Real estate – especially in south Florida offers a wide variety of options – from high-rise condos to townhouses & single and multi-family options, many of which have boat access through canals that lead to the ocean. The Sunshine State’s real estate, once quite affordable compared to most parts of the U.S., has recently become a hot commodity. The demand for real estate includes families who prefer outdoor lifestyles, downsizing retirees, and investors (both from the U.S. and other international locations) seizing the returns generated by an appreciating market.
For most, buying a home, vacation condo, or property is one of the most important and largest financial transactions of their lives. And, regardless of their location when buying, the real estate deal will be controlled by Florida law, which may include defined legal boundaries and local customs unique to Florida.
As such, if you plan to buy (or sell) property in Florida, hiring an experienced real estate attorney offers you important protections and a path to a real estate closing that goes off without a hitch. Real estate lawyers are legally authorized to prepare & review various but essential documents (like contracts, etc.) which have legal consequences if misread or mishandled.
Florida real estate law applies the purchase and sale of any real property, inclusive of the land and its structures and appurtenances. Real estate law can be complex and lead to a host of potential conflicts and real estate disputes, as follows –
General Real Estate Disputes
Florida’s real estate marketplace has been rocked by scandals since Henry Flagler had the foresight to develop a railroad straight through to Key West’s deepwater port. Real estate disputes manifest in many forms that include, in part, mortgage fraud, like robo-signing of mortgage documents.
Real estate agent behaviors may also lead to real estate legal matters as real estate licensees are mandated, by license law, to be their client’s fiduciary, which requires certain ethical and moral choices. Additionally, Mold Issues may become legal matters if the seller or their rep misrepresented (or hid) their knowledge of mold in the property.
Florida Real Estate Closings – The Legal Transfer of Title
Real estate closings typically involve enormous amounts of paperwork with important legal implications. Documents included in a purchase transaction include, in part, contracts, title insurance & title defects, easements & encroachments, outstanding liens, disclosures, financial analyses, occupancy agreements, as well as legal paperwork related to condominium ownership, if applicable.
Whether it is your first closing or you are an experienced investor, a skilled Plantation FL real estate lawyer has the ability and available legal maneuvers to protect your legal interests and preserve your real estate investment.
Partition Lawsuits – Actions That Divide Real Property Jointly Owned
A partition lawsuit is when one property owner sues other owners (s) -seeking a partition action as a means to resolve their ownership conflicts or differences. Chapter 64 (Partition of Property) of the Florida Civil Practice and Procedures Code sets forth the provisions and guides legislated by the state’s lawmakers. For the most part, Chapter 64 is not impacted by the homestead laws in Florida.
The term “Title” references a collective ownership that includes transfers of real property rights and a right to control and convey real property.
Florida Law (FL Stat. § 624.608) defines, in part, title insurance is provided to property owners (or any other party with a lien, encumbrance, or contractual interest) to protect against potential losses derived by an adverse claim to the title, encumbrance or title defect.
Title Insurance offers important protection for owners (and lenders) against defects reflected in the ownership or ‘chain of title’ of real property, considering the potential magnitude of a loss.
Quiet Title Lawsuits
One’s title is the recorded proof of legal ownership. The integrity of the title is essential and may create potential issues when trying to sell or divide current land. A Quiet Title lawsuit (set forth by guides found in FL Stat. Chapter 65 – Quieting Title) removes liens, deeds, or other interests which may appear on the title to real property.
Mortgage Foreclosure Defense Options in Florida
In the Sunshine State, foreclosures are judicial, which means that the lending institution must file a foreclosure claim with the court. Borrowers are given a chance to stop the foreclosure action using several resources if they are being sued by someone else (be it a person or lender – or an authorized representative) with a valid interest or ownership claim. Options include –
- Notice of Default Provision Requirements Have Not Been Met
- Lack of Standing
- The foreclosing plaintiff’s actions are inequitable (i.e., consisting of fraud, bad faith, or deceit, among others) as defined by the Unclean Hands Doctrine
This process offers borrowers who are struggling to make payments (or already in arrears) the opportunity to stop a foreclosure process by modifying (and often reducing) the mortgage payments. Loan modifications are challenging to negotiate, which is why it is prudent to have the help of an experienced real estate attorney.
Short Sale Counseling
If you are asking a lender to be agreeable to a short sale, you are asking them to accept less than the mortgage balance owed because the home’s value has depreciated, and you can no longer make payments. A short sale is often a smart choice for both lender and owner. However, the homeowner should seek needs legal guidance to be certain the lender has waived its right to collect your deficiency.
Unfortunately, Florida homeowners (and owners across the country) have been victims of foreclosure fraud. Through deceitful actions or flawed documentation, they have illegally lost ownership of their home. There are options available to help compensate victims who have lost their homes unlawfully.
To learn more about the ways an experienced real estate attorney in Plantation FL can help, please contact our real estate office online or give us a call.