real estate law rental contract

Real Estate Transactions Guided By An Experienced Lawyer 

I handle all aspects of residential and commercial real estate transactions for both buyers and sellers, including review or preparation of contracts, leases, financing documents, deed’s and other necessary documents, ordering title searches, survey’s and insurance, and working with lenders on all other requirements for closing.  I also assist with due diligence on commercial real estate purchases. My experienced and attentive staff handles the processing aspects of real estate transactions, but I am always personally accessible to clients, real estate agents, lenders and others who are involved in the process. You can be assured that your transaction will receive my personal attention.

Contracts and Other Documents

Prior to signing a proposed real estate purchase/sale agreement, I recommend having it reviewed by an attorney. I can provide that service in a timely manner. If you are buying or selling real estate without using a real estate agent, I can prepare the purchase/sale agreement and related documents based on the price and other terms that have been negotiated between the parties. 

Selling Real Estate In Virginia Involves An Attorney 

In order to sell real estate in Virginia, you must have a deed prepared by an attorney. The deed and several other necessary documents are usually prepared a short time before closing as soon as I receive the title report from the buyer’s attorney or settlement agent. If any title defects are discovered, we will address them promptly to ensure that closing occurs on time. Finally, at the time of settlement, I will review the Closing Disclosure and go over it with you to ensure compliance with the contract. If you would like me to handle your sale, simply fill out a Seller Closing Information Form and fax or e-mail it to my office along with a copy of the signed purchase/sale agreement. We will contact you upon receipt of the form. See Fees – Real Estate Services.

Buying Real Estate attorney help

Buying Real Estate With An Attorney’s Assistance 

After receiving a fully signed purchase/sale agreement and completed Buyer Closing Information Form (Residential), we will order a title search, title insurance and survey, if requested, contact your homeowner’s insurance agent, and work with your lender to satisfy all of their requirements for closing. If your home inspection or title search reveals any problems with the property we will work with you and the seller to resolve those problems. If you would like me to handle your closing, simply fill out a Buyer Closing Information Form (Commercial) and fax or e-mail it to my office along with a copy of the signed purchase/sale agreement. We will contact you upon receipt of the form.

Tips for Home Buyers

In addition to having the contract reviewed by an attorney prior to signing, the following issues are important components of the home-buying process:

Home Inspections and Condition of Property

You should have the property you are purchasing inspected by a licensed inspector or qualified contractor. You should do a final walk-through near the time of closing to ensure that any repairs or improvements agreed to by the seller(s) have been done, that the major systems of the property are in working order, and that the property is in acceptable condition.

Well, Septic and Termite Inspections

 If the property you are purchasing is served by a well and/or septic system, you should have the well water tested for contamination by a certified laboratory and you should have the septic system inspected and tested by a licensed inspector or plumbing company. Please note that septic inspections do not guaranty the system but only reflect its current working status. Underground conditions of the drain field can only be revealed by camera or digging up the field, which is not normally included with a standard septic inspection. You should consult a septic professional if you have specific concerns. If you are purchasing land that is not served by municipal water or sewer utilities, you should have the property tested for the availability of well water and the capacity for a septic system (percolation testing). Finally, you should obtain a termite and wood destroying organism report.

If the property you are purchasing is served by a well and/or septic system, you should have the well water tested for contamination by a certified laboratory and you should have the septic system inspected and tested by a licensed inspector or plumbing company. Please note that septic inspections do not guaranty the system but only reflect its current working status. Underground conditions of the drain field can only be revealed by camera or digging up the field, which is not normally included with a standard septic inspection. You should consult a septic professional if you have specific concerns. If you are purchasing land that is not served by municipal water or sewer utilities, you should have the property tested for the availability of well water and the capacity for a septic system (percolation testing). Finally, you should obtain a termite and wood destroying organism report.

