Services & Programs

Real Estate Transactions

Whether you are purchasing, selling or otherwise involved in the conveyance of real property located in Florida, North Carolina or South Carolina, we can assist you in navigating the legal pitfalls and privileges associated with these transactions. We focus our practice on the geographic areas of Orange (Orlando / Windermere), Seminole (Sanford / Lake Mary / Heathrow / Longwood / Casselberry), Volusia (Deland / Debary / Daytona Beach), Brevard (Cocoa Beach / Merritt Island), Osceola (Kissimmee / Champions Gate), Polk (Davenport / Haines City) and Lake (Clermont / Mount Dora / Eustis / Tavares) Counties in Florida. Also, we spend a significant amount of time representing buyers and sellers in North Carolina, especially Western North Carolina (including Asheville), and Eastern North Carolina along the coast, and in the coastal areas of South Carolina (including Hilton Head, Charleston and Myrtle Beach) in the purchase and sale of timeshare and other vacation ownership products.

Closing, Settlement, or Escrow Services

In real estate conveyances, we are called upon often by clients from the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada and other foreign countries when they are purchasing or selling their vacation villa or villas in Florida, regardless of where they are located. Likewise, we often represent sellers and buyers who are engaged in a "For Sale by Owner" transaction, where no REALTOR is involved in the closing. There are many issues that can arise in such transactions, including contract disputes and misinterpretations, tax (including Capital Gains and Foreign Investment In Real Property [FIRPTA]) questions, and escrow disputes. While we advise all of our clients to use the services of a real estate broker in their transaction to handle the direct negotiation of the contract and coordinate the inspections of the property, we strongly suggest that you engage us to draft or review the contract and any addenda to it.

If you engage our firm to represent you in the sale or purchase of real property, we will draft the contract if it is not prepared already. Our goal is to assist you in completing the transaction to the end you desire without falling into a trap of fraud or the other myriad of legal mistakes that laymen often fall into during such transactions. If you are working with a REALTOR, we will work closely with the REALTOR to ensure the transaction is reviewed and that the documents correctly and accurately reflect the transaction you have bargained for.

If the contract is already prepared, we will review it for potential problems and draft addenda to clarify those issues to prevent later disputes. We will work with the title company or closing attorney who is handling the settlement of the transaction to ensure that they abide by the terms of the contract. We will review all documents to be executed by you at closing as well as all documents related to the collection and disbursement of funds. We will review the conveyance documents, including the deed and bill of sale, to ensure they properly reflect the terms of the transaction. We will review the survey of the property, if applicable, and we will review your loan documentation (if you are the buyer). We will summarize your loan terms and any rules and regulations related to the future use of the property. We will also review the title insurance commitment and any exceptions to the coverage to be provided.

We also may suggest inspectors to use for the home inspection and termite inspection. For commercial property purchases, we also will work closely with the environmental inspectors for the Phase I Environmental Assessment, as well as any other geotechnical, ecological, wetlands, or other impact inspectors to ensure that your intended use of the property will be permitted and feasible.

After closing, we will follow up with you and the closing agent to ensure that you receive copies of your final executed documentation. If possible, we will provide a copy of your executed documents in electronic format for your future ease of retrieval and review.

The Florida Bar has published a pamphlet on buying a home in Florida. Also, Attorneys' Title Insurance Fund has established a great website for more information on this topic.

Lender Representation

We represent hard money lenders, private lenders and institutional lenders in the drafting of loan documents and generally representing the lender to ensure that their funds are secured by the borrower's real property and other collateral. We often draft mortgage spreader, modification and cross-collateralization agreements to assist lenders in working out troubled loans.

Development and Commercial Acquisitions

We often represent buyers, sellers and developers of large tracts of land for subdivisions, condominium projects, apartment buildings, duplexes, hotels, motels, and timeshare resorts. We have represented buyers and sellers in the purchase and sale of hotels, motels, resorts, office / warehouse projects, restaurants and many other types of income-producing properties.

IRC Section 1031 Exchanges

Many real estate investor clients desire to delay the payment of capital gains taxes on the sale of their income-producing property. If they have held the property for investment for a sufficient amount of time, then they may be eligible for the exchange. We work with qualified intermediaries from across the country to assist our clients with such exchanges, including reverse exchanges. These intermediaries receive and hold the funds from the sale of the exchanged property and then release it to the closing agent for the acquisition of replacement property. By using an independent intermediary, we are free to advise our clients completely regarding the timeframes and documentation related to the exchange to ensure they are fully aware of the implications and benefits of such an exchange.

Florida Land Trusts

Asset protection is very important to most active real estate investors. An important component in any good asset protection plan for a real estate investor is the Florida Land Trust. Such trusts are authorized by the Florida Land Trust Statute found in section 689.071 of the Florida Statutes. Under this statute, if specific language is included in the deed that conveys the property into the trustee, and there is a proper trust, then there is no reason anyone should ever have reason to review the trust agreement itself. If third parties have no reason to review the trust agreement, then they will not know the identity of the beneficiaries (the owners) of the trust itself. This means that a real estate investor can use an unrelated third party to act as a trustee of the property, and only the trustee's name will appear on public records. When an asset search is conducted, the real estate investor will appear to own nothing. Further, by placing each property into its own separate trust, the real estate investor can effectively isolate each property from the judgments and other liabilities associated with the investor's other properties, including code enforcement liens.

The land trust also provides ease of tranfer of ownership, privately, since the beneficiary is free to convey the interest in the trust to another party with simply one or two documents. While documentary stamp taxes must be paid on such transfers, they are often much cheaper than full closings that involve the transfer of the title to the property via a deed. Further, the purchase price of the beneficial interest will not appear on the tax records. While a report will be made to the county's property tax appraiser regarding the transfer of the beneficial interest, this report will not be made public.

Finally, the land trust facilitates management of the property when there are multiple owners, while avoiding the possibility of partition by one of the co-owners. One beneficiary may be given the "power of direction" over the trustee. Therefore, while there may be multiple owners of the trust, the trustee will only answer to one who holds the power of direction, and that one will answer to the beneficiaries.

There are many advantages and some pitfalls to using land trusts that are too numerous to cover in this website. However, if you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.