What is Real Estate Law? How to Find a Real Estate Lawyer

Real Estate Law

What is Real Estate Law?

Real estate law refers to everything involving land, property ownership, and real property. It also extends to rentals and regulations related to buildings, construction, and properties, and it corresponds to zoning law and local ordinances.

Governing Law

Real estate law is primarily governed by state law. It is both codified and embodied in the case laws of the state in which the real property is located. It doesn’t matter where you live. The controlling law is the jurisdiction in which the real property can be found. It is also one of the few areas of law that requires the assistance of professionals to conclude business in the majority of situations. Real estate agents must go through particular licensing processes, and real estate lawyers and law firms are may be licensed to sell land as well. Additionally, real estate law are supplemented by local ordinances and zoning laws. Other areas of law such as lease agreements and contract law intersect with real estate law. In most states however, personal injury matters only interact with real estate law in so far as the harm occurs during the real estate transaction.

Reasons for Hiring an Attorney

You will need a real estate lawyer whenever you choose to purchase property. It is advisable to hire an attorney when you are renting a property as well. Landlords and real estate agents almost always have access to attorneys to assist them in writing up the agreement. A good lawyer will help you to get a better deal and also protect your rights. For instance, it is not uncommon for the seller to try to shift the burden of loss on to the buyer. It is typically a fine print term, and it means that if something happens to the house in between your agreement to purchase and the closing date such as a fire or flood, you are still obligated to buy the house and will have to pay for the repairs yourself as the buyer.

Things to Look for in a Real Estate Lawyer

In many states, real estate lawyers and law firms can receive further licensing and certification procedures that demonstrate their compliance with state law. You want to make sure that the lawyer whom you hire is qualified to represent you in the jurisdiction of the property you are purchasing. A background in accounting or as a real estate agent is also beneficial because it demonstrates that the attorney has practical experience in this field that can be relevant to your situation

General reputation of the attorney is equally important. Check in particular to make sure that no complaints have been filed regarding improper research techniques or breach of warranties. The most common errors in real estate law typically revolve around a failure to fully research the deed or title. A defect in title may entitle you to action against both the seller and the attorney, but that is a long drawn out legal process that you would do well to avoid.

If you are handling an issue of liability, such as one arising from a landlord refusing to honor your lease or to maintain the building, it is preferable to hire an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant relations. If someone is injured on your property, you will need a personal injury lawyer rather than a real estate lawyer. Real estate law firms typically only handle issues relating to the purchase and sale of land, property, real property as well as the ongoing contractual relationship in a rental agreement. For contractual disputes based on leasing, you will also want to ensure that the attorney has a background in contractual agreements.

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