What is a Real Estate lawyer?
Your real estate lawyer is you advocate and your ally. They protect you from falling into any unseen legal traps. They make sure your rights are protected and your duties are clearly defined in the transaction by drafting and reviewing relevant documents, negotiating on your behalf, and helping resolve the many issues that may arise with such things as title insurance, the environment, inspections, or appraisals. When things go wrong, they will represent you in court or in a foreclosure. Think of your real estate attorney as your guardian angel for real estate.
Do I need an attorney to review my purchase contract if I have a realtor?
Realtors are permitted to draft contracts in Arizona, and they use a form approved by the Arizona Association of Realtors. Every transaction is unique and the form should be customized to your needs. The form states that the Realtor is not liable. It is recommended to have a lawyer review and revise, if necessary, the contract to make sure it meets your needs and to make sure you understand all of your rights and responsibilities. The job of the lawyer is to protect you legally.
What type of real estate do you handle?
I represent clients in residential, commercial and land transactions. I represent buyers and sellers as well as landlords and tenants. If the case is one that I do not handle, I will help you find an attorney that does.
How much do you charge?
Like most lawyers, it depends. There are times when I get paid by others in the transaction. If that is not an option, my rate is $270 an hour. I have a paralegal that is billed at $100 per hour, and that saves money in fees because I can delegate some of the work to her. I charge a flat fee for some things because they are more standardized. The most costly fees come as the result of litigation. My consultation fee is $260. At the consultation, we discuss future fees, including a payment plan if needed.
What is the difference between the lien and the debt?
If you get a loan when you purchase property, you will sign a Promissory Note and a Deed of Trust. The Note is the contract between you and your lender that you agree to repay the money they loaned you to buy the house. The Deed of Trust is a document that is recorded and gives notice that the property was put up as collateral for the loan. The purpose of the Deed of Trust is to notify future buyers that there is money owed and they cannot get clear title until it paid back. Once the loan is paid in full, the Deed of Trust is released. Note that if the debt is discharged in bankruptcy, the lien is still place and you cannot sell the property until the lender agrees to release the lien.
What if my lender does not get my loan documents to title in time for closing?
Your lender is not a party to your real estate purchase contract which means that you lender has no liability if you incur damages as a result of late delivery of your documents. Standard residential purchase contracts allow for a Cure Period which begins when a Cure Notice is sent. If your contract has this term, you are permitted three days to cure any default, which would include your loan documents. The Cure Period applies to buyer and seller. If there are other allegations of default, the three day period applies to those as well.
Can I use the same realtor as the seller or should I get my own?
It is legal to use the same realtor, but strongly discouraged. This is called dual agency. The reason is that your interests as buyer are not the same as the seller’s interests and being represented by the same realtor creates a conflict of interest. It does not cost any more money to be represented by your own realtor since the seller pays the commission almost all of the time. There may be important information that is not disclosed to you and an agent that works only for you can help obtain that.
What is a Beneficiary Deed?
If you own real estate and you want to leave it to someone when you die, one way to accomplish this is by executing a Beneficiary Deed. This is a deed that is signed and recorded while you are alive but does not become legally effective until your death
My home foreclosed and my lender is suing me. What should I do?
Arizona has anti deficiency laws that protect you in certain situations. You will probably need to consult with an attorney. Do not let the lender get a default judgment against you. It is important to respond to the lawsuit. You may have a defense for all or part of the amount the lender alleges you owe them. If you do owe money, filing a response will give you time to negotiate a settlement.
I sold my home in a short sale and my lender has reported it as a foreclosure to the credit bureaus. Is there anything I can do?
Yes, you can dispute the incorrect information by filing a dispute with the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus will contact your lender to get the correct information. You will need to send proof of the short sale, but the approval letter and HUD 1 settlement statement from the title company should be sufficient.
I own my home free and clear. Can I sell it and carry the mortgage?
Yes, as long as you comply with the Dodd Frank law. This is a federal law that puts certain limitations on the type of loan you can carry and how many loans you can carry in a specific period of time. The law makes a distinction between a home owned personally and one titled in an LLC so be sure to know the rules before you enter into this type of transaction.
My spouse was a real estate investor and he died suddenly. I don’t know what to do
with all the real estate he owned.
You need a real estate attorney to help you sort things out. The attorney can help you decide which properties to sell, which to keep, which have tenants, etc. There is a lot of information that must be gathered regarding mortgages, leases, etc, Once you have this information, the attorney can help you come up with a plan to sell and/or manage the properties.
My husband got the house in our divorce settlement. Does that mean I am free of that debt?
Not necessarily. If your name is on the mortgage, you are equally responsible for the payments. If he stops making the payments, the lender will contact you to make the payments and your credit will be damaged. An attorney can help you avoid this trap.
Laura B. Bramnick’s service coverage extends to all of the following Arizona Cities, Towns and Municipalities: Scottsdale; Phoenix, Mesa, Bullhead City, Flagstaff, Glendale, Fountain Hills, Glendale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Goodyear, Lakeside, Paradise Valley, Payson, Prescott, Peoria, Pinetop, Sedona, Tucson; Maricopa County, Pinal County; Arizona.