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Frequently Asked Questions About Real Estate Law

Q: What is real estate?

A: Real estate (also called real property) refers to land and things attached to land. For most consumers, real estate consists of their home and the lot surrounding it. Commercial real estate may include factories, equipment and other facilities. In addition to buildings and equipment, resources existing on or under the land, including minerals and gas, are part of real estate. Some of these components of real estate can be sold separately.

Q: What is a deed?

A: Deeds indicate, and are generally required to transfer, ownership of real estate. A deed contains the names of the old and new owners and a legal description of the property and is signed by the person transferring the property. The different kinds of deeds, such as the warranty deed, quit claim deed and grant deed, transfer different interests in property.

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Real estate transactions are governed by common law and various federal and state statutes that address a variety of legal issues related to acquiring, financing, developing, managing, constructing, leasing, and selling commercial and residential real estate. Buying and selling real estate, sometimes called real property, is generally more complicated than buying or selling other expensive goods, such as cars or boats. In real estate transactions, many different people can have an interest in the same property, the tax consequences are more complicated, and possession is not necessarily indicative of ownership. An experienced real estate attorney can help you sort through all of the difficult decisions and negotiations involved in real estate transactions.

Richmond Real Estate Lawyers

Spinella, Owings & Shaia, P.C. represents buyers, sellers and developers in residential real estate and commercial real estate transactions. We handle all aspects of buying or selling property, including purchase agreements, title review, mortgage commitments and closings.

Real Estate Law - An Overview

Real estate law includes both federal and state issues, with the state-level rules varying widely from state to state. These state and federal laws encompass everything from ownership of land and buildings to related issues such as financing, leasing, construction, taxes and environmental laws. A competent and experienced real estate attorney, like those at Spinella Owings & Shaia, P.C. in Richmond, Virginia, can protect a party's interests in both routine and complex transactions and disputes.

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Glossary of Real Estate Terms

Real estate law includes lots of jargon and legalese that can be intimidating or at least confusing, especially to first-time homebuyers. An attorney with experience in real estate law can help a buyer or seller understand the terms and concepts pervasive in real estate transactions. Read on to learn more about the terminology of this specialized area.

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Deeds

A deed is an unassuming and usually short piece of paper that has a big legal impact. A deed transfers an ownership interest in real property, and no real estate transaction where ownership transfers is finished until the deed is delivered to the buyer. A deed must include the names of the buyer and seller and the property's legal description. The deed is signed by the person transferring the property and may make that person responsible to the buyer for other claims against or conditions on the property.

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Home Inspections

Buying a home can be stressful and time consuming. Obtaining a home inspection can take some of the worry out of the process. An independent home inspector will give a buyer a complete picture of the condition of the property he or she is considering buying. Most houses are not perfect, and the inspector's detailed report gives the buyer an unbiased evaluation letting him or her know what needs work now and what will probably need work in the near future.

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What to Expect at Closing

A closing, or settlement, is the meeting during which ownership of the property is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer. The buyer and the seller, their attorneys, both real estate sales professionals, a representative of the lender and the closing agent typically attend the closing. The closing involves settling any open issues, balancing and verifying an often complex closing statement, and signing all documents necessary to complete the transaction.

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Real Estate Law Resource Links

U.S. Department of Housing
This general site for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development contains information on homes and communities.

National Association of Realtors®
This website of the National Association of Realtors® contains information about the real estate industry, including a section on real estate law and policy.

Yahoo! Real Estate
This site includes numerous real estate related resources, including links to information about buying, selling, financing and improving real property.

American Housing Survey
This resource contains a collection of data on U.S. housing from the Census Bureau.

National Housing Conference
Housing news and articles provided by the National Housing Conference, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing affordable housing for every American.

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Richmond Office
8550 Mayland Drive
Richmond, VA 23294
Phone: 804-747-0920
Fax: 804-270-7268
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Richmond Law Office