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Residential and Commercial Real Estate FAQs

December 3, 2014 in FAQs | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

Do I need a real estate attorney to buy or sell a house?

In this day and age, it is not required to be represented by an attorney if you buy or sell a house or other real property.  However, while an attorney will add expense to the real estate transaction, hiring a knowledgeable and experienced real estate attorney can save you significant time, money, and hassle.

This is because buying or selling real estate is an important transaction that has serious legal and practical consequences.  For starters, you are entering into a legally binding contract and an experienced Virginia real estate attorney is specifically skilled in drafting and understanding legal contracts.  We, therefore, recommend having a real estate attorney look over any real estate contract before you sign.  Once a contract is formed, you are legally bound by the entire contents of the contract regardless of whether you were fully aware of its meaning.  While a realtor and title company are very helpful resources, only a real estate attorney can provide you with legal advice.

Additionally, an experienced Virginia real estate attorney is skilled in the variety of legal matters that come up during any real estate transaction.  For example, through their experience, Virginia real estate attorneys are aware of the potential pitfalls that harm both buyers and sellers and are able to employ legal strategies to protect your interests and the property.   Attorneys are also able to provide valuable legal advice on matters involving finance, taxes, title or deed issues, warranties, inspections, zoning, restrictive covenants, and other legal issues that could arise throughout the real estate process.

What is a mechanic’s lien?

A mechanic’s lien is essentially a “hold” placed upon property due to an unpaid debt.  This could arise when a contractor, subcontractor, tradesman, laborer, or material supplier files a mechanic’s lien against a property if they have not been fully paid for work performed or materials provided.

Mechanic’s liens are security interests in the property, which means the property acts as collateral to make sure the lienholder is paid.  In Virginia, mechanics liens are given a higher priority than other forms of secured debt.

An experienced Virginia real estate attorney can advise you how to determine whether a property is affected by mechanic’s liens and, if so, how to proceed.

What is zoning?

Zoning is governmental control over the use of real estate.  Local, state, or federal governments can assert the control, but it is usually exercised by local governments.  Zoning can encompass issues such as land use, building specifications, and environmental impact.

In real estate transactions, it is essential to understand the applicable zoning laws for the specific property and how that property will be affected.  A Virginia real estate attorney can provide this information and advise you on any impact that these zoning regulations may have on the property.  Additionally, if there is a desire to deviate from the zoning regulations, an experienced Charlottesville real estate attorney can explain and guide you through the process.

What is a restrictive covenant?

Basically, a restrictive covenant is a promise by a property owner to do, or refrain from doing, certain things on the property.  Once memorialized and recorded, a restrictive covenant imposes restrictions or conditions on real property.  Its purpose is often to promote the use and enjoyment of the land by the owner as well as neighboring landowners.

There are different types of restrictive covenants.  Some only apply to the current owners, whereas others attach to the property and continue to apply regardless of the identity of the landowner.

Restrictive covenants can have very significant impacts on real property.  Thus, it is important to have the counsel of an experienced real estate attorney who can investigate the nature and extent of any restrictive covenant and explain to you its impact on your use of the property.

Contact Our Virginia Lawyers

We serve clients throughout Virginia — from Charlottesville and Central Virginia to metropolitan Richmond; Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke; and the cities of Hampton Roads to the Northern Virginia cities of  Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington.

To speak with one of our attorneys, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

Our Virginia personal injury lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. also have a statewide practice and offer free consultations at a time and location that is convenient for you.  We will gladly meet with you at your home or at the hospital, even on nights and weekends.

To schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

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