Buying or selling a property can feel like an expensive and complicated process. Some people believe that they can save money by not hiring a real estate attorney. However, real estate attorneys are incredibly beneficial, and they can save you money and help you protect your assets. As a state, Florida does not legally require parties to hire a real estate attorney when purchasing or selling their home, but let us make a case why you always should.
What does a Real Estate Attorney Do?
Real estate law is a type of civil law that handles the buying, selling, and title disputes of properties and land (both commercial and residential). Real estate attorneys specialize in real estate law cases and protect their clients against any legal issues that might arise during the buying or selling of a property, or resolving real estate disputes.
What are the Benefits of Using a Real Estate Attorney?
A real estate attorney is an additional layer of security when making one of the largest purchases of your life. Your real estate lawyer will help you throughout the entire process and has your best interests in mind.
From beginning to end, your real estate lawyer will review all paperwork to identify mistakes or areas of concern. Before you sell a property, your real estate attorney may go over the listing agreement you made with your real estate agent to ensure the terms are in your favor. As offers come in, your lawyer will inspect the documents to identify any red flags or highlight tax considerations that will impact you later. If you are a buyer, your real estate attorney will research the history of the property, ensure the zoning is up to code, identify any unpaid property tax or utility bills, and inspect the title and title insurance documents.
When it comes time to the final step, real estate attorneys will draft contracts including the review title, mortgage transfer documents, write the deed and check the final breakdown of the settlement to ensure correct payment of funds. Some examples of the contracts your real estate lawyer will draft for you include the Agreement of Sale, the Agreement of Purchase, and the title and closing documentation.
If issues arise, such as alien or judgment on the title, or issues around disclosure, your real estate attorney will protect your best interests. At times, some real estate disputes will go to court, and your attorney can represent you.
While real estate attorneys are optional in Florida, you should always hire an attorney if you are facing a foreclosure, you’re considering a short sale, there are liens or judgments on the title, you’re selling on behalf of a deceased owner, you’re going through a divorce, you have rental tenants, or you expect the sale to be complicated for one reason or another. A real estate attorney is almost guaranteed to be needed at some point, especially if the sale is complicated in some way.
Real Estate Law in Florida
There are two important aspects to real estate law in Florida you should keep in mind. Firstly, Florida has one of the most favorable homestead exemptions in the country. Homestead laws enable people to safeguard their homes by allowing homebuyers to keep a portion of their homes protected. In Florida, there is no limit to the portion of your home that can be protected. This essentially means your entire home could be protected from creditors, even after filing for bankruptcy in Florida. However, keep in mind that property lines established before the homestead take a precedent over the homestead.
Secondly, Florida has adverse possession laws that allow an individual to be granted the title to a neglected property. Individuals can qualify for possession if they have: lived on the property for at least seven years, paid the property taxes during that time, and have significantly improved the state of the home. The adverse possession laws in Florida are complicated. Whether you are trying to claim property, or dispute another individual’s claim to your property, a real estate attorney is necessary.
At Thompson & Thomspon, P.A., the client’s needs are our top priority. With over 40 years of experience, there isn’t a real estate case we have not dealt with before. When it comes to buying, selling, or disputing a property issue, there is a lot of money on the line. Protect yourself and your assets by hiring a qualified and experienced real estate attorney. Call us today for your free initial consultation at 561-295-3530.