July 24, 2017

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Real Estate Law

Real estate (real property) is land and whatever is attached above or below or built on it (fixtures). Rights to real property may be transferred, all at once or split up into pieces.

These transactions may become complex, so it is important to consult a Real Estate Attorney to ensure you make the right choice. View qualified Real Estate Firms in your area to find Real Estate Lawyers to get help with this process.

Property Rights

There are a variety of rights to real property, which may be held by one or several people. These include:

  • Ownership
  • Tenancy – a person has the right to possess and use the land
  • Easement – a neighboring parcel of land has a right to use the land
  • License – a person has a privilege to use the land

Legal Issues

A real estate attorney can help you with a variety of legal issues, including the following:

  • Purchase or sale
  • Lease
  • Neighbor disputes
  • Title opinion
  • Governmental issues

Purchase And Sale

During negotiations to sell land, the buyer and seller typically have a contract that explains the duties of each. Once the deed is issued (typically at closing) the contract disappears (merges with the deed), and anything in the contract that hasn’t been done is no longer enforceable. Often, a mortgage is given in exchange for a loan to purchase property (see also Foreclosure).

Lease

Leases generally convey the right to possess and use land to the tenant; however, the owner (landlord) may retain certain rights to use and enter the premises. The law governing leases of real property is called Landlord Tenant.

Neighbor Disputes

Neighboring property owners often disagree over a variety of issues, including:

  • Ownership of an adjoining parcel (adverse possession)
  • Location of a boundary line
  • Responsibility to maintain a fence
  • Right to travel over a neighbor’s property

Title Opinion

An attorney can issue an opinion of the quality of a seller’s title to property. The attorney will conduct a title search and review all filings and transactions in the property title. Problems include having a lien on (claim by another to the property to satisfy a debt), or another claim to, the property or a part of it (such as an undisclosed, outstanding mortgage). If there are no such problems with the property, the attorney will issue an opinion declaring the title clear.

Governmental Issues

Takings

Government at any level (federal, state or local) may take private property, without consent, as long as it pays just compensation through power called eminent domain. However, there are instances where although the land is not taken by the government, its laws and regulations make the land worthless or unfit for its owner’s purpose; these regulatory takings are usually not compensated.

Zoning

Most zoning is done by local governments and is typically done to separate land uses, such as commercial from residential from industrial. Although there are good reasons to zone, such as to preserve property values, zoning cannot be racially or ethnically discriminatory.

Related areas:

Foreclosure, U.C.C., Landlord/Tenant, International Real Estate Lawyers, Constitutional Law