March 22nd, 2024

Secure Deals and Prevent Pitfalls: The Essential Role of Real Estate Attorneys

Real estate transactions involve a myriad of legal intricacies that can confuse even the savviest investors. Subsequently, many entities and individuals hire real estate attorneys to advocate for their interests and ensure deal terms are favorable, legally sound, compliant, and hassle-free.

Investors who manage transactions on their own can unwittingly invite unfortunate outcomes. For example, overlooked legal issues during the title examination process — including liens, restrictive covenants, or gaps in ownership — can result in costly litigation post-transaction; similarly, errors in the transfer of property deeds can lead to unfortunate tax implications for buyers and sellers.

The Real Estate Attorneys at Gross McGinley, LLP are equipped to assist clients with various issues involved in commercial and residential real estate transactions, including title insurance and title review, due diligence, leasing, financing, and more.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, investing in legal counsel at the outset of a real estate deal often delivers higher ROI than investors could achieve — even after legal fees. Because real estate attorneys are skilled and well-versed in dealing with the complexities of these transactions, they’re able to prevent expensive mistakes, planning errors, and unnecessary litigation while negotiating the most favorable and expedient terms possible for their clients.


Title Examination and Insurance Policies

When real estate attorneys conduct title examinations, they’re executing a thorough investigation into a property’s legal history to confirm ownership rights and identify potential issues or claims; this involves reviewing a high volume of complex documents, such as deeds, earnest money contracts, promissory notes, deeds of trust (for the lender), and closing documents.

As a safeguard, attorneys can assist in obtaining title insurance policies to protect buyers and lenders from unforeseen claims or defects in the property’s title; they’ll also review policy terms and explain coverage details. If other problems surface during the transaction cycle, such as boundary disputes or outstanding liens, attorneys are equipped to navigate these complexities and protect their client’s interests. When an investor who lacks legal counsel discovers a title problem that’s preventing the completion of a transaction, hiring a real estate attorney is paramount.


Commercial Real Estate Considerations

For investors involved in commercial real estate, the standard Pennsylvania Association of Realtors agreement of sale may not fit the needs of the deal transaction. Attorneys can negotiate and draft customized agreements for commercial properties that ensure terms like due diligence, escrow, and environmental considerations are clear and legally sound for their clients. Furthermore, purchasing commercial property usually means there’s commercial leasing involved. In the case of lease disputes or breaches, attorneys can provide legal representation to resolve conflicts through negotiation, mediation, or litigation.

Investors should feel confident that their attorney-prepared commercial lease agreements adhere to all relevant compliance requirements, such as tenant rights, landlord obligations, and property use restrictions.

Real estate attorneys can also offer valuable advice on property management issues specific to commercial leasing, such as lease options/renewals, rent escalations, subleasing arrangements, and compliance with building codes. Successfully managing these requirements minimizes risk while maximizing profitability.

Commercial real estate financing often involves obtaining loans secured by collateral for business-related properties through various lenders. Real estate attorneys can help investors navigate loan types, qualification criteria, terms and rates negotiations, and fee considerations. They can also assist with loan documentation, such as promissory notes, loan agreements, deeds of trust or mortgage, assignment of leases and rents, security agreements, UCC-1 financing statements, environmental indemnity agreements, and guarantees.


Zoning Matters

Real estate attorneys play a vital role in assisting with zoning matters during the due diligence period. Typically, this process starts with a thorough review of local zoning ordinances, prior zoning approvals, and compliance requirements.

When it comes to land-use assessments, attorneys work with engineers and planners to ensure that the investor’s development plans align with local zoning regulations; they can also assist with negotiating terms related to land use and zoning requirements to protect the investor’s interests.

Because they are experienced and skilled in identifying red flags related to land use, zoning, and compliance, investors can be confident that any issues, discrepancies, or other concerns will be addressed before the transaction is completed.


Contact a Real Estate Attorney in Pennsylvania

The real estate industry is complicated. Property matters include development, selling, and management at commercial, industrial, and residential levels. Although our real estate attorneys can’t control industry fluctuations, we can support and advise our clients on their unique real estate transactions and diverse portfolios.

No matter what role you have in the industry — agent, broker, developer, individual, investor, lender, or realtor — our team can provide counsel on financing, land development, leases, options and exchanges, purchases and sales of single and multiple-property portfolios, title insurance, and zoning.


The content found in this resource is for informational reference use only and is not considered legal advice. Laws at all levels of government change frequently and the information found here may be or become outdated. It is recommended to consult your attorney for the most up-to-date information regarding current laws and legal matters.