Property Surveys

A new survey may not be required by your lender. However, you should consider getting a new survey to mark the location of buildings and identify boundary lines, easements, setbacks, wetlands, drainage areas, and other matters. Encroachments may be revealed by a survey. Surveys are also helpful if you build new structures on the property, such as a garage, shed or fence. The Homeowners Policy of Title Insurance covers some claims even without a new survey but standard owner’s title insurance does not cover most problems that would have been discovered by a survey. Surveys are not necessary for condominium purchases.

Real Estate Investor Representation

Real estate investing has become a thriving industry in Virginia. While there is significant profit potential in real estate investing, there are also many potential liabilities that investors should be aware of. I handle many transactions for real estate investors who buy and sell or buy and hold or lease properties. Many of these transactions involve distressed properties, short sales or foreclosures. I handle non-traditional transactions that many attorneys, even experienced real estate attorneys, do not handle, including land trusts, long- and short-term lease/options and assignments of lease/options, “subject to” purchases, seller financing, and installment land sale (contract for deed) transactions. My staff and my affiliated title company are accustomed to these transactions, so we can provide a smooth closing even under difficult circumstances. If you are a real estate investor in Virginia I am confident that I can help you improve your business with my knowledge and experience in this area.

Commercial real estate contract lawyer

Title insurance

“Title” is legal evidence of ownership and possession or property. Title insurance provides protection from financial loss due to hidden title defects or human error. Mortgage lenders require a loan policy of title insurance to ensure that they have a valid lien against your property. The premium is based on the mortgage amount. Owner’s title insurance protects you, the buyer, up to the value paid for the property. The premium is based on the purchase price. You pay a one-time premium at closing for both forms of coverage. You are not required to purchase owner’s title insurance but I highly recommend it. If available, the Homeowner’s Policy of title insurance will be ordered for residential closings, unless you opt out. Attached is a comparison between Standard ALTA title insurance and the Homeowner’s Policy of title insurance. Please note that the Homeowner’s Policy is not available for commercial or investment property, vacant land, and most new construction closings.

You may qualify for a discount rate on title insurance if you provide a copy of the seller’s existing owner’s title insurance policy that is less than 10 years old. Please contact the seller or your real estate agent to obtain that information. If we do not receive it at the time the information form is returned, we will not be able to apply for the discount.

We can arrange for title insurance for any residential or commercial transaction through River City Title, LLC or other providers. T. Andrew Lingle is a 25% member of River City Title, LLC, which is the title insurance agent that provides title insurance or other services for most real estate closings handled by this office. There is no requirement that you use River City Title. However, the advantage to using River City Title is that your transaction will receive priority and personal attention.

I.R.C. Section 1031 tax-deferred exchanges

When property that is held for productive use in trade or business or for investment purposes is sold it may qualify for the deferral of capital gain by using a tax-deferred exchange. This is a very valuable tax and estate planning tool. However, the sale contract must provide for the exchange and the seller must comply with the specific requirements of Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. The proceeds of the sale must be held by a Qualified Intermediary, and the seller cannot actually or constructively receive any of the exchange proceeds. A replacement property must be designated within 45 days of the closing on the relinquished property, and the replacement property must be closed within 180 days of the closing on the relinquished property. I provide Qualified Intermediary services, or if I serve as closing attorney in the sale or purchase transaction (causing me to be disqualified from serving as the Qualified Intermediary), I work with another attorney who can serve as Qualified Intermediary to complete the exchange in accordance with IRS rules. This is a general overview of 1031 exchange procedures. You should consult with your CPA on all tax implications and contact me to discuss the details of the proposed transaction before attempting to do a 1031 exchange. It is very important to set up the documents for the exchange well in advance of the scheduled closing date. I work with a number of CPAs, financial advisors, and real estate agents in handling exchanges. See

