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Real Estate Law

Real estate law governs the legal issues arising from the ownership, purchase, transfer, rental, titling, development, zoning, and loans related to real property. "Real property," which is used interchangeably with "real estate" and "realty" refer to the land and structures, including other tangible aspects of the two, such as permanent fixtures in the land and structures. Real estate law is comprised of numerous, and often conflicting, rules and regulations enacted by states and other local governments. Real estate attorneys thus are versed in different aspects of the law and often concentrate on specific areas.

One of the common issues arising from real estate law would be the sale and purchase of real property. It is customary for sellers to engage the services of real estate brokers to seek out buyers for their property. Typically, the seller and the real estate broker enter into a listing agreement under which the broker agrees to list the property so that buyers may find it. In exchange, the seller agrees to pay the agent a commission, which is based on the proceeds from the sale of the property. The brokering business is governed by law and are subject to certain requirements, including licenses to operate, the requirements of which vary from state to state. As part of their required professional conduct, real estate brokers, under the Federal Fair Housing Act, are prohibited from discriminating against prospective buyers based on race, color sex, among others.

The sale of real property is governed by another set of laws, which, again, vary from state to state. Because the seller and the buyer come to a meeting of the minds in the purchase of the property, the sale of property is generally governed by contract law. Under contract law, a sale agreement is required to be put into writing for documentary evidence in case there is fraud in either of the parties.

Of the requirements in the sale of real property is that the property must have an appropriate title and the title to such property must be marketable. This means that the title must be clean in that there are liens attached to the property. It is in this stage of the sale process that buyers often require the help of real estate attorneys to look into whether the title of the property is marketable. Following an attorney's assurance that the title is marketable, a deed of the land must be executed. Some states require that deeds must be placed on official record so that the whole world will be notified that there has been change of ownership. The deed requires a detailed description of the land, in terms of metes and bounds, which description must be filled up by land surveyors. To finance the purchase of a real property, the prospective purchaser often obtains a mortgage because the cost of purchasing the property may be too steep and the prospective buyer might not have on hand the cash required to make such a purchase. Mortgage is governed by another set of laws.

Areas of Law