Southwest Florida, and particularly Ft Myers, Cape Coral, and Naples, is a haven for non-typical real estate transactions. Out-of-state retirees purchasing their snowbird destination, worldwide investors seeking rental and commercial property opportunities, and families purchasing vacation homes are just some of the types of people making real estate purchases.
It’s an excellent idea to hire an attorney who specializes in real estate for the average home purchase, here are 21 reasons why you might need one on board for your Southwest Florida real estate experience.
Reason #1 – You’re An Out-of-State Buyer
As a buyer from across the country – or even across the globe— you may not have any knowledge of the different regulations and requirements that pertain to the sale of property in Florida. A local attorney will help you navigate the sale with ease.
Reason #2 – You Are Buying a Bank Owned, Short Sale, or Foreclosed Property
These types of properties have special conditions which a real estate lawyer can help you understand. They’ll assist in bank negotiations and review the property title to be sure you are receiving a viable, insurable title.
Reason #3 – You Are Buying a Property That May Have Structural Issues or Hidden Hurricane Damage
Unfortunately, Mother Nature has not been very kind to Southwest Florida recently. A real estate lawyer can help secure the kind of property inspection you’ll want in order to find any potential structural problems or damage that may not otherwise be caught prior to your purchase. (This can be anything from hurricane damage to termites, mold, or asbestos.) A real estate lawyer can also help ensure the seller follows Florida laws regarding disclosure.
Reason #4 – There Has Been Additions or Improvements to the Property That May Not Follow Code
Any additions or improvements made to a property must follow specific state and local codes and regulations. This is especially important in Southwest Florida, where many regulations are set for safety when hurricanes strike. You need to know, as a buyer, that these codes and regulations have been followed, and what to do if not.
Reason #5 – You’ve Lost Trust In The Real Estate Agents and/or The Title Company Involved
Sometimes, situations change. Sometimes, you get a feeling that something isn’t right or someone isn’t trustworthy. Unfortunately, this can happen with real estate agents and title agents— even after they have been working with you for a while. A real estate lawyer can help you be sure these individuals are fulfilling their legal duties to you and help navigate what to do if they are not.
Reason #6 – You Aren’t Comfortable Signing Lengthy Legal Documents Without a Knowledgeable Person’s Guidance
To the untrained eye, a legal document can look a lot like a confusing jumble of conditions, requirements, and agreements. A real estate lawyer can help you navigate these; what happens if you want to cancel the contract? How long do you have to do so? What if there are title issues? What are you going to be required to do under the terms of the contract? A real estate lawyer can explain these things in terms that make sense to you.
Reason #7 – There is a Current Tenant That Needs to be Evicted
This can be a tricky situation for all involved. What are your obligations as a buyer in an eviction situation? Florida’s laws regarding landlords and tenants are very detailed. A real estate lawyer can ensure the law is being followed and help navigate the process.
Reason #8 – You Have Liens or Judgements Against You
A real estate lawyer can help explain how a lien will affect you and what procedures will need to be followed to complete a real estate purchase with judgements or liens against you.
Reason #9 – You Want a Third Party to Hold Your Deposit In Case Issues Appear
A real estate lawyer can act as an escrow agent, holding your deposit in case of problems that may arise.
Reason #10 – Based on Knowledge You Have, You Feel Like Something May Go Wrong With the Transaction
There are Florida laws in place that define the duties a seller has to the buyer. A real estate lawyer can help ensure these duties are fulfilled – and determine what happens if a problem does occur and you wish to hold the seller responsible.
Reason #11 – You Are Buying A Commercial Property
Commercial property purchases can be far more complex than a residential real estate transaction. It’s a good idea to have a real estate lawyer at the ready to help with anything that may arise, including environmental issues, leaseholds, tenant claims, special structured financing, and corporate ownership.
Reason #12 You Are Buying or Selling with an Uncooperative Partner
Sometimes, you might find that you are trying to sell a property with an uncooperative partner. While a real estate lawyer can’t help you with marital problems, they can help in situations where special legal actions need to be taken to force a real estate transaction to completion.
Reason #13 – You’re Worried You Will Lose Your Deposit Due To Financing Trouble
Certain clauses can be written in to real estate contracts to address this potential issue. A real estate lawyer can make suggestions to ensure the return of your deposit if you are not able to obtain the necessary financing.
Reason #14 – You Have Concerns About the Property Value and Appraisal
Appraisals can be fickle and different appraisers may give different results. If you are concerned about the proper valuation of the property, a real estate lawyer can help by recommending clauses to add to the contract to protect you, as well as make any other recommendations on what to do when you receive varying appraisals.
Reason #15 – You’d Rather Have a Third Party Communicate With Your On Your Behalf On Touchy Subjects Like Fees
Real estate agents can legally tack on fees and call them “administrative fees” – telling someone you are working with to buy a property that you don’t want to pay for additional fees can be a touchy subject. A lawyer can speak on your behalf, easing the potential tension.
Reason #16 – You Want To Be Sure You Aren’t Signing Anything You Don’t Have To
A real estate lawyer can review your closing documents and inform you about what is actually required for the buyer and seller to sign.
Reason #17 – You Have Concerns About Things The Seller or Real Estate Agent May Not Be Telling You About The Property
If you have suspicions about the honesty of the seller or real estate agency when it comes to disclosing all of the known details on the condition of the property in question, a real estate lawyer can help you traverse these potential issues by suggesting additions to the contract to protect you and ensure everything is disclosed that should be.
Reason #18 – You Are Buying or Selling a Property That is Part of a Trust or Probate Administration
In these situations, a personal representative or trustee will be speaking and acting in the place of the beneficiary. A real estate lawyer is here to help you navigate this potentially tricky situation.
Reason #19 – You Are Selling Your Property Without A Real Estate Agent (For Sale By Owner)
A real estate lawyer can help create a well-written contract and advise you during the selling process as offers come in – some proposals can have negative tax implications that you’ll want to avoid. A real estate lawyer can also search the title and verify the title is clear and defect-free.
Reason #20 – You Want an Objective Eye on Your Closing Documents
Asking a real estate lawyer to be a part of your closing process is a good idea. They can look over all of the closing documents and be sure you aren’t being subject to excessive fees, that everything is being fairly paid for by the correct parties, and that all appropriate documents are signed by all parties.
Reason #21 – The Title to the Property Has Exceptions or Problems
If a title search has been performed and exceptions or problems arise, a real estate lawyer can help review the title and be sure there are no legal restrictions that will hinder your ability to buy or sell the property.
Bottom line, if you are buying or selling a home in southwest Florida, consulting a real estate lawyer is a good idea. It can give you peace of mind, save many possible headaches and potentially save you loads of money. If you’re ready to buy or sell in Naples, Cape Coral, or the Ft. Myers area, contact us today for a consultation.