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Real estate law accounts for a wide range of disciplines on the federal, state and local level, and includes commercial and residential properties. Real Estate law also, directly and indirectly, impacts landlords and tenants and home buyers and sellers.

Real estate law (in its simplest context) are the rules that govern how the use and designation of specific parcels of land. It is important to remember that real estate law is not limited only to the purchase and sale of real property. Real property laws also dictate the use of the structure on the land, the materials that can be used, and who can use them. The following are just some of the areas of practice for a real estate attorney:

Buying or selling a home

The Federal (and State) government governs the rules of buying and selling a home. These laws protect a buyer from sellers who might try and misrepresent the property but also protect the environment in which the property is located from a buyer who wants to make changes to the property that can damage the land or the natural environment.

Landlord and tenant laws

Property laws govern the rules of leasing apartments and finding tenants for these properties. Most states (and some cities) have unique rules and regulations as such relate to landlords and tenants. Most states (Illinois is one of them and particularly in Chicago) provide tenants with a very vast array of rights as such relate to the habitability of property and rules imposed on landlords, as well as recourse for tenants against their landlords for violations that occur during the tenants lease.

Foreclosures

Real estate law dictates how foreclosures are processed. The foreclosure process is impacted by several federal real estate laws (as well as the contractual conditions set forth in the underlying mortgage) that include financial and administrative implications.

Title and boundary disputes

Property laws govern these disputes and determine who owns a property and where the property boundaries are located. These disputes are very common and can impact the housing association and the community at large depending on the magnitude of the boundary dispute.

Property taxes

Property taxes are governed by how much a homeowner pays in local property taxes in their city or township. Property taxes vary from each municipality and county. Each county uses several different factors in evaluating the amount of property taxes that are assessed on a particular parcel. Some of the factors include, the age of the property, the presence of improved structures on the property, the size of the property, the presence of water (i.e. is the parcel on a lake, which can increase the tax basis of the parcel); different features of the improved structures on the property and what the county considers to be “livable space.” While these are just some of the factors that are taken into consideration, each factor can have an impact on a homeowner’s property tax value.  

Real estate attorneys address legal matters relating to real property. Hiring a real estate attorney can be an advantage for a home or property owner. An attorney can review the transaction history and title of the property to ensure that the owner has the ability to sell the property and that there are not historical title issues that need to be corrected.

However, not all jurisdictions allow for attorneys to assist buyers and sellers with a real estate transaction. Some states do not permit attorneys to handle real estate transactions and both the Buyer(s) and Seller(s). Some states only allow the attorney to prepare home purchase agreements while other states have no stipulations on how involved the attorney can be in your particular transaction. It is always imperative to speak with your real estate agent to see who they recommend (many agents have attorneys that they work with frequently and trust them) to assist you with your particular transaction.  

If you are considering hiring a real estate attorney, it is important to know how they can help you in your real estate endeavors. Some real estate attorneys will charge an hourly fee for their services while some will charge a flat fee for their services. For more information, please contact Steven A. Miner II at The Miner Firm.