Skip to main content
Real estate

Real estate

Get the support you need to buy, sell, or manage real estate. Learn about property ownership, lease agreements, eviction, and more.

Mark Louis Stevenson | Dec 5, 2019

Selling a Home in Virginia

Who is on title? Check your source deed (the deed recorded when you purchase a home) to determine who is on title and who has authority to sign for the home. If you do not have a copy of your source deed, ask your settlement company, or pickup a copy from your Clerk's office. Typically it's a few dollars to run a copy. All individuals on title should sign any type of documentation regarding the home, whether it's the Listing Agreement or a Contract. If it's a business entity, the manager or president of the company most likely will need to sign. If it's a trust, then the trustee will need to sign. Title Search Generally in Virginia, the buyer's settlement company will perform an extensive title search looking back around 40 years. However, it's always a good idea to perform a quick seller's only title search to determine if there are any judgments or other issues that the seller may deal with. This preliminary title search would not find old unreleased deeds of trust from previous owners, but would provide a quick glance at the title for starters. List for Sale Work with an agent to list your home for sale on a local listing service. An agent will present a Listing Agreement which you should read well. There will be a period of time where they will require you to list with them exclusively. Also, double check what you will pay in commissions and any brokerage / admin fees. If you choose not to work with an agent, there are plenty of opportunities to list you home on popular real estate sites online. You can also engage with a real estate attorney in the area to help with your listing and legal work involved in the sale. Offer and Contract Typically in Virginia, the buyer's agent will present an offer to purchase. The seller will have a set period of time to review the offer and either accept, counter-offer, or reject completely. Any type of edits to the offer made by the seller constitute a counter-offer. A counter-offer can then be accepted, countered, or rejected by the buyer. The process continues until there is an acceptance of all terms and a "meeting of the minds". Once the offer is fully accepted or ratified, the buyer can continue to move forward with obtaining final loan approval and closing. Inspections After the parties have fully executed the contract, the buyer generally reserves a period of time to perform any and all home inspections. 10-14 days after ratified is normal. Once both sides agree on repairs (if any) then the buyer will continue to move forward with closing. The seller may also need to setup a pest inspection if agreed upon in the contract. Appraisal If the buyer is obtaining financing for the purchase, the lender will request an appraisal to make sure the property has the value needed. If the appraisal comes in lower than needed, the buyer may be able to negotiate a lower price or release from the contract entirely. Closing Assuming everything is moving forward as it should after the home inspection and appraisal, the buyer and seller can then setup a closing time with their respective settlement companies. In Virginia, each side may use their own settlement company of choice. The settlement companies then work together to ensure a smooth closing. The buyer's settlement company is responsible for creating the settlement statement, escrow of funds, recording documents, and disbursement of funds after closing. Once the seller signs the deed and the buyer signs their closing documents and all the closing money is in escrow, then the deal is closed and title transfers to the buyer. Post-closing The settlement company will record the Deed and any applicable mortgage documents with the local Clerk's office. Once the deed is recorded, the settlement agent can disburse funds. The general rule in Virginia is that the funds must be disbursed within 2 business days. It's always a good practice to request copies of your signed settlement documents for future reference.

Matthew Janson McClanahan | Nov 28, 2019

What every HOA Board Member Should Know: The Law of Homeowners Associations in Tennessee

