St. Petersburg Real Estate Attorneys
Serving You and The State of Florida
There are few things that are more exciting – or more stressful – than buying or selling a home. For most people, a house is the biggest purchase that they will ever make. These transactions are often complicated, involving a web of laws and regulations that must be followed to successfully close the sale.
The best way to ensure a smooth process is to work with an experienced St. Petersburg residential real estate attorney. Your lawyer can handle every aspect of the transaction, from negotiating a purchase agreement to performing the title search to consulting experts to handling the closing. Throughout the process, they will advocate for your best interests and ensure that your legal rights are protected.
At the Lopez Law Group, we are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the best possible outcome for their real estate deal. We represent buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants in a range of real estate matters. To learn more, give our law office a call to schedule a case review with a member of our team.
Do I Need a St. Petersburg Real Estate Lawyer?
In Florida, you are not required to hire an attorney to represent you in a real estate transaction. However, there are a number of benefits to working with an experienced residential real estate attorney in St. Petersburg.
Real estate transactions are governed by a purchase/sale contract. With very few exceptions, once you sign a contract, you are bound to its terms. This agreement covers all aspects of the deal, including the price, important deadlines, covenants or restrictions, disclosure of easements, acknowledgment of any defects, and distribution of liability for such defects.
Your real estate agent is probably familiar with many terms contained in the purchase/sale contract. However, they are prohibited from giving legal advice about the contract. In Florida, only licensed attorneys can review and explain contracts and offer advice about your responsibilities and liabilities under the terms of the contract.
Realtors also have a financial stake in the sale proceeding. While your realtor has a duty to deal honestly and fairly with clients, they work on commission. By contrast, an attorney is legally obligated to advocate for your best interests.
Purchase/sale contracts are often straightforward, but they may contain hidden pitfalls. For example, a contract may specify that the seller is providing a fee simple deed – which provides no protection for the buyer. Without the advice of an experienced St. Petersburg residential real estate lawyer, you may not fully understand exactly what you are signing and how it will affect you.
A purchase/sale contract should be reviewed before you sign it. Remember: this might be the largest and most important purchase you ever make. It makes sense to have an attorney analyze the contract for things such as:
- Does the agreement list the correct address, legal description, and/or parcel identification number?
- Are the boundary lines properly specified?
- Is the purchase contingent on matters like financing or acceptable terms of the sale?
- When can the buyer take possession?
- If the buyer can take possession on a date other than the closing, is there an Occupancy Agreement in place?
- What payments are due under the contract?
- What land, furnishings, and buildings come with the offer?
- Are appliances and fixtures (which can be costly to replace) included in the price of the home?
- Is the seller furnishing a good, marketable title?
- Who is paying for the title examination to ensure that there is not a “cloud” on the title?
- What type of deed will be provided?
- If it is new construction, have all utilities been installed?
- Are there any zoning restrictions on the use of the property?
- What inspections are required by the municipality, and have they been completed?
- What are the remedies if the buyer or seller defaults on the contract?
- How long will the buyer have to inspect the property?
These are just some of the issues that a lawyer will consider when reviewing your purchase/sale agreement. They can also advise and assist you with other aspects of the process, including a title search and insurance, and the closing.
Title Search and Insurance
Before closing, it is necessary to perform a title examination, which is a search of public records related to a parcel of real estate. This search ensures that there are not any defects or “clouds” on the title that can affect your ownership of the property. For example, if a previous owner has an outstanding mortgage that was never cleared from the title, it can make it difficult for you to obtain financing or sell the property in the future.
While many people choose to work with a title insurance company, there are advantages to hiring a St. Petersburg residential real estate attorney. A title examination requires more than simply searching public records. It also involves the interpretation of deeds, mortgages, wills, court decrees, and applying the law to various situations that may arise.
If a title insurance company discovers a defect in the property title, then they will need to bring on a lawyer to clear the title. This can slow down the process and delay closing. When your residential real estate lawyer performs the title examination, they will be able to clear up any clouds on the title without delay, keeping you on track for your original closing date whenever possible.
A title search is typically supplemented by title insurance, which protects you against financial loss and the cost of defending the title in court. Like other insurance policies, title insurance is a type of contract. A skilled real estate attorney can advise you as to the extent of coverage and whether the title insurance you have purchased will truly protect you in the event that someone makes a claim to the property in the future.
The final step of the process in any type of real estate transaction is the closing. Closings are technical, complex procedures. As an initial matter, the necessary documents must be carefully drafted to reflect the intent of the parties. The parties must also satisfy the technical title requirements and comply with all relevant federal and state laws, such as the Truth in Lending Act.
