Buying and selling a home or commercial piece of land is one of the most important personal and financial commitments an individual or business may make. That is why it is crucial to know exactly what you buy, in terms of boundaries, title, and the condition of the premises. Real Estate law provides protections for buyers, sellers, land owners, contractors, real estate agents, and builders.

During the transaction, it is important that the sales and purchase documents are well written in order to avoid problems and delays later on. Litigation might arise where the parties to a transaction have a dispute.

Real estate litigation may involve:

  • Zoning;
  • Construction defect;
  • Homeowners associations; or
  • Boundary disputes.

Other common real estate and property law disputes include:

Real estate and property law also governs the financial aspects of real property, including:

In addition, certain wills and trust issues may fall under the umbrella of real estate and property law. They may also be separated under its own subtopic of estate law.

State Law vs. Federal Law

  • State real estate law regulates commercial and residential real property transactions and landlord-tenant relationships.
  • Federal law protections exist for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and for environmental violations. For more specific information about this topic, see the Real Estate and Property Law article.

What Is Commercial Real Estate Law?

Commercial real estate law governs the sale and transfer of properties for business use. In many cases, property is sold and purchased for commercial use.

Commercial real estate law also includes other issues, such as:

  • Commercial leases;
  • Property and land use;
  • Liquor licensing; and
  • Zoning issues.

For example, the majority of state and local laws prohibit business activities in residential areas and vice versa. Therefore, commercial real estate laws also regulate how property may be utilized in certain sectors of town versus other areas.

What Is Construction Law?

Construction laws govern all aspects of building, from the bidding process to negotiation and drafting of construction contracts. Constructions are also used to resolve construction disputes which may arise between the parties to a construction contract.

What Are Some Tips to Know About Buying or Selling Property?

The purchase and sale of a residence may be done by an individual on their own. However, it is typically executed with the help of an experienced broker or agent.

Although having a broker can make the sale of an individual’s home much easier, it also requires entering into contracts and paying commissions. If an individual decides to sell their property using an agent, a real estate lawyer can review their contract with the agent prior to signing.

An attorney can also provide important information regarding issues related to the sale and purchase of property, including:

In addition, some residences may be located in common interest communities. These communities are typically constructed by one developer, have a governing body or association, and have specific rules regarding the use of property.

There are several key terms and tips which may be useful to know when an individual is involved in purchasing or selling property, including:

  • Brokers: Buying and selling property is typically done through an agent that is commonly known as a real estate broker. Brokers either help individuals find property to purchase, or in the alternative, assist owners in selling their property. Brokers also manage all of the paperwork that is involved with property transactions;
  • Disclosures: In the event that an individual is selling their home, they must be sure to reveal any property defects that they are aware of, which refers to things like structural or electrical problems. This duty to disclose is known as the disclosure of material defects or simply, disclosure; and
  • Buyer’s duties: Usually, the potential purchaser of property has a right to inspect the property prior to closing for any potential defects or zoning issues. In addition, a buyer should also check to see if there are any mortgages or liens on the property. Buyers can review this information at their local county recorder’s office.

If an individual is renting a property, it is important to be aware of the duties that a landlord owes their tenant pursuant to landlord tenant law, including:

  • Habitability: This means that a landlord guarantees that the property is habitable, or livable, referred to as the implied warranty of habitability, and that they regularly maintain the property. Part of this duty requires a landlord to repair any problems which may arise, such as heating or plumbing issues;
  • Ordinances: A landlord guarantees that the property conforms to both city and state laws;
  • Duty to deliver possession: Although this will depend upon the jurisdiction, landlords generally have a duty to deliver possession of the premises to a tenant, such as giving keys to the tenant and ensuring that no one else lives within the housing unit; and
  • Implied covenant of quiet enjoyment: This refers to the tenant’s right to have a landlord not interfere with their use of the premises, such as by making the property uninhabitable or by wrongfully evicting a tenant in some way.

It is important to note that tenants also have their own duties to uphold when the rent property, including:

  • Paying rent on time and in accordance with the terms of their lease;
  • Following any rules or restrictions listed within the lease, such as no pets, no loud noise, etc.;
  • Not using the premises for an illegal purpose, such as dealing drugs or gambling in states where it is illegal; and
  • Making ordinary repairs and performing upkeep to the property, including not vandalizing the apartment and alerting the landlord if there is an issue with the plumbing, etc.

If a tenant fails to adhere to the terms of the lease, it will result in a breach of the lease and may lead the individual:

  • To lose their security deposit;
  • Subject them to further money damages; and
  • May even cause them to face eviction.

How Will a Mortgage Affect Me?

Many people seek financing through mortgages either to buy real property or to afford improvements on the property. As with any other debt, it is necessary for those interested in mortgages to be aware of the nature and offers of the lending institution. The loan is often secured by a mortgage on the residence or commercial property. Failure to make payments may result in foreclosure.

What Is a Real Estate and Property Exchange?

Real estate exchange is a legal alternative to a regular purchase and sale of a property, which typically provides a taxpayer or property owner with an income tax break. Although the proceeds from the sale are subject to taxation by the United States government, an exchange circumvents this issue by trading one property for another, which eliminates taxable gains from the transaction.

Do I Need an Attorney’s Help?

Understanding the nuances of local real estate law is often difficult. Complex transactions are best handled using the services of a lawyer that specializes in real estate law and has a demonstrated proficiency in this field.

Additionally, any concerns regarding the condition or boundaries of the land, title, or mortgage should also be evaluated by a lawyer. Present your case to a real estate lawyer now.

How to Prepare for a Consultation with a Real Estate Attorney

Real Estate law is what provides the legal guidelines and protections for those involved in the sale and purchase of real property. Real property refers to property that is affixed to the land, or a piece of land itself, as opposed to personal property, which is property that is typically…