Functions of the HOA • Care and upkeep of Common Areas • PUD/Condo- maintenance, moving, repairs and replacement • Enforcement of community standards and CC&R’s • Collection of annual or special assessments or dues Governing Documents • Charter • Bylaws • Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions(CC&Rs) • Rules and regulations What do the Charter and Bylaws lay out? • Non Profit Corporation • Members • Voting Rights and Procedures • Rights and Responsibilities • Board of Directors What do the CC&Rs define and explain? • Land or lots subject to • Common Areas • Restrictions, terms and conditions • Rights and responsibilities of owners Enforcement of CC&Rs • Property owners have a fundamental right to the free use and enjoyment of their property. Hughes v. New Life Dev. Corp, 387 S.W.3d 453(Tenn. 2012) • However, land owners may voluntarily enter into agreements with other land owners to restrict the use of their property in a way that is mutually beneficial. See id at 475. Restrictive covenants are in essence contractual obligations. Hughes, at 475. • Established rule of law that a person owning a body of land may sell portions thereof and make restrictions as to its use for the benefit of himself as well as those to whom he sells other potions of the land. Carr v. Trivett, 143 S.W. 2d 900 (Tenn. 1940) Interpretation of CC&Rs • Rules governing the interpretation of restrictive covenants are generally the same as those applicable to contracts. Aldridge v. Morgan, 912 S.W. 2d 151 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1995) • The primary task is to determine the intention of the parties as expressed by the plain and ordinary meaning in the covenants. Bernier v. Morrow, No. M2012-01984-COA-R3-CV, 2013 WL 1804072 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 26, 2013 • However, because restrictive covenants are in derogation of the right to freely use and enjoy one’s property, they are strictly construed. Williams v. Fox, 219 S.W.3d 319 (Tenn. 2007) • Courts resolve any ambiguities in a manner which advances the unrestricted use of the property. Williams at 324. • Courts refrain from extending a restrictive covenant to any activity not clearly and expressly prohibited by its plain terms. Id. • When the terms of a covenant may be construed more than one way, the courts must resolve any ambiguities against the party seeking to enforce the restriction. Id. Community Wide Standard • The law does not require that restrictive covenants be specific in their criteria. Avalon Sections 4, 6 & 7 Homeowners Ass’n. v. Chaudhuri, 2014 WL 2949458 (Tenn. Ct. App 2014) • When restrictive covenants establish a review committee but do not contain specific criteria for the committee to follow, the validity of the criteria and the committee’s interpretation will be judged by a standard of reasonableness. Id Common HOA Disputes • Disputes with Developer • Upkeep and maintenance of homes and common areas • Violations of use restrictions • Commercial/Business use of home • Dues and assessments • Collection/Remedies/Liens HOA Board Actions and Decisions • Generally, courts will not disturb a decision by a homeowner association unless it is shown that the association acted unreasonably or in bad faith. Id. • The burden of proof is on the homeowner to show that the HOA acted unreasonably or without good faith. Id.

Nicholas R. McDaniels | Nov 25, 2019

Failure to Pay Rent Actions in Baltimore City

Filing the Complaint The first step is filing a Failure to Pay Rent Form (DC-CV-082) with the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore, City located at 501 E. Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. The current form is a carbonless multi-part form and will need to be picked up from the Court. Summons and Service of Process Once the case is filed, the Court will issue a summons. The Court will mail copies of the summons and complaint to the tenant and the Sheriff will post the documents on the property. This gives the tenant notice that he/she may be evicted and that a hearing has been set regarding the tenant’s alleged failure to pay rent. The Trial/Hearing On the day of the trial/hearing, the landlord will be the first to present their side of the argument regarding the amount of unpaid rent. The tenant will then present their side of the story. After trial/hearing from both sides, the Court will determine whether the tenant does, in fact, owe the alleged amount of rent. If the Court determines that the tenant does owe the landlord unpaid rent, the Court may enter judgment for possession in favor of the landlord. *The landlord should bring to the hearing all documents and evidence that support their claim including the Lease, ledgers, tenant records, canceled checks, receipts and any photographs.* If a Party Fails to Appear If either party fails to appear to the trial/hearing, the Court may postpone the trial/hearing, issue a judgment, or dismiss the case. The Tenant's Right of Redemption Once judgment for possession has been entered, the tenant no longer has the right to live in the property. The tenant can avoid eviction by paying the amount of unpaid rent, plus court costs, at any time before the eviction date. However, if the tenant has four (4) judgments of possession entered against them within 12 months, the landlord may ask the Court to deny the tenant’s right to redeem. Filing for Eviction The landlord must wait four business days following the judgment to begin the eviction process. After four business days, the landlord may ask the Court to issue a warrant by filing the Warrant of Restitution (DC-CV-081). This is also a carbonless multi-part form that must be picked up from the Court. The landlord has 60 days following the judgment to file the Warrant of Restitution or the case will be dismissed. Notice of Eviction Recommended After the Warrant of Restitution is filed, the Court will enter a judgment and the Sheriff will set a date for eviction. The landlord does not have to give the tenant notice of the eviction date. However, notice is recommended so the tenant has a chance to remove personal property. Performing the Eviction On the date of the eviction, the landlord or an agent will need to be present at the property. The landlord should come prepared to change the locks. Furthermore, following the eviction, the landlord will have the duty to dispose of the tenant’s belongings in an appropriate manner.

