Residential Real Estate Lawyers in St. Petersburg
Serving You and The State of Florida
Buying or Selling a Home is One of the Biggest Stressors in Life
That is why the Lopez Law Group is here to guide you through all of your residential real estate needs. We know that complex laws regulate the real estate market, but our professional St. Petersburg real estate attorney team stays on top of changing laws to ensure they are prepared to assist you with all your residential real estate needs.
Whether you are searching for your next dream home or hoping to sell your current home before a big move, it is a stressful time in your life. Once you have found the home you want, or have a buyer for your current home, the last thing you want to encounter are legal issues that can slow or even derail the deal.
The Reason You Need a St. Petersburg Florida Residential Real Estate Lawyer
The most crucial step in purchasing or selling a home is the contract. It is essential that you have a legal professional evaluate the contract to make sure there are no unexpected “surprise” clauses. Real estate is a major asset, and the paperwork deserves attention. Before signing the contract, there are important considerations, such as:
- Is the purchase contingent on matters like financing or acceptable terms of the sale?
- When can the buyer take possession?
- 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?
- Who is paying for the title examination?
- If it is a new construction, have all utilities been installed?
- What inspections are required by the municipality, and have they been completed?
When you buy a home, you will, at some point during the process, need to get the property inspected. Inspections involve hiring a residential real estate inspector to come in and do a full inspection of the property. The inspector is typically hired by the buyer to thoroughly inspect the property to make sure everything is in accordance with state and local codes.
There are typically two types of inspections used in residential real estate transactions
- Buyers inspection—This is the inspection paid for by the person who is purchasing the home. It is meant to ensure that the property is free of all hazards and in the condition claimed by the seller. The inspector you hire will likely take a few hours to go over everything in the home. You can be present during this home inspection, and the inspector should show you the deficiencies in the property. The inspector should go over both the interior and the exterior of the home and alert you to any safety issues. The most common things that the inspectors look for are related to the following:
- Damage from water issues
- Issues related to roof damage
- Structural defects or areas of concern
- Problems with the electrical system
- Signs of pest control issues
- Issues related to the air conditioning and heating systems
- Seller’s inspection—The seller’s inspection is the examination the seller can have done before the house is put on the market to make sure the house is in proper working order before listing the home. Any issues discovered during this inspection enable the seller to remedy the issues before the home is placed on the market.
Negotiation of the Purchase Agreement
Buying a new home is an exciting time in your life, and you want to make sure you are getting the best deal possible. You may also have questions about the sale agreement itself and the terms contained therein. Understanding the Purchase Agreement, in full, is crucial to being able to negotiate and feel confident that you understand the document BEFORE you sign it.
It is crucial that you understand which terms of the agreement are negotiable. As a buyer, you will also need to ensure that you understand what your obligations are once you sign the agreement. It is easy to become excited about finding a home you love and get carried away in wanting to move quickly. A real estate agent (who stands to earn a commission from the sale) may even encourage you to “act quickly before it is gone.”
Though we understand the excitement of finding the home of your dreams, it is essential that you understand what is in the purchase agreement before signing it. The purchase agreement should also include a seller’s disclosure statement, which lists any known defects or problems with the house. Understanding the disclosure statement, and how any issues in it can be addressed, is an important step. Many of these are negotiable, and knowing what can and cannot be negotiated is extremely important when it comes to the purchase of a property.
Does the purchase agreement contain a mortgage contingency? If so, know that it means the sale can only happen if certain conditions are met. Knowing your obligations and what needs to be done is crucial to making a sound decision about one of your most important assets. Understanding the purchase agreement also improves the chances of seeing the sale move through closing.
Title Search and Insurance
The Lopez Law Group can assist you with title searches and title insurance. When you purchase a property, you always want to make sure the property is free and clear of any title defects. Having an attorney look into any title issues instead of a title insurance company will ensure that if any defects of title do show up, they can be handled quickly.
If a title insurance company discovered a defect, they would then have to bring on an attorney to clear the title issue. This can slow the process of clearing the title and moving toward closing significantly. Having an attorney do the work from the beginning will ensure that any title issues are cleared up in time for the original closing date when at all possible.
