The Lease Option and Lease Purchase Alternatives

Real Estate Closing

Many homeowners who are extremely motivated to sell their homes often overlook the lease option or lease purchase alternatives to home sales. While certainly not a perfect solution, these alternatives may be quite useful in avoiding a short sale or foreclosure.

A lease option agreement is a contract with a deposit of option money granting to the tenant the option to purchase the property upon certain fixed terms and conditions at a particular date in the future. If the tenant does not exercise the option in accordance with the terms of agreement or is otherwise in default under the agreement, the tenant loses the right to purchase the property and forfeits any and all interest in the option money paid by the tenant. If the tenant does exercise the option to purchase, the tenant is given credit for the option money consideration against the purchase price.  The format of a lease option agreement can vary, but typically consists of a lease with provisions concerning the option to purchase, i.e. when and how the option can be exercised as well as the terms of the purchase. Oftentimes, the terms of the purchase are set forth in a real estate contract attached to the lease option agreement, and are incorporated by reference into the lease option agreement.

A lease purchase agreement is really nothing more than a real estate contract with a delayed closing date, with the Buyer leasing the property until the closing date. The Buyer pays an earnest money deposit to be applied against the purchase price at closing. If the Buyer defaults under the lease, the Buyer will be deemed to have defaulted under the purchase contract and vice-versa. If the Buyer defaults, the Seller will have all remedies set forth in the contract and the lease arising out of the Buyer’s default.

One of the main sticking points in the negotiations of these types of agreements is the responsibility for repairs or replacements which may become necessary during the term of the agreement. It is almost always the case that the tenant is responsible for normal maintenance, but who is responsible if the roof leaks or the refrigerator needs to be replaced? The answer may depend on which of the agreements is being utilized. A lease purchase agreement is often times being done at the request of the Buyer who needs time to establish good credit or save money for a down payment. Under these circumstances, there is a stronger basis to require that the Buyer be responsible for repairs and replacements. As a compromise, the parties may be able to agree that the Seller is responsible for the first fifty dollars ($50.00) or one hundred dollars ($100.00) of each repair.

Some concerns for the Buyer under either of these agreements is the potential for title problems or a foreclosure action against the Seller which may result in the Seller not being able to convey marketable title to the property or worse yet, the Seller losing title to the property and the tenant/Buyer potentially being evicted from the property. Of concern to the Seller are the liability issues and other potential problems associated with being a landlord.

In many cases, the Seller under either of these agreements will be able to sell the property for a higher price than a distress sale or pre-foreclosure sale. Additionally, these alternatives do not result in negative credit experience to the Seller.

This article is intended to be a very general discussion of lease option agreements and lease purchase agreements. There are numerous other issues and considerations in connection with these documents. It is imperative that you consult with competent legal counsel to address these and other issues associated with lease options and lease purchase agreements.

Real Estate Closings

Real Estate Closing

Real estate closings have become increasingly complex over the years.  When you are getting involved in a real estate transaction as either a buyer or seller, it is important that you use an experienced real estate attorney that is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in real property law.  With almost thirty years of real estate law experience and having represented buyer and sellers in over 15,000 real estate transactions, you will benefit from Steve Greenberg’s experience in all aspects of your real estate transaction from Contract through closing.

While you have many choices as to who to use to handle your closing, experience and service is what really matters.  Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron have paralegals and legal secretaries on his staff providing effective and timely service to his clients. Furthermore, Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron’s Director of Marketing, Linda Witt Aloan, who holds the designations of Certified Paralegal, Florida Certified Paralegal, and Florida Registered Paralegal, is available to clients and Realtors after hours to assist in providing answers requiring immediate attention.

