnest money deposit if the sale doesn’t close for some reason. Consider the following examples of problems that arise in real estate purchases/sales.

  • At closing, the seller delivers the deed in a different form than you expected. What if you are presented with an inferior quitclaim deed instead of the warranty deed you expected? The problem at most closings is that the brokers and escrow agents don’t get paid unless the sale closes, so they are naturally inclined to encourage you to close instead of resolving the problem in a manner that protects the buyers’ interests.
  • The seller starts dragging his feet. He is doing everything he can to kill the deal, and you suspect he’s gotten a higher offer. We would threaten to file suit, then file suit if necessary and file a lis pendens, which clouds the title because you have an equitable claim to buy the property. We would ask a court for an order compelling seller to complete the sale and awarding you damages in the amount of your inconvenience and costs.
  • At closing, you find out there is a title defect. An IRS lien pops up, for example. The seller always says, ‘It’s a mistake. Let’s go ahead and close.’ Closing is stressful. Without us there to explain that the IRS lien is a problem and that there is a good chance that you would be buying the property subject to an IRS lien, you may feel pressured to sign the papers to close the deal simply because everyone in the room wants to close the deal.
  • The seller has verbally agreed that the sale price will include appliances and window treatments. Is he still making repairs or promising to remedy a particular problem if it reoccurs? If we represent you, we will make sure your understanding with the seller is in writing and that the seller’s duties to you are enforceable and clearly spelled out in the contract.

As a matter of course, we will evaluate the legal rights you are purchasing when you buy a home, with special attention to the following types of questions: Is the property’s recorded legal description sufficient?; Do the rights include physical access to the property?; Will the title be marketable should I decide to sell or remortgage the property?; Am I buying a lawsuit with my neighbor due to a pre-existing property-line dispute?; What affect does that easement have on my ability to freely use my property?

As part of the job of protecting your interests, our services begin at the first stage of the purchasing or selling process. Once you find a home you like, we draft an offer that includes the kind of protections you need to ensure that you can get out of an offer if you later discover something you do not like about the house. We negotiate the sale price and contingencies on which your offer rests (ex. I offer $200,000.00 to buy this house, but my offer is void if a home inspector of my choosing finds any defect in the structure of the house). We review the title commitment and evaluate the status of title, including making demands upon seller for appropriate legal remedies to clear defects. We prepare or review the closing statement and other closing documents, and inform you of any contingencies that affect your interests, as well as interpret and counsel you regarding all legal documents related to the title and transaction, including deeds, mortgages, and closing statements. We also review offers on seller’s side to determine which offer is in seller’s best interest and represent sellers through the offer/counter-offer process and through closing.

Be prepared and informed every step of the way in your real estate transaction. We offer several levels of involvement in your purchase/sale for flat fees and hourly rates. Call us to find out which service level best suits your needs.

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