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Frequently Asked Questions about Real Estate Law

Q: What is real estate?

A: Real estate (also called real property) refers to land and things attached to land. For most consumers, real estate consists of their home and the lot surrounding it. Commercial real estate may include factories, equipment, and other facilities. In addition to buildings and equipment, resources existing on (or under) the land, including minerals and gas, are part of real estate. Some of these components of real estate can be sold separately.

Q: What are deeds for?

A: Deeds indicate, and are generally required to transfer, ownership of real estate. A deed contains the names of the old and new owners and a legal description of the property and is signed by the person transferring the property. The different kinds of deeds, such as the warranty deed, quit claim deed and grant deed, transfer different interests in property. For example, a seller conveying property by a general warranty deed assures good and marketable title to the buyer and will defend the tile to the property from all persons. In contrast, a seller conveying property by a quit claim deed conveys only what title the seller may have to the property, with no warranty as to ownership or defects in the title.

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Real estate transactions are governed by numerous federal statutes and varying state statutes and common laws that address a wide variety of legal issues related to acquiring, financing, developing, managing, constructing, leasing and selling commercial and residential real property. Buying and selling real estate is generally more complicated than buying or selling expensive goods, such as a car or a boat. With real estate, many different people can have an interest in the same property, tax consequences are more complicated, and possession is not necessarily indicative of ownership. An experienced real estate attorney can help you sort through all of the difficult decisions and negotiations involved in real estate transactions.

The Fitzsimmons Law Office provides comprehensive residential and commercial real estate services to clients throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Our attorneys routinely represent individuals and business interests in the purchase and lease of residential and commercial property. In addition, our firm has extensive experience handling issues related to condominium conversions.

We routinely represent real estate buyers and sellers, as well as mortgage lenders, title insurance companies, and real estate developers throughout Eastern Massachusetts including Middlesex County, Boston metropolitan area, Arlington, Cambridge, Lexington, Somerville, and Belmont.

Our real estate lawyers combine considerable experience with personal attention, to provide each client with smooth, reliable, and cost effective legal representation. Please contact the Fitzsimmons Law Office because there is no substitute for experience.

Real Estate Law - An Overview

Real estate law includes both federal and state issues, with the state-level rules varying widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. These state and federal laws encompass everything from ownership of land and buildings to related issues such as financing, leasing, construction, taxes, and environmental laws. A competent and experienced real estate attorney can protect a party's interests in both routine and complex transactions and disputes.

Brokers

A seller may employ a real estate broker to solicit potential buyers for his or her property. The seller and the broker sign a listing agreement, obliging the broker to work to find a buyer and the seller to pay the broker's commission if a sale results. A buyer may employ a real estate broker to locate suitable property. Real estate brokers are generally subject to rigorous licensing standards established by each state. As an agent, a real estate broker or salesperson has duties and obligations to the person who hired him or her. If an agreement to purchase the property is made, that agreement is strictly between the seller and buyer, and the broker is not a party to that agreement and generally makes no promises about the property.

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Glossary of Real Estate Topics

Real estate law includes lots of jargon and legalese that can be intimidating or at least confusing, especially to first-time homebuyers. An attorney with experience in real estate law can help a buyer or seller understand the terms and concepts pervasive in real estate transactions. Read on to learn more about the terminology of this specialized area.

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Deeds

A deed is an unassuming and usually short piece of paper that has a big legal impact. A deed transfers an ownership interest in real property, and no real estate transaction where ownership transfers is finished until the deed is delivered to the buyer. A deed must include the names of the buyer and seller and the property's legal description. The deed is signed by the person transferring the property and may make that person responsible to the buyer for other claims against or conditions on the property. A knowledgeable real estate attorney can review the deed to ensure that it is accurate and properly executed.

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Home Inspections

Buying a home can be stressful and time consuming. Obtaining a home inspection can take some of the worry out of the process. An independent home inspector will give a buyer a complete picture of the condition of the property he or she is considering buying. Most houses are not perfect, and the inspector's detailed report gives the buyer an unbiased evaluation letting him or her know what needs work now and what will probably need work in the near future. Obtaining a home inspection and reviewing the results with an experienced real estate attorney can put a home buyer in the best position to negotiate his or her purchase.

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What to Expect at Closing

A closing, or settlement, is the meeting during which ownership of the property is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer. The buyer and the seller, their attorneys, both real estate sales professionals, a representative of the lender, and the closing agent typically attend the closing. The closing involves settling any open issues, balancing and verifying an often complex closing statement, and signing all documents necessary to complete the transaction. An attorney with experience in closing real estate transactions will advise you at closing to ensure that your rights are protected.

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