Title insurance premiums are established by statute and most real estate attorneys are charging no attorney’s fee to represent the buyer in the closing process when the attorney issues the title insurance.  In fact, sometimes it is even less expensive to use an attorney than a title company.  So, why use an attorney for your transactions?  Here are just some of the benefits:

  • An attorney can review the Contract which is prepared by the Realtor on behalf of the buyer.  Oftentimes, suggestions are made that would significantly benefit the buyer.
  • There are many boilerplate contingency forms available to Realtors.  Sometimes, however, the particular circumstances require a carefully drafted contingency involving significant legal implications.  An attorney can draft the contingency – a title company cannot.  It is of great benefit to buyers to have this additional resource.
  • It is common for issues to arise as a result of the home inspection.  The legal interpretation of the Contract and the specific rights and obligations of the parties need to be addressed and sometimes legally enforced with the assistance of the attorney.
  • There are significant consequences on how the buyer takes title to real property.  Legal advice can and should only be given by an attorney.  The manner in which title will be held can have a great impact on homestead, estate planning issues, etc.
  • In the event of a property defect detected during the final walk through, an attorney can draft a complete and thorough escrow agreement providing for monies to be held in escrow from the Seller’s net proceeds from the sale of the property to correct the problem.  If the escrow agreement is not drafted properly, there may be disagreement between the buyer and seller as to the disbursement of the escrow funds, oftentimes leading to litigation.  Title companies and some attorneys not specializing in real estate typically have a simple form with blanks to be filled in for the escrow agreement.
  • It is sometimes beneficial for the buyer to create an entity to take title to the real property, e.g. trust, limited liability company, partnership, limited liability partnership, corporation, etc.   While the fees and costs of formation of the entity would be charged to the buyer above and beyond the required title insurance premium, the decision as to whether to create one of these entities for the buyer is an important legal decision and involves legal advice not permitted to be given by a title company.

These are only a few examples of why a real estate attorney should handle your real estate closing. As additional credentials, a real estate attorney certified by the Florida Bar in real estate law should give the buyer some comfort in knowing that they are dealing with an attorney specializing in real estate transactions.

Proper Use of a Power of Attorney

Escrow Agreement

A power of attorney grants authority to another person, as agent, to do all acts on behalf of the principal as described in the power of attorney. A power of attorney should only be used for a real estate transaction when it is extremely difficult or impossible to obtain the execution of the documents by the principal. With the existing ease of sending documents via overnight mail, electronic mail, and facsimile, it is only in the rarest of circumstances that a power of attorney should be relied upon in connection with a real estate transaction.

A power of attorney must be executed with the same formality of the instrument to be executed under it. Since a deed requires two (2) subscribing witnesses and an acknowledgment by a Notary Public, so too must the power of attorney be executed by the principal in the presence of two (2) subscribing witnesses and an acknowledgment by a Notary Public. By the time the principal can sign a power of attorney in the presence of two (2) subscribing witnesses and a notary public, the principal can in most circumstances sign the deed and other closing documents instead of the power of attorney.

Where the principal’s property is to be placed under Contract, conveyed by deed, mortgaged, etc., the well established rule is that the instrument must name the principal as the Seller, Grantor, or Mortgagor, as appropriate, and it must be clear from examining the entire instrument that it is an act of the principal, not the agent. The preferred method of execution of the instrument is for the agent to sign the principal’s name by himself, as agent, e.g. “Steven R. Greenberg, by John Doe, his attorney in fact”.

The power of attorney must be specific, i.e. it should plainly state the clear authority for its particular use in the transaction. The “power to sell real and personal property” does not include the power to execute a deed to convey title to the property. Instead, the power of attorney should expressly state that the attorney in fact is authorized to “convey title” or to “execute and deliver a deed” to any real and personal property which I may own in order to be effective for this purpose.

A copy of the power of attorney should be delivered to the closing agent at the earliest opportunity to confirm that it will be sufficient for its intended use. Often times, the closing agent is presented with the power of attorney either close to the Closing Date or worse, at the closing, only to find out that the power of attorney will not be adequate for the transaction. While the power of attorney may be sufficient in another state where it was prepared and executed, the laws of the State of Florida will control in the determination of whether the power of attorney will be sufficient for the transaction. Also, many lenders will not allow the borrower (buyer) to execute loan documents under a power of attorney.