A closing attorney should be present at the closing to represent your interests and ensure that the process is properly completed. Our law firm will review all legal documents and answer any questions that you may have related to:
- Deeds of Trust
- Settlement Statements
We will also coordinate with all interested parties, including lenders, buyers, and sellers, to make sure that all documentation is in order and that the closing can move forward as scheduled. We will also communicate with brokers, surveyors, insurance companies, inspectors, appraisers, tax departments, contractors for the property, and HOA boards on your behalf. Once the closing is complete, we will also handle the disbursement of the money to all appropriate parties.
In addition to assisting with the purchase and sale of residential real estate, our attorneys also work with landlords and tenants on leases and other legal documents related to rentals. Like purchase/sale agreements, a lease is a type of contract. It is vital that you understand the language and terms of a lease before signing it.
A typical lease will stipulate the lease period, which party is responsible for damages, and notice requirements for breaking the lease. For landlords, it is important that your lease complies with current Florida law. Otherwise, you may lose in court if a tenant makes a claim against you – even if you were otherwise in the right.
For tenants, it is important to know your responsibilities under a lease along with your landlord’s duties. The lease agreement should explicitly state the difference between normal wear and tear and damage to the home, along with when you will get your security deposit back after vacating.
Before you decide to rent one of your properties – or sign a lease for a home – give our law office a call to talk to a St. Petersburg landlord tenant attorney. We can draft lease agreements, review a lease before you sign it, and advise you of your rights and obligations under Florida law.
How Our St. Petersburg Residential Real Estate Attorneys Can Help
Whether you are in the initial stages of selling or buying a home or are ready to make an offer, it’s a good idea to get a seasoned St. Petersburg residential real estate lawyer on board to assist. An attorney can review all legal documents, explain your rights, advise you on the best course of action, perform a title search, and handle all communications on your behalf.
At the Lopez Law Group, we help clients with all types of residential real estate matters, including:
- Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs)
- Purchase and sale contract reviews
- Contract litigation
- Lease disputes
- Inspection issues
- Foreclosure mortgages
- Planning hearings
Our goal for each transaction is to protect our clients’ rights and advance their interests. We will listen closely to you to better understand your goals and any concerns that you may have. Using our experience and knowledge of Florida law, we will advocate for you throughout the process, from making or accepting an offer to the final closing.
We offer initial consultations to all prospective clients. If you choose to hire our law firm, we will work collaboratively with you, keeping open lines of communication so that you always know what is going on with your deal. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help.
Will I Need an Inspection Before Buying or Selling a Home in St. Petersburg, Florida?
Yes. If you are financing any part of your home’s purchase, the bank will typically require an inspection to ensure that the property is free from all hazards and is in the condition claimed by the seller. The home inspection may also reveal defects that may result in a credit or a request that the seller repair the issue.
Sellers may also pay for an inspection shortly before putting the house on the market. This type of inspection can identify any potential problems that may affect the sale of the house. To learn more, contact the Lopez Law Group to talk to a St. Petersburg residential real estate lawyer.
Do I Need to Get a Survey of My Property?
A survey of real property confirms a property’s boundary lines and legal descriptions. It also determines any easements or restrictions on the property. Generally, if you are financing your home, your lender will require you to obtain a survey.
If you are paying cash for a property, then you can choose whether or not you want a survey. It is often a good idea to have a survey done, particularly if you are buying a house that is not in a subdivision. Reach out to the Lopez Law Group for more information about these and other aspects of the home buying process.
Want to Learn More? Give Us a Call Today.
Whether you are buying, selling, renting, or leasing a home, it is critical to understand your rights and obligations before you sign a legally-binding contract. Our skilled residential real estate attorneys in St. Petersburg can help. We also offer commercial real estate legal services for companies and developers.
The Lopez Law Group is a client-centered legal practice that works hard to help our clients get the best possible outcome for their case. To learn more or to schedule an initial consultation with a residential real estate lawyer in St. Petersburg, give us a call at 727-933-0015 or fill out our online contact form.
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What Our Clients Say
Mr. Lopez was a Godsend and really helped me with my situation. Him and the entire firm were very diligent and helped speed the early stages of the process along due to a pressing situation. Throughout my experience working with the firm, they were always responsive and available any time I had a question or wanted to check on the state of affairs. Hopefully I won’t have to recommend Lopez Law Group to my friends or family, but if those unfortunate circumstances arise then there’s only one name I would trust. Thank you again for all your help!
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