The Elderkin Law Firm's Real Estate Group represents a diverse group of clients. Whether individuals or small businesses, non-profit organizations or municipalities, mortgage banks, or major financial institutions, our real estate attorneys handle a wide variety of commercial and residential real estate matters. We can help you with any real estate matter, from simple to sophisticated, including all aspects of acquisition, financing, management, maintenance, sale and leasing, as well as residential and commercial development projects, finance issues, tax assessment appeals, land use and zoning, environmental, leasing, and mortgage lending.
We represent clients in all facets of the acquisition, financing, leasing, maintenance and sale of real estate. We represent buyers, sellers, and financial institutions in the real estate purchase and sale process and we have extensive experience in drafting, negotiating and resolving easements, restrictive covenants, and boundary disputes.
|We represent both landlords and tenants in all aspects of residential and commercial leasing.|
|We counsel clients in acquiring, developing and financing commercial properties, including office and apartment buildings, telecommunications facilities, manufacturing facilities and industrial parks.|
|We have negotiated and drafted construction contracts and subcontracts for both small and large commercial construction projects. We represent both developers and institutional lenders in construction loan financing.|
|The Firm assists clients in land development issues, from acquisition through subdivision development and zoning.|
Planned Communities, Condominiums & Condominium/Homeowner Associations:
|We assist and advise clients in creating, converting and/or forming planned unit communities and residential and commercial condominiums and in establishing unit, condominium and/or homeowner associations and related governance issues|
|Our real estate attorneys have substantial experience in all aspects of real estate taxation, including Pennsylvania realty transfer tax, gift tax, capital gains tax and §1031 like-kind exchanges.|
|We represent and advise individual property owners, development companies, non-profit corporations and municipalities on all issues of zoning and land use law including local agency law and appellate practice.|
|We advise hundreds of clients per year in the purchase, financing, sale, construction and refinancing of residential real estate.|
|Our Firm has a broad background in all phases of real estate title work including examination, certification and related proceedings and litigation. We are agents and/or approved attorneys for Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company, First American Title Insurance Company and Penn Attorneys Title Insurance Company.|
|Our clients include institutional lenders in residential and commercial acquisitions, construction improvement and refinancing|
|We represent a variety of residential and commercial clients in land use, zoning and tax assessment appeals..|
A lot of times an agreement to purchase real estate will be prepared by a realtor on a "standard" form. If you’ve been presented with such an agreement, but not yet signed it, it’s a good idea to review it with your attorney first. An experienced real estate attorney can point out provisions in addition to the "standard" ones that may be helpful to you, and can protect your interests based upon your unique factual circumstances.
If you’ve already signed the agreement, your next step would be to contact your attorney so that he or she can begin the next steps toward closing. If you are the buyer, your attorney will begin doing what we call "title work" — performing a title search on the property, to make sure you’re buying exactly what you think you’re buying, and that you’re going to take ownership of that property free and clear of any kind of liens or other encumbrances. If you are the seller of the property, than your attorney will help you in preparing a deed so that you can transfer ownership to the buyer.
The sooner you get your attorney involved in the process, the more smoothly your closing will go.
Do I need a lawyer when purchasing real estate in Pennsylvania?
Although there's no legal requirement that you use an attorney when purchasing real estate in Pennsylvania, it's a very good idea to do so, even in "simple" transactions. Among other critical things, your attorney will review the chain of title for your property to ensure that it is not subject to any liens, mortgages, judgments or any other defects that could create problems for you as the new owner. Your attorney will also be present with you at the closing, so that if any matters come up at that time, they can be handled with efficiency and finality.
Real estate matters can be deceiving, because many title problems can be "hidden", and not become apparent until after you have purchased the property. Early consultation with an experienced real estate attorney can ensure that these matters are addressed and corrected by the seller at the outset, before they become problems affecting the title to your new property.
Is it necessary that I attend the closing?
It is not always necessary for you to attend your closing. For example, it's not unusual for sellers of real estate to be able to sign the necessary documents in advance of closing. For buyers, and especially buyers who are borrowing money from a bank, they will more likely be required to attend the closing in order to sign the many documents that are necessary to secure the financing necessary for the closng. In special cases, even a buyer may be able to designate a representative with power of attorney, who could sign on their behalf. You would need to consult with both your attorney and the bank to determine whether you would need to be attend the closing in any particular case.
Is there anything I should do before purchasing a property or a land?
Before you consider purchasing property or land in Pennsylvania, it's a good idea to consult with a seasoned real estate attorney at the earliest opportunity. An attorney will be able to assist you in either preparing or reviewing a real estate sales agreement (often called "articles of agreement") to make sure that your interests, as a buyer, are protected. There are many considerations important to a purchaser of real estate that may not occur to you, or even your realtor, prior to closing in any particular case. An experienced attorney will be able to review your circumstances with you, and address these considerations.
Once you have a signed agreement, your attorney will perform a title search, review the chain of title for the property and be able to certify to you that the property that you are buying is free and clear of any mortgages, liens, judgments or any other defects that might cause you problems down the road. For these reasons, it's very important that you consult with a seasoned real estate attorney to help you through the process.