When property that is held for productive use in trade or business or for investment purposes is sold it may qualify for the deferral of capital gain by using a tax-deferred exchange. This is a very valuable tax and estate planning tool. However, the sale contract must provide for the exchange and the seller must comply with the specific requirements of Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. The proceeds of the sale must be held by a Qualified Intermediary, and the seller cannot actually or constructively receive any of the exchange proceeds. A replacement property must be designated within 45 days of the closing on the relinquished property, and the replacement property must be closed within 180 days of the closing on the relinquished property. I provide Qualified Intermediary services, or if I serve as closing attorney in the sale or purchase transaction (causing me to be disqualified from serving as the Qualified Intermediary), I work with another attorney who can serve as Qualified Intermediary to complete the exchange in accordance with IRS rules. This is a general overview of 1031 exchange procedures. You should consult with your CPA on all tax implications and contact me to discuss the details of the proposed transaction before attempting to do a 1031 exchange. It is very important to set up the documents for the exchange well in advance of the scheduled closing date. I work with a number of CPAs, financial advisors, and real estate agents in handling exchanges. See

When property that is held for productive use in trade or business or for investment purposes is sold it may qualify for the deferral of capital gain by using a tax-deferred exchange. This is a very valuable tax and estate planning tool. However, the sale contract must provide for the exchange and the seller must comply with the specific requirements of Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. The proceeds of the sale must be held by a Qualified Intermediary, and the seller cannot actually or constructively receive any of the exchange proceeds. A replacement property must be designated within 45 days of the closing on the relinquished property, and the replacement property must be closed within 180 days of the closing on the relinquished property. I provide Qualified Intermediary services, or if I serve as closing attorney in the sale or purchase transaction (causing me to be disqualified from serving as the Qualified Intermediary), I work with another attorney who can serve as Qualified Intermediary to complete the exchange in accordance with IRS rules. This is a general overview of 1031 exchange procedures. You should consult with your CPA on all tax implications and contact me to discuss the details of the proposed transaction before attempting to do a 1031 exchange. It is very important to set up the documents for the exchange well in advance of the scheduled closing date. I work with a number of CPAs, financial advisors, and real estate agents in handling exchanges. See Fees – Real Estate Services.

Title Disputes and Mechanic’s Liens

Because of the number of investor and non-traditional closings I handle, I am often called upon to resolve title disputes or to clear title defects. We frequently encounter unreleased liens, judgments, erroneous deeds, property line encroachments, incapacitated sellers, defective documents and many other problems. My staff and my affiliated title company are very effective at resolving these problems at a reasonable cost. Mechanic’s lien law in Virginia can be a minefield. Contractors seeking to file a mechanic’s lien must comply with very specific requirements of the Virginia Code. An improperly filed lien will prevent a contractor from enforcing the lien, but even an improperly filed mechanic’s lien can present problems for the property owner. I have years of experience representing contractors. I have filed and enforced many mechanic’s liens for my clients and I have defended property owners against mechanic’s lien claims.

Contracts and Leases

In addition to drafting and reviewing commercial and residential real estate contracts, I frequently review and draft both residential and commercial leases and related documents. If you are leasing property it is imperative that you develop a consistent and reliable lease. I strongly discourage the use of generic lease forms that are not tailored to Virginia. All of the documents I draft are customized to the specific transaction I am retained to handle. 

Landlord and Tenant Law

In addition to drafting and reviewing commercial and residential leases and related documents, I handle landlord and tenant disputes, including evictions. If you become involved in a lease dispute it is important to have attorney involvement as early as possible in the process. If you need to evict a tenant, that process can drag on for months, resulting in the loss of rental income and/or damage to your property. I advise my landlord clients to be very proactive in enforcing their lease rights. Residential landlords who rent 4 or more units are subject to the Virginia Landlord and Tenant Act. The lease and all dealings with the tenant with respect to default and eviction proceedings must comply with the Act, so it is important to have an attorney to ensure compliance with the Act. Commercial landlord-tenant law is quite different from residential law. Commercial leases are generally more favorable to the landlord. I routinely draft or review leases for my business clients, so I am well equipped to handle lease negotiations either on the landlord side or the tenant side. Finally, if you become involved in a commercial lease dispute you should consult an attorney as soon as possible

Other Matters:   If you need assistance with a matter that is not specifically covered by the content of this website, please contact me. If I cannot handle the matter I will try to assist you in contacting an attorney who better suits your needs. I have referral arrangements with attorneys in several other areas of practice, including personal injury, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, insurance and traffic or criminal.

