Real estate law is a complicated practice area where even straightforward transactions involve large amounts of money.
The more complex and high value the transaction is the more likely someone will try to get away with something that is not in your best interest.
Whether you are buying, selling or leasing commercial or residential property in the Greater Orlando area, or you need experienced legal representation to protect your interests in court, we have the knowledge and expertise to protect your rights.
Even simple looking real estate transactions have a lot of different players; brokers, agents, title companies, lenders, loan processors, home inspectors, appraisers, and closing agents.
Their role is to get the transaction closed not to protect your rights and interests.
They can’t provide legal advice, or explain the legal repercussions about a clause in a document or an entire document. Only a real estate attorney can provide legal advice about the transaction.
Our lawyers bring the same degree of dedication and professionalism to every real estate transaction whether it is attending a closing for a first-time home buyer or conducting due diligence and title services for a multi-million-dollar real estate development deal. Give us a call and find out how our real estate lawyers can help you. (407) 259-2426 or Schedule a Consultation
From simple residential transactions like purchasing a single family home to complex commercial real estate litigation our attorneys can help you achieve your goals.
Based in Orlando, Florida our law firm provides a comprehensive set of real estate legal services.
We represent, buyers, sellers, landowners, landlords, investors, commercial and residential developers, brokers, lenders; as-well-as homeowners and condominium associations in every aspect of real estate law.
We provide a wide range of real estate legal services:
Unlike agents, attorneys are not paid on commission. They have no incentive to lead you into a transaction that is not completely in your best interest. Agents have a set of ethical rules that they must follow. However, the ethical guidelines that govern lawyers are much stricter.
Lawyers can give you legal advice and are required to only work in your best interest. They cannot, unlike an agent, also represent the other side of a legal transaction.
Agents cannot give advice on real estate law, or the legality of any transaction in part or in whole. They are limited in what changes they are allowed to make to closing documents. They cannot review the sales agreement, closing documents, or mortgage contracts or advise you. However, real estate attorneys can make any needed changes to any legal document. They are also able to perform a variety of other services, such as title services, that real agents cannot.
Agents work hard and you should use their services to help you find the right property to buy or the right buyer for your property. However, an agent is not a substitute for a lawyer.
Real estate attorneys can help you as much or as little as you need. Some clients only need one or two discreet services such as help with a title search. However, other clients need detailed legal advice and help with a variety of different legal services; such as, structuring and setting up a complex holding company, doing a commercial lease review, or negotiating a commercial transaction, just to name a few.
We will do whatever is required to protect our client’s interests and complete the transaction as efficiently as possible.
Title Related Services: Real estate lawyers perform title research. This involves tracing the title of the property back through all of the previous owners to make sure that all title defects and encumbrances are known. Once any defects are discovered, they can work to cure or clear the defects and arrange title commitment and title insurance.
Real Estate Document Services: Real estate attorneys negotiate, draft, and review key documents including sales contracts, titles, deeds and mortgages. While there are a lot of legal protections in place for residential home buyers, commercial buyers and investors must watch after their own interests. No matter how simple transaction appears, it is always a good idea to have an experienced real estate lawyer review the documents to make sure that there is nothing hidden or unexpected in the documents that could cause you trouble at a later date.
Commercial and Residential Real Estate Services: Real estate lawyers prepare and register closing documents for commercial and residential real estate transactions. They also review mortgage and loan terms. If there are physical issues with the property or you recently bought a piece of property and discovered some major defect after the purchase was completed, they can help you recover damages or possibly rescind the sale, depending on the circumstance. They can attend the closing with you and review paperwork before you sign. They can also arrange for escrow to be transferred.
Each group enters into different types of transactions that are governed by different laws and regulations. Each type of client also has different exposure to legal and financial risks. The job of the real estate lawyer is to calibrate their services and advice to the specific wants and needs of the client. For each type of client, they may either be deeply involved in all of the transaction details or simply be called upon to offer advice or services about one or two parts of the transaction.
Residential home buyers and sellers already have many legal protections in place to make sure they are getting what they bargained for. However, because even the sale of a small house involves large sums of money and a thick set of legal documents, it is a good idea to have your own real estate attorney carefully review the documents you are going to sign at closing. That single transaction will likely impact your financial life for the next 20 or 30 years, depending on the length of the mortgage you are undertaking.
If you are going to be making substantial amendments or revisions to the standard sales contract, you will need the services of an attorney to negotiate, review, or draft the amendments. Depending on your situation you may be locked into the house or mortgage for years, it is important to make sure that you do everything right.
FARBAR: In Florida, most of the documents used in residential real estate transactions are standardized. The Florida Association of Realtors and the Florida Bar Association have created the standardized purchasing contracts used in most residential transactions. These standard contracts are known as FARBAR. There are also a set of standardized FARBAR addendums to the contract.
However, if you need something changed in the contract that is not covered by the standardized forms, your agent cannot legally write the addendum for you. Instead, you would need the help of an attorney.
Buyers and sellers of commercial properties do not have the same protections and standardized forms available to the parties to a residential transaction. Buying a commercial property is much more complicated than buying a home. Everything from the negotiations to the financing to the sales contract are much more involved when dealing with a commercial transaction.
