Real Estate

The Top Legal Issues Real Estate Lawyers Can Help You Avoid

The Top Legal Issues Real Estate Lawyers Can Help You Avoid
Written by
  • Ashley Howard
| 16 June 2023
Reviewed, 16 June 2023
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    When it comes to real estate transactions, having a skilled lawyer or notary by your side can make all the difference. Real estate lawyers specialize in navigating the complex legal landscape of buying or selling property and can help you avoid costly mistakes and disputes. From drafting contracts and negotiating terms to ensuring compliance with zoning laws and regulations, a good real estate lawyer can be an invaluable asset throughout the entire process. 

    In this article, we’ll explore some of the top legal issues real estate lawyers can help you avoid, including title defects, zoning violations, and disputes with neighbours or other parties involved in the transaction. 

    Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate investor, working with an experienced lawyer can give you peace of mind and help ensure a successful transaction. Let’s dive in!

    Key Takeaways

    • Real estate lawyers specialize in navigating the complex legal landscape of buying or selling property.
    • Working with an experienced and knowledgeable real estate lawyer can help avoid costly mistakes or issues.
    • Tips for finding the right real estate lawyer include getting referrals from friends and family and checking online reviews.

    Common Legal Issues In Real Estate

    Real estate transactions can involve many legal issues, but some are more common. One of the most common legal issues in real estate is title defects. A title defect is an issue that affects property ownership, such as outstanding liens or judgments, undisclosed heirs or former owners, or errors in public records. Title defects can be challenging to identify, and they can cause serious problems down the line if they’re not addressed before closing. Real estate lawyers or notaries can help you identify and resolve title defects, ensuring you have a clear title to the property you buy or sell.

    Another common legal issue in real estate is zoning and land-use violations. Zoning laws are complex and can vary from one jurisdiction to another. Zoning violations can include building code violations, improper land use, or failure to obtain proper permits. Violations can result in fines, penalties, or even property loss. Real estate lawyers can help you navigate zoning laws and ensure that you’re in compliance with all regulations.

    Benefits Of Hiring A Real Estate Lawyer

    There are many benefits to hiring a real estate lawyer. Real estate transactions are complicated and can be challenging to navigate without the help of an experienced lawyer. Here are just a few of the benefits of hiring a real estate lawyer:

    Legal Expertise

    Real estate lawyers have the legal expertise to navigate the complex legal landscape of property transactions. They can help you identify and resolve legal issues that could jeopardize your transaction’s success.

    Contract Drafting And Negotiation

    Real estate lawyers can help you draft and negotiate contracts that protect your interests and ensure the transaction is legally sound. They can also negotiate terms with other parties involved in the transaction, such as lenders, agents, or inspectors.

    Dispute Resolution

    Real estate transactions can be contentious, and disputes can arise at any stage. Real estate lawyers are skilled in dispute resolution and can help you resolve conflicts with other parties involved.

    How To Find The Right Real Estate Lawyer For Your Needs

    Finding the right real estate lawyer is essential to ensuring a successful transaction. Here are some tips for doing your due diligence and finding the right lawyer for your needs:

    Referrals

    Ask friends, family members, or colleagues for referrals to real estate lawyers they’ve worked with and had a positive experience with. 

    Online Reviews

    Check online reviews of real estate lawyers in your area. Look for lawyers with positive reviews and a track record of success.

    Experience

    Choose a lawyer with experience in real estate law. An experienced lawyer will have the legal expertise necessary to navigate complex legal issues that may arise during your transaction.

    Vetting

    It may be prudent to vet potential lawyers on your province’s law society directory and check that their credentials are still intact and no disciplinary actions are in place against their practice.

    Legal Issues With Property Titles And Ownership

    Legal issues with property titles and ownership can be particularly challenging. Here are some common issues:

    Liens And Judgments

    Liens and judgments can affect the ownership of a property. These could include unpaid mortgages, property taxes, utilities or any other outstanding debts from previous owners that wouldn’t appear on the property’s title. Real estate lawyers can help you identify and resolve these issues before closing.

    Undisclosed Heirs Or Former Owners

    Undisclosed heirs or former owners can also affect ownership. Real estate lawyers can help ensure you have a clear title to the property you buy or sell.

    Boundary Disputes

    Boundary disputes can arise when there’s a disagreement about the property’s boundaries. Real estate lawyers can help you resolve boundary disputes and ensure a clear property title.

    Zoning And Land-Use Legal Issues

    Zoning and land-use legal issues are complex and can vary from one jurisdiction to another. These could include easements or municipal bylaws that could restrict the use of the property. 

    Restrictive covenants are another issue that real estate lawyers can uncover, which could restrict what you are allowed to do with the property, such as limiting what modifications you can do to the home (heritage easements) or even restrictions on renting out the property short-term.  

    Environmental Legal Issues In Real Estate

    Environmental legal issues can be particularly challenging to navigate. Here are some common issues:

    Hazardous Waste

    Hazardous waste can be present on a property, which can be challenging to identify and remediate. Real estate lawyers can help you navigate these issues if they arise during the due diligence process. An environmental assessment may be necessary to determine the level of contamination. These can include:

    • Situations where the property has been used for waste disposal 
    • Previous spills of contaminants on the property
    • Storage of hazardous materials on the property

    Wetlands And Endangered Species

    Wetlands and endangered species can be present on a property, and navigating the legal issues related to these areas can be challenging. Regulations covering wetlands can have significant land-use restrictions, and hefty fines could be levied for not obtaining proper conservation authorities’ permission before altering the property. 

    Real Estate Litigation And Dispute Resolution

    Real estate transactions can be contentious, and disputes can arise at any stage. Real estate lawyers are skilled in dispute resolution and can help you resolve conflicts. If litigation is necessary, real estate lawyers can protect your rights and interests.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do I need a real estate lawyer or a notary?

    A lawyer or notary is required as the impartial representative to both the borrower’s and lender’s interests. They can help you navigate the complex legal jargon in documents, review the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, and ensure there are no claims or liens on the property, among many other things that would be difficult to navigate without one.

    What are some top things to look for in a real estate lawyer or a notary?

    Some top things to look for in a real estate lawyer include how long they have been in the industry, their knowledge of local laws, and reviews from past clients.

    What are the benefits of working with a real estate lawyer or a notary?

    Working with a real estate lawyer saves you time, money, and legal troubles if issues arise during the transaction.

    Final Thoughts

    Real estate transactions are complex and involve many legal issues that can be challenging to navigate on your own without the help of an experienced lawyer. Real estate lawyers and notaries can help you avoid costly mistakes and protect your rights and interests. If you’re buying or selling property, work with an experienced real estate lawyer to ensure a successful, stress-free transaction.