Should I purchase a home warranty?
Home warranties are agreements that are often included in real estate transactions to cover defects or problems with appliances and certain other conditions in your new home. The terms of these home warranties can vary widely, and you would need to review the particular details of the warranty in question to make sure that the cost of the warranty is justified by nature and extent of the coverage it provides. Your real estate attorney can help you decide whether any particular warranty is a good deal for you.
I'm considering selling my property; who should I contact?
When considering selling your property, a homeowner, or property owner, will typically deal with a couple of different professionals. The first is a real estate agent who may assist them in listing the property for sale. Most realtors are able to place your property on a "multi-list", which is a list of properties that are for sale that is circulated to all realtors and other real estate professionals. This listing gets the information about your property out to a broad range of people, including potential buyers or their agents. In addition to a realtor, sellers should consult with a real estate attorney, who can assist them preparing the contract for sale, if necessary, and in preparing a deed to effectively transfer that property to a buyer once you've located a buyer. The attorney will also attend the closing to address any last-minute problems that might arise.
What is the difference between foreclosure and a short sale?
A foreclosure is a type of legal action that a lending institution, such as a bank, can take if a borrower has defaulted under a loan agreement. If you have a mortgage loan on your property and you default by failing to make payments, or perhaps failing to pay your taxes or insurance, the lending bank may file a lawsuit against you called a mortgage foreclosure action. You may or may not have the right to defend that lawsuit, depending on the nature of your default and what your mortgage documents say. If the bank succeeds in obtaining a judgment against the property owner in the mortgage foreclosure action, the bank can then ask the county sheriff to have the property sold in a public sale, and the proceeds of that sale will be used to help satisfy the outstanding balance owed to the bank.
A short sale also involves a party who owns property with a mortgage loan, who is either in default or at risk of default. The short sale involves the principle that half a loaf is better than no loaf at all. In a short sale, the bank agrees to allow you to sell the property for less that the amount due on the mortgage ("short" of that amount), with the bank taking all of the proceeds of the sale in satisfaction of its interest in the property. This saves the bank from having to go through the mortgage foreclosure and sale process, which can sometimes take a lot of time and cost the bank more than it may want to pay.
If I have inherited property, what should I do next?
If you've inherited, or received notice that you've inherited, real estate under somebody's will, you would first want to contact the attorney who is representing the estate of the individual who has left you the property to determine the manner in which they intend to transfer ownership of that property to you. Once you've learned from that estate attorney how they propose to distribute that property, you should consult with your own real estate attorney to ensure that the transfer is being handled properly, and that the ultimate deed that you'll receive is a valid deed that effectively transfers all of the interest and real estate that you're entitled to under the decedent's estate.
What kind of real estate experience does Elderkin Law Firm have?
The attorneys at the Elderkin Law Firm have a wide range of experience in all aspects of real estate practice. We represent both buyers and sellers in both residential (home) and commercial (business) transactions. We also represent many local lending institutions, handling both commercial and residential loans. We have two licensed Pennsylvania title agents on staff, each of whom are authorized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to review and certify titles and to sell title insurance, which is often required when you're purchasing real estate with a loan from a commercial lender (such as a bank). At Elderkin, we have the experience to assist you in your real estate matter, from the smallest residential closing to the largest commercial transaction.
As a first time buyer, is it even necessary to have a realtor?
It's not necessary, but it may be helpful.
Typically, if a realtor is involved, it's because the property has been listed by the seller with a real estate agent. That agent would be the party who is responsible for publishing notice of the property being for sale. If you see the "For Sale" sign in the front yard, this is typically the listing (selling) agent's job. That agent lists the property for sale, and publishes the list to other real estate agents who may represent buyers looking for a similar property. In most such cases, the seller has agreed to pay the listing agent a commission, usually a certain percentage of the sale price, to compensate the realtor for its efforts.
Some buyers will retain their own real estate agents to help them search out properties that meet their desired criteria. If the buyer's realtor helps strike the deal with the listing realtor, in most cases the real estate commission will be divided in some way between the buyer's realtor and the listing seller's realtor. Usually the buyers would not pay anything to the realtor themselves; that money would come from the sellers' proceeds.
If you're not using a realtor, or if a realtor is not involved, it's that much more important that engage your attorney early on, whether you're a buyer or a seller, because that attorney will perform many of the jobs that the realtor would otherwise be performing, such as helping you prepare an agreement, a seller's disclosure statement and other paperwork that would be required to bring a deal to closing.
Many buyers seek financing from a local bank, which will have its own attorney to represent the bank's interest at the closing. Sometimes, those banks will suggest or recommend to the buyers that they use the same attorney as the bank. It's important to understand that as a buyer, you always have the right to use your own attorney; you may have the attorney of your choice represent you in buying your home. Some banks can be more aggressive than others in suggesting that you use their attorney of choice, but it's important that individuals understand that they always have the right to have the attorney they choose represent their specific interests in the transaction, rather than the bank's attorney.