Written by Avvo Staff

What are the possible outcomes of a real estate case?

When buying, selling, and managing real estate, you may run into any number of legal issues. Learn the common problems buyer's and seller's may experience, and discover potential outcomes.

Buying or selling property

A number of legal issues could arise during the buying or selling process.

  • Disclosure. The buyer may accuse the property owner of not providing all relevant information, such as property defects and, depending on the district, whether the property is stigmatized.
  • Contingencies. Sometimes, a purchase agreement will explicitly state that certain conditions, like selling a current home or passing a home inspection, must be met for the contract to be valid.
  • Easement. When a building or driveway encroaches on a neighbor's land, a license agreement is necessary to resolve the situation before closing a property sale.

In all these cases, real estate lawyers will attempt to settle the matter before it goes to court. If it cannot be settled, it will go to trial. The judge will decide whether the sale should go ahead or be terminated.


A lender may begin foreclosure proceedings if a homeowner repeatedly misses mortgage payments. In foreclosure, the lender attempts to force the property's sale to recover the loan's balance.

Depending on their state, homeowners have several options for retaining their homes even after foreclosure proceedings begin. For example, a homeowner could

  • Apply to have their loan terms modified, either through the lender or aHome Affordable Modification Program.
  • Negotiate with lender for partial payments in the short term.
  • File for bankruptcy to delay foreclosure.

Failing these measures, a homeowner may accept the need to surrender his or her home. According to Ray Garcia, a foreclosure attorney in Miami, Florida, it's smart to try to avoid the formal foreclosure process as it can damage the homeowner's credit score.

These processes may keep the case out of court:

  • Surrender home with deed in lieu of foreclosure.
  • Negotiate with a lender for a short sale.
  • Sell the property.

If a foreclosure case goes to trial, the judge may rule that the lender can sell the property or dismiss the case, allowing the homeowner to retain the property unless an appeal is made.

Land use

Local, state, and federal land use laws determine how land can be used now and in the future. Common land use law disputes can concern the following:

  • Easements and land use law. Easements aren't only a factor when buying or selling a home. At any time a neighbor can challenge a property or driveway that impinges on their land.

  • Zoning laws. Cases may arise when property is used for a non-authorized purpose, such as a commercial building operating on land zoned for residential use.

  • Eminent domain and land use law. Governments have the right to take privately owned land after paying compensation, even without the owner's consent.

  • Drainage laws. Properties must have adequate drainage, as specified by local legislation. As in buying and selling property cases, lawyers attempt to settle land law cases before they go to trial. If an agreement cannot be reached, a case will be heard before a judge, who will decide the appropriate action necessary.

Neighbor law

Neighbor law cases look to resolve disputes arising when homeowners or renters feel their legal rights are being breached by their neighbors. Neighbor law cases may involve the following:

  • Boundary disputes
  • Noise complaints
  • Blocked views
  • Harassment
  • Noisy or trespassing pets

Ideally, a real estate lawyer will be able to resolve these cases during mediation, preventing them from ever going to trial. If a neighbor law case goes to trial, a judge will determine whether any neighbor needs to modify their actions or property to resolve the dispute. A fine may also be issued if a neighbor is deemed to have broken any laws.

Understanding more about property cases and the potential outcomes of these can help you feel more confident as you resolve your own real estate issues.

Speak to a local real estate lawyer to help with your legal issue.

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