Real Estate

The law firm of Laura A. Martinelli, PA has successfully handled hundreds of residential real estate closings throughout the State of Florida. We represent buyers and sellers in connection with all types of residential property, from small condominiums to large single family residences, including country club, ocean front homes, and custom-built luxury estates. Purchasing a home can be a stressful process that often involves complicated legal issues and potential risks for both buyers and sellers. We assist and help our clients through the process, explaining major decisions that have to be made and addressing and avoiding possible risks that can threaten the success of the transaction.

We work closely with the real estate agent, mortgage broker or lender through all phases of the purchase or sale transaction, offer full service title insurance and closing services from contract negotiation through closing.

Real Estate F.A.Q's

Question: Should the Seller and Buyer sign a contract prepared by the real estate agents?

Answer: It depends on whether you have had your attorney review it and discuss it with you first. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying or selling a house and signing a contract on the spot. The problem is, however, that it often results in the parties signing a contract without having an attorney review it. Once a contract is signed by both parties, the Buyer and Seller are legally bound to its terms and it may be too late to use any of the good counsel and advice of your attorney. If time does not permit for this review before signing a contract, then at least include in the contract a provision that it is "subject to Buyer's / Seller's attorney review and approval" within some agreed time period. This will provide the parties with additional time to allow their respective attorneys to review the contract with their client's needs in mind and negotiate the terms if necessary.

Question: Does each party to a real estate transaction pay their own Realtor?

Answer: Usually not. Typically, it is the Seller's responsibility to pay both the listing agent as well as the selling agent, who may be the same party. Realtor commissions are typically 6% to 7% of the sales price.

Question: How early should a Buyer apply for a mortgage when looking for a house?

Answer: It doesn't hurt to meet with lenders, whether it is a bank, mortgage broker or mortgage banker, before you enter into a real estate contract. In fact, educating yourself about the costs of financing a home often may help you determine how much of a house you can afford. Pre-qualifying for a mortgage is also a good idea because (i) Seller's will be more comfortable entering into a contract with a pre-approved Buyer (which may be the "clincher" that "gets you the deal" over a competing buyer) and (ii) standard residential contracts only afford the Buyer approximately 5 days following the execution of the contract in which to apply for a loan and 30 days in which to receive final approval and/or loan commitment from the lender.

Question: Does a Seller have to make all the repairs listed under the Buyer's Inspection Report?

Answer: The terms of the Contract will provide the answer. The Buyer should employ a licensed inspection company to inspect the property and prepare a written inspection report for the parties, and such report must be delivered to the Seller under the time guidelines set in the Contract. Once the Seller receives the inspection report, they are customarily obligated to make non-cosmetic repairs as set forth under the contract. Also, depending on the contract, the Seller may only have to make repairs up to a specific monetary limit and, if the repairs exceed that amount, the Contract will control the parties' rights.

Question: What happens if the parties are not able to close by the closing date in the contract?

Answer: If the contract includes a "time is of the essence" provision, the contract's closing date is a firm one; if not, then a "reasonable" time will be applied. Of course, there are other contract terms that may affect the occurrence and timing of the closing date.

Question: How does a closing take place if any of the parties are out of town on the closing date?

Answer: Closing real estate transactions can be done either in person or by mail away. If either the Buyer or Seller will be out of town on the date of closing, they will need to notify the closing agent as soon as possible so that the closing agent can coordinate any of (i) a pre-closing signing, or (ii) a mail away of the closing documents (including the loan documents).

Question: How can the Seller protect itself and ensure that the Buyer is acting in good faith?

Answer: By taking certain measures at the time the contract is executed . If the Buyer does not need financing to close the transaction, then the contract should not provide a way for the Buyer to opt out for lack of financing. If the Buyer needs a loan, then the Contract should provide that Buyer make application for the loan promptly, provide Seller with proof of application immediately, and diligently pursue the financing. The Contract should require that Buyer place in Deposit an adequate amount of money, and that the Buyer conduct its inspections promptly.

Question: What exactly happens at closing?

Answer: Closing is the process in which title is actually transferred from Seller to Buyer. Seller executes all documents transferring title to the property to Buyer and Buyer signs loan documents, if applicable. Parties should always bring photo identification with them to the closing. Seller must bring all keys, garage door openers and other pertinent information for the Buyer. Buyer must bring the funds necessary to close the transaction by wiring funds prior to closing.

Question: Who pays what at closing?

Answer: The Contract will control who pays costs at closing. However, typically, Buyer is responsible for all costs related to the loan, including bank fees, escrow, if applicable, title insurance for the lender and Buyer (depending on location of property), survey, recording fees for the mortgage and taxes on the mortgage/note, and attorney's fees. Seller is generally responsible for realtor commissions, title searches, transfer taxes on the deed, and its attorneys' fees. Who pays the Buyer's title insurance premiums is often determined by the county in which the property is located.

For answers to any other questions, or for more detailed answers to these questions, please contact our offices to schedule an appointment