Real Estate Services
We provide a broad range of real estate-related services. I began representing real estate developers and builders in 1983, and over the years have broadened my real estate practice to include just about every conceivable aspect of that area of the law. We regularly draft and negotiate both residential and commercial real estate sales contracts and leases, including joint ventures. We regularly represent homeowners in disputes with contractors, contractors and builders in disputes with homeowners, condominium and homeowners associations, realtors and real estate brokerages, and property owners who have title and boundary line issues. I regularly serve as a special master in the Superior Court of Fulton County, in quiet title actions and tax sale matters. We represent residential and commercial landlords in disputes with their tenants, and tenants in disputes with their landlords. We represent private lenders, in foreclosure and eviction matters. We represent borrowers in wrongful foreclosure actions.
Real Estate Purchases and Sales: Probably the best advice we can give to anyone potentially entering into a real estate purchase or sale, either as buyer or seller, realtor or investor, is to consult with a lawyer before you sign the contract. Especially in today's volatile real estate market, no one can afford to have a contract that is not binding or which leaves too much room for interpretation if controversies arise. Sellers need to know their obligations under current authorities concerning disclosures about property conditions. Buyers need to know what disclosures sellers are obligated to make, and if, and when, they can expect to get their earnest monies back if their deals fail to close. Everyone needs to read every word of every contract they sign. If you do not understand some of those words or what implications they have, you need to consult with a qualified lawyer.
Leases: Landlords need to know what their obligations are concerning security deposits and property repairs. Tenants need to know what obligations their landlords have to make repairs that are not the tenant's fault. Commercial tenants need to know that commercial landlords have or may have significantly fewer obligations to the tenant than residential landlords do. Never use "canned" lease (or sales) contract forms that you find on the internet or buy at the office supply store, at least not without having them reviewed by a Georgia attorney first. Contracts tailored for general usage, or for usage in another state, may omit provisions critical to their effectiveness and enforceability under Georgia law.
Associations: Condominium and homeowners associations need to have careful guidance to comply with the Georgia Condominium Act and related association laws. In the current real estate environment, more and more condominium and homeowner associations are faced with budget problems when repairs need to be made to common areas, while unit owners and members are failing to pay their dues necessary to fund those repairs. Associations need to know how to deal with bankruptcy and foreclosure issues.
Boundary and Title Disputes: All property owners need to know the right ways, and the wrong ways, to resolve boundary line and title issues. Ignoring a neighbor's encroachment is not the right way. Waiting too long to address an encroachment, may result in loss of title due to prescription and/or adverse possession. If you and a neighbor have disputes over a boundary line, it would be prudent to agree upon and record a written boundary line agreement which settles the dispute once and for all. Never assume just because you bought title insurance, that your title insurance will protect you from all boundary or title problems. Title insurance policies usually contain many exceptions to coverage.
Lenders and Borrowers: Lenders, big and small, need to have legal counsel who understand the intricacies of usury laws, laws governing predatory lending practices, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation Z promulgated thereunder. Lenders in the current market need to know how to cope with borrowers who know how to "work the system," so to speak; leading the lender down a path of endless bankruptcies, court challenges and appeals designed to allow the borrower to stay in his or her home or business without making mortgage payments or paying rent. Conversely, honest borrowers need to know when a lender has engaged in illegal practices or made critical mistakes in enforcing their rights under loan contracts or applicable law. Georgia law allows "power of sale" foreclosures, meaning foreclosures without judicial process, but only if the lender strictly complies with notice and publication laws. Lenders and borrowers need to know about post-foreclosure proceedings, including "confirmations" and evictions.
If we can help you with any of these issues, please call us. If we are not able to help you with your problem, we will do our best to refer you to someone who can.
Please note that we generally do not do real estate closings, per se. However, we are affiliated with several excellent real estate closing firms and work closely with them to accommodate our clients' needs.
-Patrick McCrary, November 2011