REAL ESTATE

 

Real estate lawAt Hill & Bondani, PLLC, we understand that purchasing a home or other piece of real property is one of the most important and complicated transactions an individual or entity can undertake.  That is why we are pleased to provide Florida property owners, purchasers, and renters, with a wide variety of transactional real estate services, including title services; drafting and interpreting Florida contracts, deeds, and other documents; facilitating the purchase and sale of real property; disposing of real property as part of a Florida probate proceeding; and obtaining title insurance. Our attorneys understand the intricacies of the local market and are prepared to assist you throughout every step of the transaction.  If you have a real estate issue and are in need of assistance, contact our Ponte Vedra Beach law office to learn more.

 

Below are some common questions relating to real estate law and the real estate process. If you have any more detailed questions, please do not hesitate to contact us to see how we can assist you.

1. Why should I hire a real estate attorney?

Purchasing real estate is an exciting and rewarding event; however it can also be an intricate and confusing process that may involve numerous aspects of the law which can confuse even the most sophisticated of parties. Hiring a real estate attorney is the best way to ensure that you have obtained an advocate who is dedicated solely to your interests and who understands the complex landscape of Florida real estate law.

2. What is title insurance and why would I need it?

When a person purchases real estate, they do so with certain expectations of use and enjoyment.  Many of these expectations are obvious, such as the right to occupy the new property free from any liens or other encumbrances not incurred by the purchaser, but whether they may be assured is not always as clear.  Even the best property title examinations may come up short in the long run, and that is why many purchasers opt for title insurance.

It is the title insurer’s job to run a search of the property records and determine if there are any defects in the chain of title. Many times, small issues will arise which can be corrected before the closing. However, sometimes problems may not present themselves until after the transaction has concluded, and for that reason a title insurance policy may be a sound investment.  The buyer may seek to purchase their own policy, called an owner’s policy, from the insurer, which is usually issued in the face amount of the total real estate purchase (note, this does not include closing costs, points off a mortgage, etc.). An owner’s policy may be purchased for a one-time fee at closing and generally lasts for as long as the buyer or their heirs have an interest in the property. The owner’s policy protects the buyer should a future covered title problem arise that was not discovered during the pre-closing title search.

The cost of an owner’s policy is based on a promulgated rate which is calculated by examining the cost of the property, i.e. the amount of the face value of the policy. If a mortgage is involved the lender usually obtains their own lender’s policy and in those instances it may be possible to obtain an owner’s policy at a reduced rate, since the work to issue the policy is the same regardless of whether one or multiple policies are issued. It is also possible to obtain expanded coverage, beyond the face amount of the transaction, if the buyer so desires.

3. What are the types of Florida deeds?

Generally speaking, there are three types of deeds in Florida, they are (in order simplest to most complex) the quit claim deed, the special warranty deed, and the general warranty (statutory) deed.

The quit claim deed provides the least amount of assurance to the buyer in the form of warranties. A quit claim deed basically says “whatever interest I possess in the property, I give to you, the buyer.”  The seller/transferor generally makes no representations as to ownership, title, or right to convey, and usually no review of the record of title is conducted. Quit claim deeds are frequently used in estate or business planning as a convenient method of transferring property from an owner to themselves in another capacity or interest (e.g. as trustee of their trust or to their company).

The special warranty deed provides a limited amount of assurance to the buyer in the form of warranties.  The maker of a special warranty deed will usually provide assurances of ownership, title, and right to convey, but only as to themselves as grantor.  Special warranty deeds are most often used in commercial transactions.

The general, or statutory, warranty deed provides the greatest amount of assurance to the buyer in the form of warranties. The maker of a special warranty deed makes full representation as to ownership, title, and right to convey and promises to protect against all claims against the property.  The form of these deeds is set out in the Florida Statutes and they are most often used in residential real estate transactions.

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USEFUL LINKS

Florida Bar Consumer Pamphlet: Buying a Home

Florida Bar Consumer Pamphlet: Building a Home

Florida Bar Consumer Tip: How to Safeguard Against Fraud When You Buy Property