Common Real Estate Disputes
The Top 4 Real Estate Disputes and Solutions
Purchasing and selling real estate assets can be very exciting. However, it requires not only a base knowledge of how a two-party transaction works but also the guidance of experienced professionals throughout. With any business transaction, differences of opinion and misperceptions can lead to conflict at any phase of the process. When legal disputes arise, your professionals will step in to explain client concerns and negotiate positive resolutions. Let’s take a look at a few common real estate disputes and the typical path towards resolution.
1. Breach of Contract
Once a contract for the sale/purchase of real estate is signed by Buyer and Seller, the terms are typically deemed binding unless modified and agreed to in writing by both parties and pursuant to any applicable State-specific practices and procedures, such as an attorney review period. Subsequent modifications are typically handled via an attorney’s letter addendum or a more formal amendment to the contract. Once finalized and binding, should either party fail to perform or willfully attempt to breach that binding contract, the other party typically has recourse under the contract itself, and may seek to enforce the terms agreed to by the parties. As with any dispute throughout the entire process, our attorneys are available to analyze the extent of the breach and propose creative solutions to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible in our clients’ best interests.
2. Undisclosed Issues with the Property
At the time a contract offer is being negotiated, it is the obligation of the Seller to disclose any property condition issues, or defects, that were taken into account when setting the asking price. A Buyer has the opportunity to learn of known and visible property condition issues via their initial walk-through prior to making an offer, as well as by reviewing a completed Seller’s Disclosure Statement. The Buyer’s offer amount should take into account the value or cost to address all known issues at that time. Once the contract is binding, the Buyer will be given an opportunity to complete their due diligence with a home inspection professional who will conduct a full on-site inspection to further evaluate the property’s condition and provide a detailed written report to the Buyer. The professional home inspection is crucial, as it typically covers ground that the Buyer’s simple walk-through wouldn’t include, such as the condition of the roof, tests of the heating and cooling systems, and other structural evaluations beyond the knowledge or experience of most homeowners. Should it be determined that full disclosure was not given by Seller initially, the information presented in the inspection report will be of utmost importance when attempting to resolve the discrepancy. In the event that a failure to disclose is discovered only after the parties have closed on the transaction, you will most like want to consult with members of our real estate and litigation teams for a recommended course of action.
3. Property Repairs
Upon completion of inspections within the contingency timelines, a Buyer may raise concerns and request repairs be made by Seller. In some instances, a Buyer will request a credit at closing in lieu of repairs, which they can use to hire their own preferred contractors at their convenience. Should the parties agree that the Seller will complete certain requested repairs, it is important that those engaged to perform the repairs be licensed in their field so as to insure that the repair is completed properly and, depending on the nature of the repair, insurable by your homeowner’s insurance company. There are instances wherein Seller’s repair attempts are not acceptable to Buyer or have caused further damage to the property. In all cases, negotiations relating to inspection concerns, disputes, and remedies should be confirmed in writing between each party’s legal representation so that Buyer and Seller are clear as to what is being addressed and in what manner.
4. Problems With Zoning
Zoning/Usage concerns should be researched prior to entering into a contract for purchase. A Buyer should confirm that their intended use for the property is permitted pursuant to local State zoning regulations. This is especially important when a potential Buyer is looking to build on vacant land or expand an existing structure. In addition, if seeking a property for use in a business that will have customers or clients coming to your home, you must confirm that such use is permitted under your town’s zoning laws. Consulting with the real estate legal team at FSKS allows you to cross your T’s and dot your I’s prior to your entering into a binding contract that may not meet all of your needs.
Our Real Estate Attorneys are at Your Service
Purchasing or selling real estate can be extremely exciting, potentially opening up whole new worlds for both parties to the transaction. Unfortunately, disputes during the negotiations are all too common, and if not handled property, they can escalate into significant legal conflicts that jeopardize the contract and/or value of the property. There is no reason for you to tackle any real estate conflict alone. Our experienced real estate attorneys and staff are here to help with your contract challenges as well as any other legal matters. Give us a call at 973-538-4700 to learn more about our legal services and schedule a consultation. Contact Eric S. Kapnick, Esq. or Jonathan D. Sherman, Esq. to learn more about our Real Estate practice.