It is also important to remember that the original power of attorney will have to be recorded in the public records of the County in which the property is located. A conveyance, transfer, mortgage, or lease, of real property under an unrecorded power of attorney is not valid against creditors or certain purchasers for valuable consideration and without notice.

The power of attorney is revoked by the death of the principal. Also, a durable power of attorney may be relied on until such time as the principal dies, or revokes the power, or is adjudicated incapacitated. Furthermore, the power of attorney may terminate by its own terms if there is a termination date set forth in the power of attorney.

Why do You Need a Survey?

Escrow Agreement

Surveys are involved in almost every real estate transaction, except for transactions involving the sale of a condominium. The Contract for sale of real estate will give the Buyer a limited period of time to both obtain the survey and to put the Seller on written notice of any survey defects. A survey map depicts the shape and size of the lot and all improvements located on the lot. It should also show all setbacks, easements, and other matters observed by the surveyor. Of course, the survey map will include a legal description of the property surveyed and should be certified to the buyer, the title underwriter, the closing agent, and the buyer’s lender, if any. Finally, the survey map should include the surveyor’s signature and seal, which is a representation by the surveyor that the survey map is in compliance with the Minimum Technical Standards for Florida.

The title insurance policy includes “Survey Coverage.” Survey coverage is provided by deleting or modifying the standard survey exceptions in the title policy. The standard survey exceptions in the title policy are as follows:

1.         Rights or claims of parties in possession not shown by the public records.

2.         Encroachments, overlaps, boundary disputes, and any other matters which would be disclosed by an accurate survey and inspection of the premises.

3.         Easements or claims of easements not shown by the public records.

In order for the closing agent to delete the standard exceptions, there must be a careful review of the survey map. The closing agent should raise specific exceptions to individual survey defects and all parties to the transaction should be put on written notice of such defects within the time frame authorized in the Contract. It is imperative that the closing agent (attorney or title company) provide to the surveyor a copy of the title commitment so that the surveyor will be aware of such matters as easements and deed restriction setbacks. It is not the job of the surveyor to search the public records to determine matters of public record affecting title to the subject property other than those matters appearing on the plat of the subdivision.

Prior survey maps can be utilized for the current real estate transaction in certain circumstances. In order for the closing agent to rely on the prior survey map for purposes of deleting the standard exceptions (thereby saving the buyer the cost of a new survey), the seller must provide an Affidavit to the closing agent confirming that:

1.         They are the owners of the property.

2.         They have reviewed a copy of the survey map of the property.

3.         Since the date of the survey map, there have been no additional improvements constructed on the property and there have been no modifications or additions to the improvements shown on the survey map.

4.         Since the date of the survey map, there have been no improvements or fences erected on any adjacent property.

The Buyer needs a survey map of the property being purchased in order to be protected. The closing agent should be carefully skilled at reviewing the survey map. The closing process is a team effort and only skilled professionals should be employed for the best results.

Our Staff

VIRGINIA MADDEN, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING

Virginia is new to Sarasota, but not new to the legal world.  Prior to her move here, she served as the Marketing Director of a large law firm in Northwestern Pennsylvania for the past 10 years.  Virginia is very client-focused and will provide you with all the same services we’ve offered in the past.

Virginia is available to buyers, sellers, and Realtors days, evenings and weekends via email at vmadden@icardmerrill.com or phone 941.586.4412. If she is unable to answer your questions, she can contact Mr. Greenberg or Mrs. Coldiron to address your legal issue. Virginia knows that buying or selling real estate is not a 9-to-5 business!

 

Sonja

SONJA BEHN

Sonja was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida, and is a Florida Registered Paralegal holding two paralegal degrees. She is past president of Southwest Florida Paralegal Association and continues to work with the organization. Prior to coming to work for Mr. Greenberg, she was involved in all aspects of office and account administration. Sonja has been with Mr. Greenberg since 2004 and is a real estate closing processor.