Roy David Oppenheim | Nov 16, 2019

Breach Of Real Estate Contract Attorneys

Breach of Real Estate Contracts Real estate disputes often arise because a party to the transaction has committed a breach of contract. A common dispute is when a seller wrongfully refuses to transfer title to the buyer or when either the buyer or seller has defaulted on a purchase agreement or other contract in connection to the real estate transaction. Unless otherwise limited by the legal document, there are four basic remedies available to the wronged party. LEARN MORE: Money Damages In Florida, a buyer who breaches a sales contract may be liable to the seller for monetary damages. This is usually calculated as the difference between the contracted price and the market value (minus any deposits or other monies the breaching buyer has already given to the seller). The seller may alternatively bring an action for specific performance (described below). However, specific performance is usually more effectively used by a wronged buyer than by a wronged seller, the reason being that a breaching buyer will simply claim that he cannot financially satisfy a judicial decree requiring him to purchase the subject property. Termination of the Contract In some cases, the best remedy to seek is termination of the contract. This usually involves the buyer being refunded his or her deposit as well as expenses incurred during the failed transaction such as attorney fees, survey fees, title inspection fees and other costs of examination. Specific Performance of the Contract An action requesting specific performance involves a party asking the court to force the opposing party to perform their contractual obligations. A judge ruling that the seller MUST sell the house to the buyer is an example of specific performance being used as a remedy. Liquidated Damages Parties to a contract may want to agree in advance as to the amount that will be owed by a breaching party. This amount will be set forth in the contract and will not be disputed if a breach occurs. These are called liquidated damages. However, in order for liquidated damages to be enforceable, they cannot act as a form of punishment against the breaching party. Additionally, liquidated damages will usually only be enforceable if it is determined that calculating actual damages for the particular breach at issue is difficult and the liquidated damages are reasonable under the circumstances. An example of liquidated damages can be found in a standard residential sales contract that states that if the buyer fails to perform his/her obligations under the contract, the seller is entitled to keep the deposit. What happens if you breach a real estate contract? If you want out of a real estate contract and don't have any contingencies available, you can breach the contract. ... The seller could also decide to sue you for breach of contract. Some real estate contracts have a “liquidated damages” clause that states the maximum the seller can keep if the buyers breach the contract. What does breach of contract mean in real estate? A real estate contract contains many terms and conditions that are integral to the contract. A breach of contract occurs when a party to the contract, either oral or written, fails to perform any of the contract's terms. Can real estate contracts be broken? When you sign a real estate contract as either a buyer or a seller, you have committed yourself to an agreement that is legally binding. ... Fortunately, it is possible to break your contract. You just have to be prepared to deal with the consequences, whatever those happen to be Have an Experienced Real Estate Attorney It is important to have an experienced attorney, capable of formulating a winning strategy to handle your breach of contract case. Breach of contract cases are filled with obstacles. We will work with you, side-by-side, to help ensure you receive proper compensation from the wrongdoing of a buyer or seller. Our Breach of Real Estate Contracts Lawyers serve Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Miami-Dade & Florida State. Please contact us online or by phone at 954-384-6114 to schedule a consultation. Oppenheim Law | Breach of Real Estate Contracts Attorneys 2500 Weston Rd #404 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33331 954-384-6114

Customer testimonial

“I needed advice with a non-standard real estate property development situation. Attorney Weaver offered clear and concise advice on how to move forward with the business deal and what potential legal documents may be required.”

— Real estate law client, March 2016

Scott Roberts Weaver

Scott Weaver

Real estate attorney