VIRGINIA SHORT SALES LAW

If you are unfamiliar with the term, a “short sale” is a real estate transaction where the mortgage lender agrees to accept less than the full amount owed on the mortgage in order to allow the property to be sold.  Short sales  became prevalent in the late 2000’s when real estate values in many areas  fell  drastically leaving borrowers “under water”, meaning they owed more than the property was worth.  Real estate values and the economy in generally has rebounded, but short sales are still fairly common.  If you can continue to pay your mortgage the loss of equity in your home may not be devastating, but if you are unable to make mortgage payments due to job loss or other circumstances, or if you must sell your home then you may be left with the choice between foreclosure  or short sale.  Short sale negotiation is difficult and time-consuming unless you are very familiar with the process.  Often borrowers have two or more mortgages on a property, and therefore, they need to simultaneously negotiate with multiple lenders.  Sometimes lenders are willing to release the mortgage from the property, allowing it to be sold, but they refuse to release the borrower from the deficiency (the difference between the amount owed and the amount paid on the short sale).  The goal is to allow the borrower to walk away from the mortgage free of debt without foreclosure or bankruptcy. Therefore, it takes an experienced professional to navigate the difficult waters of short sale negotiation.  A short sale will affect your credit, but it will be much less devastating than a foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Requirements for a short sale:

1. The market value of the property must be below the amount(s) owed on the mortgage(s).  The value of the property must be proven by generally-accepted means such as appraisal or comparable sale analysis.  Having a track record of the property being offered for sale on the open market is usually necessary.

2. The borrower must be facing financial hardship which prevents paying the full amount of the mortgage, such as unemployment, divorce, medical expenses, loss of rental income, forced relocation, etc.  Lenders will not approve a short sale because of bad investments, nor will they approve a short sale if the borrower has the financial ability to make up a deficiency. 

If you think you are in the position of having to negotiate a short sale please contact my office so that I can help you get started.  You will need to collect all of the information and documents necessary to present a formal short sale request (hardship circumstances, tax returns, W-2 forms, bank statements, etc.).  You will also need to hire a real estate agent to market your home for sale.  I work with several excellent agents if you need a referral.  See Links. When you get a contract offer on your home, the contract should be made contingent upon short sale approval by your mortgage company.  Upon receipt of a ratified contract, we will prepare (or the potential buyer’s closing agent will prepare) a preliminary closing statement, which will be submitted with the short sale request.  I will monitor the short sale negotiation process until we receive a definitive answer from your mortgage lender(s).  Hopefully, the transaction will proceed to closing and I will handle any other document preparation or other services necessary for the transaction.

 VIRGINIA FORECLOSURE LAW 

The goal of my representation of distressed borrowers is to avoid foreclosure.  A foreclosure will adversely affect your credit for years to come.  However, if you are in danger of foreclosure or if you are already in the middle of that process, I may still be able to help.  Negotiating a short sale is one means of avoiding foreclosure.  Filing bankruptcy will stop a foreclosure, although that may only be temporary.  I do not handle bankruptcy cases, but I work with some excellent attorneys to whom I may be able to refer you, and I will continue to work with you on real estate matters.  In some cases, a foreclosure may be stopped due to a flaw in the mortgage documents or in the foreclosure process itself.  If you are facing foreclosure, I may be able to help with strategies to protect your home or defer the process long enough for you to sell your home and avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Real Estate Attorney For Closings

  • Leases  Real Estate Law
  • Investor Representation  Realty Law
  • Installment Sales Law
  • Land Trusts  Law
  • Lease-Options Law

 

Commercial  Real Estate Lawyer

  • Title Insurance  Law
  • Title disputes Law
  • Section 1031 Exchanges Law
  • Landlord and Tenant Law
  • Deed preparation Law
  • Contracts for Purchase Or Sale  Law
  • Commercial  Real estate Purchase Law
  • Residential  Real Estate  Purchase Law