For more than 20 years, Alan B. Taylor and Associates has provided consultation and legal representation, as a top rated real estate lawyer in the Orlando and Central Florida area.
The decision to purchase or to sell U.S. real estate, whether as your residence, as a vacation or holiday home, or as an income producing rental property, is for most of us, one of the most important financial and personal decisions we can make. This is especially so for those who look to the investment with the view of enhancing the quality of their personal lives and financial health. Of equal importance is the selection of the right attorney to assist in this process because acquiring or selling real estate involves much more than finding the right investment.
The firm of Alan B. Taylor & Associates, P.A. has over 20 years of experience in working with real estate clients of a wide variety to include condominium, subdivision, and commercial project developers, as well as individuals who desire to sell or purchase residential, income producing, or commercial properties. Our clients are not only from the United States, but also hail from the United Kingdom, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Hong Kong, China, Korea, and the Philippines, among other countries.
Orlando Residential and Commercial Real Estate Attorney
There are a number of very important considerations that may not be apparent, or are otherwise paid little attention to in the desire for the interested parties to close the deal. These considerations may include:
- The Purchase and Sale Contract: Under Florida law, if you sign an otherwise binding contract, you are generally held to its terms, even if you did not read it carefully or did not obtain legal advice from a competent real estate attorney before doing so. If the contract terms turn out not to be the best bargain you had expected, you may very well be stuck with those terms or risk legal action. It is, therefore, very important to have legal counsel either draft the contract or otherwise review and explain it to you before signing. An Orlando real estate attorney may also assist in negotiating the contract and making selective revisions to any proposed contract.
- Physical Conditions: The overall physical condition of the property and the improvements located on it is usually the most looked at issue by buyers. But, having the proper tools at your disposal to ensure, whether you are the buyer or the seller, that you are protected on this issue within the contract documents, cannot be ignored. For example, the hiring of a competent inspector to examine the property and issue a report as to its conditions should be considered before signing the contract, and for buyers, a satisfactory inspection should be a condition in the contract to bind the buyer to go forward and close on the deal.
- Termites: Florida has termites. These insects can cost property owners thousands of dollars for both repairs and for pest remediation treatment. Considering the risk, it is well worth the effort to have a competent termite inspection performed as yet another condition in the contract to bind the buyer to close on the deal. In addition, the seller and the buyer should consider the assignment of a termite bond, if the seller has one, to the buyer as a part of the contract. Alternatively, the buyer should consider acquiring a termite bond from a reputable pest control company if the seller does not have one. A termite bond is just one tool that may help alleviate the financial risks associated with termites.
- Surveys: A discussion with legal counsel as to whether a survey of the property boundaries and structures should be performed is a wise course of action. A professional survey may reveal encroachments or problems impacting the value and marketability of the real estate at issue. For example, a fence, patio, or other structure may be discovered to encroach on the real estate you are buying or selling, or may encroach on your neighbor's land or into a set-back area. This could result in litigation to remove the structure, which could be very costly.
- Homeowners' and Condominium Association Governing Documents: These documents are a must to review as these documents impose certain restrictions and requirements over the lands that are subject to them. Sometimes called covenants and restrictions, these covenants and restrictions typically run with the land, meaning that they bind the land regardless of how many times a property is sold or conveyed in the chain of title. These documents are recorded in a central location in each Florida County, called the Public Records. As an example, these governing documents may prohibit or restrict certain activities or uses associated with the Orlando real estate that may otherwise be perfectly legal in the absence of such restrictions. Some examples are restrictions on constructing improvements, restrictions on certain activities such as rental restrictions, the types of vehicles that may be parked within the community where the real estate is located, or what color you may paint a structure. In addition, many communities governed by these documents have a mandatory membership community association, which is charged with enforcing the rules set forth in these governing documents and maintaining the common and recreational amenities, if any, in these communities. The associations also are responsible for and given the power to levy assessments that are the responsibility of the property owners to timely pay to the association. Assessments are typically used for expenses related to common area maintenance and other operating expenses of the association. The failure to pay these assessments can result in a lien against your property and its judicial foreclosure by the association. A comprehensive review of these important documents by an Orlando real estate attorney prior to entering into any contract is recommended. While there is great debate over the powers of the association by segments in the State of Florida, a well-run association is generally helpful in preserving property values in any community.
