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Real Estate Glossary & FAQ’s

What is real estate and why do I need a real estate lawyer?

Real estate, also called real property, refers to land and things attached to land. For most consumers, real estate consists of their home and the lot surrounding it. Commercial real estate may include factories, equipment and other facilities. In addition to buildings and equipment, resources existing on or under the land, including minerals and gas are part of real estate. Some of these aspects of real estate can be sold separately; for example, a farmer could sell the mineral rights to a specific field to a mining company while retaining the right to farm the surface.

Numerous federal and state laws regulate the purchase, sale, transfer, refinance and other transactions involving real property. For this reason, people involved in a real estate transaction should seek the advice of experienced counsel. At Addabbo & Greenberg, we have years of experience in real estate law and an experienced lawyer, not a paralegal, will handle your closing.

What are deeds and why are they important?
Deeds transfer and document ownership of real estate by containing the old and new owners, a legal description of the property and notarized signatures. There are different kinds of deeds, such as a Bargain and Sale, quitclaim, or Fiduciary deed. There are different kinds of deeds, such as a quitclaim, grant or warranty deed. Your attorney will advise you of the best deed for your situation. A deed is very important to a real estate transaction and should be recorded in the appropriate records office such as the County Clerk’s Office. Recording the deed gives public notice of real estate ownership.

What is the difference ways two people can own real estate?
There are different legal forms for multiple people to own real estate. Each type of ownership has different implications upon death of an owner or other contingency. The attorneys of Addabbo & Greenberg can help you determine which form of ownership is best under your circumstances. Here is a brief overview:

Joint Tenancy is one way that more than one person can own a piece of real estate in equal proportions with a right of survivorship among the parties.
Married couples own real estate as Tenants By-The-Entirety which allows the real estate to transfer to the other owner/spouse upon death. Tenants By-The-Entirety is similar to a Joint Tenancy, except each spouse holds an undivided half of the property.

Tenants in Common can own equal or unequal shares of the property and this is a common way for commercial partners and cohabiting unmarried couples to hold property.

An experienced Real Estate Attorney can advise what form suits your need.

What are mortgages and how do they work?
A mortgage interest in a piece of property is created when a bank, individual financier or other financial institution provides a loan for the purchase of real estate. The financier is called the “mortgagee” and the borrower the “mortgagor”. The mortgagor’s loan is secured by an interest in the property. There are multiple mortgage options available to purchasers with fixed, adjustable and/or a combination of interest rates. A mortgage obligation is a serious undertaking and borrowers need the advice of the lawyers at Addabbo & Greenberg to understand the circumstances, benefits and risks of their particular financial arrangements.

What do I need to know about Mortgage Foreclosures?
If the borrower fails to comply with the terms of a mortgage, the lender may begin a process of taking back their interest in the property through foreclosure. In a foreclosure, the borrower often losses their investment in the property. The lawyers at Addabbo & Greenberg can help you avoid foreclosure, even if you can not comply with the original terms of your mortgage. But, to do this, it’s important that you call us immediately or as soon thereafter when a problem with repayment arises. We are here to help you.

Once I buy a piece of property, can I do whatever I want with it?
State and federal laws regulate what owners of residential and commercial property can and can not do with their property such as environmental restrictions, noise levels, occupancy levels and building restrictions. Only a lawyer can properly protect you and your property rights.

The experienced real estate lawyers at Addabbo & Greenberg will help you understand the terms and concepts of real estate. Here is a sample of some common terms and their meaning.

Appraisal: Real estate values fluctuate. An appraisal, performed by a disinterested third party, helps buyers, sellers and lenders determine the value of the property in the present time. An appraisal compares recent sale prices of similar properties in close proximity to come up with the value of your property. An appraisal compares recent sale prices of similar properties in close proximity together with other factors to estimate the value of your property.

Agents and Brokers: A Broker is a licensed person or organization that represents either the buyer or seller. An Agent is a licensed representative who works for a Broker. The broker/agent is ordinarily engaged by the seller. However, there are buyer brokers available.

Closing: At the closing, title to the property is passed from seller to buyer. If there is a mortgage, those documents are finalized at closing. This is the last stage in a real estate transaction and some times referred to as “settlement”.

Deed: A deed is a document that verifies ownership of real property.

Foreclosure: When a borrower defaults on a real property loan the lender may begin a process of foreclosure, which allows the lender to recoup its investment by taking ownership of the real property. Foreclosure proceedings vary by state and can often been delayed or prevented with the right counsel.

Mortgage loan: A mortgage loan is a loan secured by real estate.

Survey: A survey is a drawing of land boundaries, improvements and easements on real property.

Title Insurance and Title Opinions: Title insurance protects the buyer and insures legal title to the property being purchased in accordance with the terms of the policy. A title opinion is issued by a lawyer regarding the current condition of title to the property. Both help protect buyers.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this web site should not be construed as legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.