 

Laura GainesLAURA GAINES

Laura is originally from Georgia and has been a resident of Sarasota since 1984.  Following graduation from the University of Florida, she has worked over 30 years in the financial services and  real estate industries. Laura has been with Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron since 2016 as a legal assistant.

 

Karla

KARLA NEUMANN

Karla began her real estate career in Georgia selling lots on Lake Sinclair, and moved to Sarasota in 1989. She worked as an Escrow Agent at a title company since 1993, and became a Licensed Title Agent in 1999 and is a Florida Registered Paralegal. Karla has been a real estate closer with Mr.  Greenberg since 1999.

 

Janette

JANETTE STACK

Janette is originally from Alabama and has been a Sarasota Florida resident since 1966. For more than 20 years, Janette has assisted with all aspects of financing and construction administration of residential and commercial properties. She is a Florida Registered Paralegal and has been a real estate closer with Mr. Greenberg since 2009.

 

Kristie

KRISTIE TONITIS

Kristie is a lifelong resident of the Sarasota area. She has over 12 years experience in multiple facets of Real Estate. Her career began as a closing processor for Chelsea Title. She also has worked as a Realtor. As a licensed Mortgage Broker, she was originating and processing mortgages. Kristie has been with Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron since 2014 as a real estate closing processor.

 

Laurie Molnar, Closer

LORI MOLNAR

Lori has been a Sarasota Florida resident since 1984. She has worked in the title insurance industry since 2003 and is a licensed Florida title agent. Lori has held the positions of real estate closer as well as marketing representative in her positions for both attorneys and title companies and has been a real estate closer with Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron since 2014.

 

Escrow Disputes

Escrow Disputes

This article will address issues that arise in connection with escrow disputes pertaining to the Buyer’s earnest money deposit (the “Deposit”) paid pursuant to a Contract for the Sale of Real Estate (the “Contract”).

Escrow disputes arise when the Buyer and Seller cannot agree to the disposition of the Deposit paid by the Buyer under the terms of the Contract.  In most cases, the dispute arises when the Buyer believes that the Buyer is entitled to a refund of the Deposit because a contingency of the Contract has not been satisfied or waived, the Buyer believes that the Seller has defaulted under the Contract and the Buyer demands a refund of the Deposit, or the Seller believes that the Buyer has defaulted under the Contract and the Seller claims the Deposit.  In any event, if the Seller makes a claim on the Deposit or refuses to agree to allow the Escrow Agent to refund the Deposit to the Buyer, there becomes an escrow dispute.

Escrow disputes are handled differently depending on whether the Florida Association of Realtors (the “FAR”) form of Contract or the Florida Association of Realtors/Florida Bar (the “FAR/BAR”) form of Contract is utilized.  In the FAR Contract, disputes concerning entitlement to Deposits made and to be made are handled as follows:

“Buyer and Seller will have 30 days from the date conflicting demands are made to attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation.  If that fails, Escrow Agent will submit the dispute, if so required by Florida law, to Escrow Agent’s choice of arbitration, a Florida court or the Florida Real Estate Commission.  Buyer and Seller will be bound by any resulting award, judgment or order.”

The FAR/BAR Contract provides that, “If any litigation occurs between the parties as a result of the Contract, the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorneys fees incurred and all court costs for both original and appellate proceedings.”  Accordingly, there is no obligation for mediation and unless the Buyer and Seller agree to binding arbitration, the escrow dispute will be handle through the courts.

It is worth noting that the listing agreement utilized by the Multiple Listing Service (the “MLS”) provides that the Brokers are entitled to receive a portion of the Deposit forfeited by the Buyer, provided that the amount to be received by the Brokers shall not exceed the amount each Broker would have received had the closing occurred .  Therefore, it is critical that the Seller insist on a significant amount of a Deposit from the Buyer.  Otherwise, it is too easy for the Buyer to walk away from the Deposit and it is not worthwhile for the Seller to pursue the Deposit, leaving the Seller with legal fees and costs and then paying over one half of the forfeited Deposit to the Brokers.

