Real Estate Attorney

We have considerable experience in all phases of real estate transactions. We represent both buyers and sellers, lessors and lessees, and plaintiffs and defendants in these transactions or lawsuits.

Real Estate Purchase and Sale

In a real estate purchase and sale transaction, it is very important that the initial documents, such as a Purchase and Sale Agreement be reviewed by your legal attorney before it is signed, since your signature normally forms a binding contract. A review subsequent to signing, usually results in your legal attorney simply explaining to you what you have already committed yourself to do in a real estate transaction.

The usual documents involved in a real estate transaction involve a «Purchase and Sale Agreement», «Earnest Money Agreement», and a preliminary title report, followed by either a «Real Estate Contract», «Deed of Trust» (Trust Deed), or «Mortgage». The Deed of Trust and Mortgage are secured by a promissory note. The closing of your transaction normally occurs at the office of the title company issuing your title insurance policy. It is important that you ask your contact at the title insurance company to explain the various types of title insurance policies you may purchase. This is especially important when you are purchasing a new home or structure, which may have construction liens filed against the real estate property after you have closed.

Real Estate Options and Leases

For varying reasons, it is quite common for parties to enter into an «Option Agreement» to buy and sell a parcel of real estate property. Depending on the type of real estate property involved, the option may be combined with an agreement to lease the property which is the subject of the option.

Normally, commercial leases are considerably different than residential leases and subject to normal business contract law, as opposed to the statute requirements under the residential lease, leaving the parties free to negotiate whatever terms they may choose.

Real Estate Easements

Easements are rights that a party has in relation to a portion of property not owned by them, but by another individual. Real estate easements may be in the form of a «grant of easement», where one property owner agrees to grant an easement to an adjoining property owner for a specific purpose, such as ingress and egress. However, easements may exist by operation of law, which means it was not granted or intended, but due to certain circumstances, an easement is determined to exist. This determination is usually made by a court of law or sometimes by the agreement of the adjoining property owners to avoid a court action.

There are variations from the normal real estate easement, such as a permissive use, wherein the person may grant the same rights to a neighbor for ingress and egress, but may terminate those rights at any time.

Real Estate Boundary Disputes

Boundary disputes normally occur when an individual has a piece of real estate property surveyed that they own, just bought, or are buying and then discover that the neighbor?s fence or road is on his or her piece of property. If the neighbors have occupied that portion of the property in a certain manner for a specific period of time, the neighbor may, by operation of law, be considered the owner of that portion of the property. There are various reasons for these situations to arise, including an old survey that incorrectly marked the real estate property lines at one time. These disputes tend to be quite volatile and quite often must be adjudicated, due to the conflicting accounts as to what has occurred on the contested portion of the property over the years in question.

Real Estate Foreclosures and Forfeitures

A «forfeiture» usually involves the foreclosure of a real estate contract due to the non-payment by a contract buyer of payments when due. A «foreclosure» refers to a foreclosure of a Deed of Trust (Trust Deed) or a Mortgage due to a buyer’s failure to make payments on a promissory note, which is secured by the Deed of Trust or Mortgage.

A Deed of Trust and Real Estate Contract are normally foreclosed non-judicially, or in other words, without filing a lawsuit. Therefore, written notices are given which advise the real estate buyer of the defaults and how they may be cured. These notices are given by mail and/or posting. These procedures may be initiated for other than non-monetary reasons as set forth in the particular written agreement. In some cases, it may be decided to foreclose judicially, or in other words, by filing a lawsuit, however, that is less common.

A Mortgage must be foreclosed judicially. However, real estate mortgages are rarely used any more by individuals or financial institutions. In most forfeiture or foreclosure actions, the party foreclosing will be entitled to be reimbursed for all or a portion of the fees and costs incurred when the defaulting party cures the default. If the foreclosure is completed without the default being cured, the foreclosing party will receive the real estate property back, but must pay all fees and costs incurred. In the vast majority of cases, there is sufficient equity in the property received by the foreclosing party to pay these fees and costs.

Real Estate Condemnations

Condemnations may be direct or inverse. A direct condemnation is where a governmental body believes it needs to take a portion or all of your real estate property to, for example, widen the road or something of this nature. There may be a question as to whether or not they actually have this right due to the nature of the project or whether the compensation offered for the real estate is adequate. The compensation received should compensate you for all of your losses, including the value of the land taken, the loss of the value of any portion of the property you may still retain, the loss of any income related to a business you operate on the premises and damages incurred by a tenant who may be affected.

Land Use

Land use is a broad area of real estate which is sometimes misunderstood by many. Simplistically, land use refers to the development of real property in compliance with various federal, state, county, local and city rules and regulations, including those which deal with environmental issues. Done properly, this requires that your legal representatives spend considerable time dealing with various individuals in numerous government agencies. It is not unusual for these proceedings to take a considerable amount of time and extend over a long period of time, especially if any issues cannot be resolved at the administrative level.

Attorneys Practicing in Real Estate: Ronald W. Greenen