Because commercial transactions require a lot of due diligence, you should have a real estate attorney on your team as early in the process as possible to make sure your interests are being looked after. Unlike a residential purchases, you will most likely bear the burden for any problems with the property that you did not properly investigate or inquire about beforehand.
Due Diligence: Due diligence in a commercial transaction means thoroughly looking over all of the details of the commercial property, the seller, and the financing. This process is designed to make sure that the property is exactly as the seller claims and that there are not any hidden defects or liabilities that could make the property a problem for your business.
Some of the things a real estate lawyer will examine and investigate as part of the due diligence phase include:
The actual list of due diligence items will vary depending on the type of commercial real estate transaction.
Investors often buy residential and commercial properties. However, they have an entirely different set of needs and legal considerations than either homeowners or companies. They are typically not able to take advantage of any of the protections Florida gives to residential home buyers.
This means that like commercial buyers, investors should hire a real estate attorney to help with due diligence.
Investors also may need help with the best corporate structure to hold their acquisitions. This could involve a single organization like an LLC, or a series of different corporate entities to increase liability protection and to maximize any tax savings.
Real estate attorneys also help investors with financing and profit distribution issues. They can review and negotiate terms with lenders. They can also create the legal documents that properly memorialize any profit distribution agreements between different investors.
Tax Considerations: Often one of the biggest issues investors need help with is structuring transactions and holdings to minimize the investor’s tax liability. Everything from the way a property is held to when it is bought or sold can affect the taxes the investor will have to pay.
Real estate attorneys can also help with Like kind exchanges, also known as 1031 exchanges. These types of transactions are popular with investors because done properly it can allow investors to acquire new properties without an outlay of cash and without realizing taxable income on the transaction. However, the IRS often carefully scrutinizes 1031 exchanges. It is critical that these deals are properly documented and structured to avoid expensive problems with the IRS during an audit later on.
Real estate lawyers don’t just represent buyers and sellers. They also represent banks and other lenders. In the world of commercial property development and investors, there are no standard contracts. Because of the complexity of the transactions and the large amounts of money involved, each sales contract and financing vehicle will be individualized to the specific details of the transaction.
Lenders need real estate lawyers to make sure their interests are protected. They will draft and review legal documents, make sure any liens are properly attached, and work to make sure the lender’s secured interest is the highest priority possible.
They will also conduct their own due diligence to make sure the property that the prospective borrower wants to acquire does not increase the risk level of any loan.
We recognize that not every residential transaction requires a real estate attorney. If you are buying a home that you will use as your primary residence and the transaction uses a FARBAR purchase contract, you may not need an attorney.
However, if you will not be using a FARBAR purchase contract, or if you are an investor, or you are buying a commercial property, you should have a real estate attorney working with you as early in the process as possible.
They can provide important guidance at every step of a transaction. They are also in the best position to review and draft precise legal documents that make sure your interests are fully protected.
Negotiating the Transaction: Real estate attorneys help buyers, sellers, and lenders negotiate the terms of the deal. They also conduct the due diligence to make sure the everything with the property checks out. During this phase, their primary job is being alert for any risks that could harm the client if they are not properly addressed. Often, especially in commercial properties, particular risks are addressed with changes in the purchase price, indemnification agreements, or insurance.
The more complex a transaction is, the more important it is to involve a real estate attorney in the negotiation process. This will make the later review and drafting of legal documents more efficient because the attorney will already be familiar with the contours of the deal.
Review & Drafting Legal Documents: Because real estate transactions involve hundreds of thousands, millions, or tens of millions of dollars, it makes sense to have a real estate lawyer carefully review all of the legal documents before you sign them.
Often contracts are written to favor sellers. You want a real estate lawyer working with you to point out any clauses that are unfair or that make the deal undesirable.
They have years of experience handling complex transactions. They know how courts will interpret different clauses and phrases in a purchase contract. They can also draft the legal documents you need for your specific situation.
When you are dealing with an important investment you don’t want a one-size-fits-all solution. You want a carefully crafted agreement narrowly tailored to your needs.
Title Issues: Title is the system for keeping track of land and real property ownership. The title history of a piece of property is about more than just who has bought and sold the property. The title history should also detail the type of ownership interest that was bought and sold, any easements, any liens, or any other encumbrances on the property.
However, sometimes there are problems with the chain of title. If a problem with the title is not properly resolved it could jeopardize your ownership interest in the property you purchased or make it tough for you to sell the property in the future.
Title related services are some of the most valuable legal services a real estate attorney offers. They can review the title history and work to resolve any issues.
Closing Services: If you are buying a home you may not need a real estate attorney to conduct due diligence or draft a complex purchase agreement. However, you are still dealing with a lot of money and a stack of legal forms to sign before the home becomes yours. It makes sense to be cautious before entering into a big transaction and have an attorney attend the closing with you to make sure everything is in order.
They also have an important role to play in closings of commercial properties and representing lenders and investors at closings. Their role in these situations is to provide one final check that everything is going according to plan and the transaction is being closed on the agreed terms.