When terminating a real estate Contract, it is critical that a Contract Termination and Release of Deposit Agreement be utilized.  This is somewhat of a standardized form.  This Agreement formally terminates the Contract and provides for the disposition of the Deposit.  Many Buyers and Sellers are under the impression that as long as the Buyer and Seller are fighting over the Deposit, the Seller cannot market and sell the property.  However, if the parties are not looking to specific performance as the remedy for the default of the other party and instead, are only fighting over the Deposit, the Seller can market and sell the property to a third party.  Care should be taken to confirm that the dispute only involves the Deposit (and not the property) before the property is re-listed and sold

Contact and Location

Steven R. Greenberg, Esquire

Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg, P.A.

2033 Main Street, Suite 500
Sarasota, FL 34237
Phone:     (941) 365-6216
Facsimile: (941) 954-6585
Email: sgreenberg@icardmerrill.com

Natalie G. Coldiron, Esquire

Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg, P.A.

2033 Main Street, Suite 500
Sarasota, FL 34237
Phone:     (941) 365-6216
Facsimile: (941) 954-6585
Email: ncoldiron@icardmerrill.com

Virginia Madden

DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
for Steven R. Greenberg, Esquire
and Natalie G. Coldiron, Esquire
Phone: (941) 586-4412
Email: vmadden@icardmerrill.com

location

Escrow Agreements

Escrow Agreement

Oftentimes, an escrow agreement will be necessary for the purpose of payment for repairs to be completed post-closing. If the escrow agreement does not contain the essential elements, the Buyer or Seller may end up with unexpected liabilities.

The Florida Association of Realtors (“FAR”) Contract provides in pertinent part that, “If Seller is unable to complete required repairs or treatments or meet the Maintenance Requirement prior to closing, Seller will give Buyer a credit at closing for the cost of the repairs and maintenance Seller was obligated to perform.”  Buyers should be cautions about agreeing to accept a credit from the Seller since most institutional lenders will not allow credits for repairs. Moreover, it is usually the case that the parties will not know the exact cost of the repairs and the Seller will instead insist on an escrow of funds from which the repairs will be paid with all amounts remaining thereafter being paid over to the Seller.

A properly drafted escrow agreement will address, at a minimum, the following items:

1.        The name of the Escrow Agent. Someone (or some entity) needs to be named as the Escrow Agent and should sign the escrow agreement agreeing to hold and disburse the escrow funds in accordance with the terms of the escrow agreement.

2.        The names of the parties to the escrow agreement must be clearly set forth in the document and all parties should sign the escrow agreement.

3.        The amount of the escrow funds must be specified. The Buyer’s agent should always let the Buyer select the amount of the escrow funds to be held based on the written estimate from a contractor selected by the Buyer. Consideration should also be given as to whether the Seller would be obligated to pay the additional amount if the cost of repairs exceeds the escrow funds. From the Seller’s perspective, the Seller may want to limit the Seller’s liability to the amount of the escrow funds.

4.        The escrow agreement should clearly state the repairs to be made. If the repairs to be made are not clearly identified, the Buyer may try to utilize the escrow funds for other repairs which the Buyer may become aware of after the closing. This may result in litigation over the escrow agreement.

5.        It is imperative that the escrow agreement provide for the maximum period of time that the escrow funds will be held. Otherwise, there may be no provision for the eventual release of the escrow funds and the termination of the escrow agreement.

6.        The escrow agreement should be clear as to whether the Seller or the Buyer is responsible for getting the repairs completed and what are the rights and obligations of the parties in the event that the repairs are not timely completed.

7.        The procedure for the release of the escrow funds should be set forth in the escrow agreement, i.e. what approvals or documents must be given to the Escrow Agent prior to the release of the escrow funds.

8.        The method of dispute resolution should be clearly established in the escrow agreement. A dispute under the terms of the escrow agreement is not a matter to be resolved by FREC or a FREC disbursement order and instead, will probably be handled through the judicial system.

