The Kreis Enderle team of experienced Real Estate attorneys handles all aspects of Real Estate law. We can help you work through a broad range of Real Estate needs, including:
- Purchase & Sale Agreements
- Real Estate Due Diligence, Including Environmental Studies and Survey Issues
- Real Estate Construction and Development
- Real Estate Financing and Lending
- Zoning and Land Use
- Title Insurance & Quiet Title Litigation
- Adverse Possession
- Mortgage Foreclosure
- Condemnation and Eminent Domain Proceedings
- Real Estate Litigation
Do I need an attorney to represent me when buying or selling real estate?
It depends. In Michigan, it is common for real estate transactions to occur through real estate brokers, without attorneys. Brokers typically bring buyers and sellers together and use form contracts with assistance from a local title insurance company to close and insure the transaction. That process does not always allow for adequate buyer/seller protection.
Does a buyer need title insurance, and who pays for title insurance?
Yes, the buyer absolutely needs title insurance. Title insurance shows the buyer the current status of the real estate ownership, and is intended to protect the real estate owner against anyone who might later claim rights to own, use or possess the property. Title insurance is crucial when buying any real estate, and experienced real estate attorneys are paid to read and analyze the title insurance commitment and to investigate all interests in the property (such as easements, land use restrictions, and any mortgages or other financial encumbrances which impact ownership). Unless someone reads and understands the title insurance policy the buyer may not know what their rights to ownership are. Just because you have title insurance does not mean that you hold “clean” or “marketable” title. In Michigan, title insurance is generally paid for by the seller.
Do I need a survey?
Surveys are often not obtained on residential transactions, and should always be obtained and updated on commercial transactions. Even in residential transactions, particularly on transactions involving lakefront real estate, shared driveways, or generally high priced transactions, surveys are extremely important. Only through obtaining a survey will you see exactly where your real estate and improvements (e.g., buildings, homes, etc.) set. This is important when trying to discern exactly how much property you own, and whether or not the improvements were built in accordance with governing setback and other zoning requirements. Often, an already existing survey can be used as starting point, with updates as necessary to show current status of survey. Surveys let you know if boundary lines are located where you think they are, and can be used to determine whether one party is using property that they do not own.
Do I need to worry about zoning or land use restrictions?
Yes. As a buyer, you need to make sure that real estate may be used for whatever intended purposes you had in mind and that no restrictions will prohibit such use. Even residential properties may be under restrictions as to what you can and cannot do on the property. Restrictions may inhibit your ability to build a fence or a shed, or rent your property as a weekly vacation rental.
Could I be liable if my commercial property is environmentally contaminated?
Yes. Conducting environment due diligence is crucial. This helps you understand any environmental issues, applicable to your property, and can protect you, as an owner, from later being held responsible for existing environmental contamination.
Who pays the property taxes when property is sold?
Property taxes are generally prorated (shared) between the buyer and seller, for the year in which closing occurs, based on how long each party owned the property. This issue applies to real property taxes, personal property taxes, and related water, sewer, and utility charges. It is important to obtain final bills for all expenses so that they can be split and shown on the closing statement signed by buyer and seller at closing.
What if someone else is using my property without my permission?
This question is tied closely to the second and third questions above regarding both title and survey. If you think someone is using your property, you need to first be sure that it is, in fact, your property (via survey or otherwise), and make sure the other person does not have the right to the use (they may be utilizing rights under an easement or other document recorded with the county Register of Deeds). You should contact an experienced real estate attorney.