- Zoning and Other Title Issues; Title Insurance: Zoning laws vary from location to location. For example, some areas are designated strictly residential. Others are designated for commercial purposes. Some locations allow for short-term rentals, and others do not. It is, therefore, important to think about what you intend to use your property for before signing a binding contract and to check with your local governmental authorities on the relevant zoning classifications for the property. In addition, it is also important to examine the title history of the property to see if there are any title defects that may be a cloud on the marketable title to the real estate. For example, there may be a deed in the chain of title signed by a beneficiary in the will of a prior owner who died, but no probate of that will approving the transfer was ever filed. There may be other chain of title issues to consider. For example, there may be an easement that a prior owner had granted to another property owner that allows that owner or that owner's guests and invitees to access through the property. In this respect, an examination of the title history to the real estate should be made by an Orlando real estate attorney and, in addition, owner's title insurance should be procured. Owner's title insurance covers losses, up to the purchase price for the property, if any covered title defect later becomes apparent. Title insurance is a must for anyone who is buying real estate.
- Property and Rental Management Services: For those who desire to hire a management company to look after their real estate and to handle the renting and tenant issues, there are many such operators in Florida. Finding a reputable, licensed management company, and negotiating a favorable contract with them is also an important process to consider. One should not agree to be locked into a long-term management contract with a property manager that is not trustworthy or performing to expectations. Having the ability to cancel a management contract for good, bad, or no reason, by providing advance notice of, for example, 30 days, provides the property owner with needed flexibility. An Orlando real estate attorney should be consulted before signing a property management contract.
- Escrow Deposits and Closing Documentation: Closings can now take place without the buyer and seller being physically present, due to email and other content delivery services. In any event, having all closing documentation reviewed and approved by a competent Orlando real estate lawyer is an important consideration, especially for those who may not be from Florida or otherwise lack relevant experience with the law and customs here in Florida.
- Mortgage Financing: In some instances, a buyer may want to consider financing all or part of the purchase price. Coordinating the closings on the loan and purchase transactions and reviewing the terms of the loan documents by your legal counsel should also be a consideration for any buyer.
- Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA): FIRPTA is a Federal law that may apply when someone is purchasing real estate in the United States from a foreign owner. Individual investors from all over the world are actively buying and selling real estate in the United States. If you are buying U.S. real estate from a foreign owner, there are several things you need to be aware of. FIRPTA is an acronym for The Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980. This legislation may apply to your purchase. FIRPTA is a federally imposed tax law that requires U.S. income tax be paid on real estate being sold by non-US citizens. To be in compliance with FIRPTA, you are required to file within 20 days of the closing on the sale, IRS Form 8288. When submitting the form, 10% of the total purchase price must be included as payment to the IRS. If you are not familiar with this law and it applies to your real estate transaction, you may be levied penalties in addition to the ten percent owed. Although there are a few exceptions, in general, it is important to be familiar with FIRPTA and to consult with appropriate legal or tax professionals to ensure compliance. As an Orlando real estate attorney who has provided legal representation for both foreign and domestic investors, Alan B. Taylor has extensive experience in this area.
- Other Issues: Enumerable other issues may need to be discussed with a competent attorney. For example, how to structure the ownership of your real estate in a manner that best suits your needs, to include survivorship upon death, joint ownership structures, and entity formation and titling, such as through the use of a Trust, Limited Liability Company, or other corporate ownership options. A competent real estate lawyer familiar with Florida real estate law may be able to provide you with a whole host of options best suited to your unique circumstances.
Alan B. Taylor & Associates � Dedicated Orlando Real Estate Attorneys
In conclusion, Alan B. Taylor & Associates, P.A., through Alan B. Taylor, will personally handle your matters as you wish, whether you are an individual, family, or corporate concern that desires the engagement to be limited to review and legal advice as to one document or transaction, or to the development, acquisition, or sale of an entire community. At Alan B. Taylor & Associates, P.A., we take a special interest in ensuring that personal, quality legal representation is given to the client, taking into account the client's unique circumstances and long-term goals. For those clients who hail from out of state or from overseas, we take special interest in guiding you through the way things work in terms of Orlando and Central Florida real estate law, as we know that coming here from a distant land to invest can be an uncertain and, at times, difficult experience. Feel free to contact us for information regarding our qualifications and experience as we are on your side.