It is evident that an escrow agreement is not a document to be loosely drafted at the closing table. In fact, a real estate attorney is best suited to drafting the escrow agreement, usually at no additional charge to the Buyer when the attorney is handling the closing, in order the best protect the interests of the Buyer.

Sale of Homestead Property and the need for Spousal Joinder

Constitutional homestead of Florida property has been addressed in a previous article; however, there is now case law that mandates a closer look at your responsibility as a real estate agent with regard to contract negotiations and execution.

Under the Florida Constitution, a married person cannot convey title to his/her homestead without the joinder of the spouse in the Deed. For title underwriting considerations, both the owner and the spouse must execute the same Deed and not sign on two separate Deeds. The joinder requirement also exists in connection with the mortgaging of homestead property.  If a person is legally married (no Dissolution of Marriage has been entered by a Court), and he/she wants to convey or mortgage his/her homestead property, the spouse must sign on the deed or mortgage for purposes of waiving the homestead interest of the spouse.  The focus of this article is on conveying homestead property owned by only one spouse.

The spousal joinder requirement was the subject of a relatively recent Florida Case, Taylor v. Maness. In that case, the title to the marital residence (homestead) was vested solely in Mr. Maness’ name. Mr. Maness decided to sell the property and entered into a contract for the sale of the property. The contract reflected only Mr. Maness as the seller and the contract was not signed by his wife. Mrs. Maness refused to sign the deed transferring title of the property to the Taylors, claiming that she had a homestead interest in the property. The Taylors sued for specific performance of the contract, fraud in the inducement and negligent misrepresentation, based on the seller’s inability to sell the property. The trial court entered a summary judgment for the seller since there was no genuine issue of material fact relating to Mrs. Maness’ homestead interest and that the seller was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

The Taylors appealed the decision to the Third District Court of Appeals. The Taylors argued that because the Manasses failed to claim a homestead tax exemption, it evidences that the property was not the Manesses’ homestead. The Court confirmed that failure to claim the homestead tax exemption is not evidence that property is not homestead property. There is a significant distinction between homestead for tax purposes and the Constitutional protection pertaining to homestead property. The Court reasoned that the Taylors could not specifically enforce the contract since Mrs. Manass did not sign the contract and could not be compelled to waive her homestead rights.

Also of interest in the case is the Court’s ruling that the Taylors were not entitled to damages for fraud in the inducement and negligent misrepresentation. The Court held that Mr. Manass did not misrepresent his ownership of the property and accordingly, there was no misrepresentation and no failure in the inducement. In essence, the Taylors had no remedy.

This case underscores the importance of ascertaining whether the property is the homestead of the seller whenever the seller is married and title is held in the name of only one spouse. It is critical that the seller’s spouse join in the execution of the contract for sale of the property. Otherwise, the buyer may find himself in the same position as the Taylors without any legal remedy. If, for example, title to the property is in the name of the husband, the correct seller on the contract would be “John Smith, joined by his wife, Jane Smith” and the contract and all addendums should be signed by both spouses.

Areas of Practice

Areas of Practice

Real Estate Closings

Steve Greenberg and Natalie Coldiron represent Buyers and Sellers in all aspects of real estate transactions – from contract to closing.  Only an attorney can give you advice regarding the numerous legal and technical issues necessary to protect your interests; title companies cannot give legal advice.  Furthermore, when you use a Board Certified Real Estate Attorney , you are entrusting your legal matter to an attorney who has earned the status of a specialist in real estate law.  When Mr. Greenberg or Ms. Coldiron are acting as the closing agent, there is no attorney’s fee charged and the client who is paying for title insurance pays the same fees as charged by a title company.

Title Insurance

As an agent of several of the largest title insurance underwriters in the United States, Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron are able to obtain for Buyers of real estate a title insurance policy protecting Buyers from numerous types of title defects.  Examples of title defects include forgeries, defective deeds, unsatisfied mortgages and judgments, misfiled documents, lost heirs, etc.  The premium for title insurance is set by Florida Statute and there is a one-time premium for the title insurance policy paid at closing.