Title insurance will need to be, which will guarantee that if anyone makes a claim to the property in the future, you will be protected and will not need to defend against that claim. The title insurance company will step in and settle the claim on your behalf.
If you are a landlord or a tenant, having an attorney look over the documents that you are signing before the start of a lease is very important. Lease agreements often contain language and terms that can be difficult for a layperson to understand.
Lease agreements stipulate the lease period, who is responsible for damages, and the notice requirements if either party breaks the lease. As a landlord, the last thing you want is to have a tenant sign a lease that is not up to the current legal standard. You could then find yourself on the losing end of a potential claim against you if you do not take steps to make sure the language is concrete.
As a tenant, make sure that you understand going into the lease what your duties are. Understanding what damages you can be held liable for versus what is considered normal wear and tear is crucial. The lease agreement should spell out, explicitly, when you will be entitled to get your security deposit back.
Living in a home, apartment, or condo can cause normal wear and tear on flooring, walls, and appliances. Damages that constitute normal wear and tear do not entitle a landlord to retain your security deposit, though some will often try. There are steps you can take, before vacating a property, to ensure you get your security deposit back. Some suggestions for your protection:
- Do a thorough move-in inspection and take photos. Make sure you note and photograph any existing damage to the property before you ever move in.
- Make sure you comply with the terms of the lease in giving notice of your move-out date, preferably in writing.
- Clean the rental property thoroughly.
- Take date-stamped pictures of the property before you leave, including any damage you might have caused. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it helps prevent the landlord from overcharging you for any repairs that need to be done.
As a tenant, make sure you understand going into a lease what your duties and responsibilities. Knowing what you will be responsible for in damages and knowing when you will be entitled to getting your security deposit back are extremely important.
The attorneys here at The Lopez Law Group can help both tenants and landlords with any issues that arise from the rental of a property. We can draft documents for landlords to give to tenants, and we can review documents that tenants may need to sign to ensure they are legal and contain the necessary provisions for the protection of the tenant.
Closings in Florida
The Lopez Law Group handles various types of real estate closings, including those for residential properties. As attorneys who assist with closings, we can coordinate with all parties involved to make sure the sale goes smoothly. We will communicate with lenders, buyers, and seller to make sure that all documentation and schedules are in order. We will help or handle communication with brokers, surveyors, insurance companies, inspectors, appraisers, tax departments, contractors for the property, and HOA boards.
The coordination will lead to a timely transaction and one that you can feel comfortable signing. We will review all of the documents with you on the day of the closing to make sure that all the information is correct and answer any questions you may have related to:
- Deeds of Trust
- Settlement Statements
Once the closing is complete, we will also handle the disbursement of the money to all appropriate parties.
We have an extensive list of real estate services to make sure we are prepared to handle all of your real estate needs. Having your documentation reviewed by professional counsel can help guide you in the informed decision-making process. Consulting with an attorney can mean the difference between being stuck with a money pit or living in your dream home.
Our initial goal is always to understand your needs. By making sure we understand your needs, we can offer a customized set of services to make your residential real estate process as smooth and painless as possible. Our firm has years of experience in Florida real estate law and serves the Tampa Bay market. Whether you need a simple piece of advice, document review, or representation in court, we are here for you.
We offer world-class legal support in the following areas:
- Purchase and sale contract reviews
- Contract litigation
- Lease disputes
- Inspection issues
- Foreclosure mortgages
- Planning hearings
- And more
The Lopez Law Group—Serving all Your Florida Real Estate Needs
WE are here to work for you! At the Lopez Law Group, we pride ourselves on client satisfaction, and our client’s needs always come first. You can rest assured that we will work diligently on your behalf and make sure you are getting the best deal possible.
Whether you need assistance with the sale or purchase of a home, or you are a landlord or tenant and want to make sure your rights are protected, our St. Petersburg residential real estate attorneys are here to assist. Give us a call at (727) 933-0015. We can speak with you about the matter and give our honest opinion about whether or not we can help.
The real estate market is never something to gamble with. Let us help bring you peace of mind that the process is done right. Contact us today for a consultation and a plan that suits you best.
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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!