While many types of transactions are completed without the assistance of an attorney, real estate transactions should not be one of them. Although in basic principle they are simply a purchase and sale, there are numerous complications that could arise to derail a deal or cause significant economic losses.
It is common for bad titles to be passed without the seller even being aware. A previous mortgage may not have been recorded properly, an old boundary dispute may be unresolved, or a previous seller may have sold partial rights to the property. To avoid protracted and expensive litigation, a full title search should be conducted prior to the purchase of any property.
Easements are special grants of rights to limited use of a property. These include easements for wiring, plumbing, and sidewalks along the side of the road. Other easements may include an access driveway to a landlocked property or use of a portion of the land. In a real estate transaction, easements remain with the property even after a sale. The buyer must either accept the easement or negotiate to buy back the rights from the easement holder.
Zoning issues arise primarily in commercial deals although they can also affect a residential deal where the buyer intends to change the building density. Local zoning laws should always be checked even if an identical business is already using the property; they may not be in compliance with the law. If zoning changes are required, these should be fully secured prior to the transaction taking place, or an appropriate contingency clause should be added to the real estate contract.