Purchase of Short Sale or Bank Owned Property

In Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte Counties, the party paying for title insurance in connection with a real estate transaction is negotiable. It is customary though that the buyer selects the closing agent and pays for the title insurance, title search fee, and the Settlement Fee. However, in sales of short sale and bank owned properties, the seller usually pays these charges. The good news for the buyer is that the buyer is not having to pay these charges; the bad news for the buyer is that the buyer has no legal representation in the closing. Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron represent buyers of short sale and bank owned properties on a fixed fee basis for an amount usually much less than the fees that the buyer would have paid if the buyer were paying for the title insurance, title search, fee and Settlement Fee.

Legal representation of a buyer of a short sale or bank owned property is as or more important than a “regular” sale since there are matters specific to these types of transactions which require the experience of an attorney specializing in real estate transactions.

Please contact Linda Witt Aloan, Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron’s Director of Marketing, for a quote for the fee for representation in a short sale or bank owned property purchase. Linda can be reached at (941) 586-4412 or by email at REinfo@icardmerrill.com.

Contract Preparation

The real estate contract specifies the rights and obligations of the parties regarding the purchase and sale of real property.  While there are a few standardized contract forms typically used for residential real estate transactions, the proper completion of the contract documents as well as the drafting of effective addenda to the contract require the skill and care of a professional with specialized knowledge.  Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron have the experience necessary to protect and advance the interests of the Buyer or Seller by preparing a contract specific to their needs. When a contract has been prepared by a Realtor, contract review is provided at no additional cost to the Buyer or Seller–it is part of the closing transaction.

Refinance of Mortgage/New Mortgage

Steve Greenberg and Natalie Coldiron represent property owners in transactions involving the borrowing of money from a lender secured by a mortgage.  A thorough explanation of the loan documents is provided to the borrower so that there is a clear understanding of all of the terms of the loan.  Borrowers have the right to choose the closing agent when obtaining a loan.  If Mr. Greenberg or Ms. Coldiron are chosen to handle a refinance, be assured that he will provide legal representation and his real estate staff will provide the care during the process for the same charges typically charged by title companies.

Deeds

Title to real estate is conveyed by a deed.  The importance of a properly prepared deed is significant, especially when putting title into a Trust or other entity.  Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron draft deeds to property, typically as part of a real estate closing, but sometimes, upon the direction of the property owner’s counsel, for reasons associated with their estate planning.

Mortgages

Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron represent lenders in loans secured by a real estate mortgage. This is especially important for Seller’s who will take back a mortgage (act as the lender) associated with the sale of a property and for Buyer’s who are obtaining private financing for a real estate purchase.  The drafting of a proper note and mortgage should protect the lender in many respects.  Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron have the legal knowledge and experience to assist in a mortgage loan transaction.

Leases

A lease agreement involves important rights and obligations of the landlord and tenant.  There is no standard lease agreement and accordingly, the lease agreement needs to be tailored to meet the specific understandings of the parties.  Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron have drafted hundreds of leases and assists landlords or tenants in the drafting of leases.

Lease/Purchase Agreements

A lease/purchase is a delayed closing with the Buyer leasing the property until the closing.  There are many important legal issues to be addressed in a lease/purchase agreement.  Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Coldiron represent Buyers or Sellers in lease/purchase transactions advancing the legal interest of the client as both the lease and the contract are prepared simultaneously at the onset of the agreement.

Lease/Option Agreements

A lease/option agreement allows the tenant to lease the property and have the option to purchase the property at a future date upon pre-determined terms and conditions. A skillful attorney will identify and properly address the legal issues involved in both the lease and option components of a lease/option arrangement.  Mr. Greenberg or Ms. Coldiron will draft the lease/option agreement utilizing their legal expertise that will address these issues to effectively represent the Buyer or Seller in a lease/option agreement.