Real estate law refers to the body of laws that govern the buying, selling and leasing of property.
These laws cover a wide range of legal issues related to real estate transactions, including financing transactions, environmental law and title searches. Real estate laws and regulations vary from state to state, with some requiring a real estate license to buy or sell property. Attorneys in real estate law can help with issues that a real estate agent can’t.
Hiring a real estate lawyer or real estate law attorney can be essential for navigating the legal complexities of a home purchase or sale. Law firms specializing in real estate law can assist with legal issues related to real estate transactions, such as reviewing contracts and conducting title searches.
Real estate lawyers or attorneys are also typically involved in representing clients before the real estate commission or title company. Law school courses often cover real estate law, as it is an essential aspect of many legal practices. A full-service real estate law firm should have expertise in these areas:
Sales and Acquisitions
The representation of buyers and sellers in the acquisition and disposition of the various kinds of real estate including office buildings, retail centers, hotels, industrial properties, residential properties and manufactured housing communities.
Real estate attorneys can be equally essential whether the transaction is for residential or commercial property.
The examination of title to real estate, evaluation of title exceptions and negotiation of title insurance policies.
Land Use and Environmental
Land use entitlements, due diligence investigations, Brownfield developments and compliance with Environmental Laws and federal and state Endangered Species Acts.
The negotiation and preparation of development and construction agreements and the other documents required to develop and construct office buildings, shopping centers, mixed-use projects, free-standing units and industrial sites.
The negotiation and preparation of office, retail and industrial leases and long-term ground leases. A real estate lawyer may assist with:
- Drafting and reviewing lease agreements.
- Negotiating lease terms.
- Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations.
- Dispute resolution.
- Lease modifications and renewals.
- Handling lease terminations and evictions.
- Advising on subleasing and assignment.
The representation of lenders and borrowers in real estate secured loan originations, loan sales and purchases and other debt arrangements, including:
- Permanent financings.
- Construction loans.
- Bridge loans.
- Conduit loans.
- Mezzanine loans.
- Shared appreciation loans.
- Portfolios of non-performing loans.
A very large proportion of real estate transactions involve joint ventures between capital sources and developers. Therefore, a real estate firm must be in a position to structure and negotiate partnership agreements, limited liability company operating agreements, shareholder agreements and other forms of joint venture arrangements and advise on the tax aspects of the transactions.
Restructuring and Workouts
Not all real estate transactions are successful. Real estate lawyers, therefore, must be in a position to advise lenders, borrowers, partners, landlords, tenants and developers when a transaction goes bad.
This type of real estate law may involve transactional, bankruptcy, tax and litigation work. Restructuring and workouts often include:
- Loan modifications.
- Deeds in lieu of foreclosure.
- Discounted loan payoffs.
- Loan forbearances.
- REO sales.
- Joint venture modifications.
- Forced sales.
- Lease and development modifications.
- Receivership actions.
- Guarantee actions.
Litigation in the real estate area involves the representations of real estate owners, buyers, sellers, lessors, brokers, lenders, and developers in, among other things:
- Contract disputes.
- Mechanics lien and construction disputes.
- Eminent domain proceedings.
- Title disputes.
- Loan service.
- Foreclosure issues.