Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Real Estate Investors: Protect Yourself from Fraud

Real estate fraud is very prevalent in Florida and anyone who is going to buy property or who is looking into real estate investments of any kind should first find a real estate lawyer.

Even if you're a Florida native and you're sure that you know all the tricks, you don't. If you truly want to protect whatever property--commercial or residential--before signing on the dotted line, hire an attorney to at the very least review your documents.

A skilled real estate attorney will direct you, review legal documents and contracts, look at the ins and outs, the ups and downs of a sale. You should have property reports. You should provide all the paperwork that is involved in a sale.

Protect Yourself, Then Buy If It's Safe

It's important to take steps to protect yourself and your investment upfront by allowing an attorney who you know and trust and who knows the many faults and tricks that can be involved in buying a Florida property.

You're NOT an Expert, so Find an Attorney

One thing that you can fault yourself on is buying property when you are not familiar with property faults. If you don't know about sinkholes, black mold, geographic surveys, hurricane damage, then you need an attorney who will protect you.

Eric Lanigan has lived in Florida his entire life and has seen the many ups and downs in the Florida real estate market.

"Many people don't consult and they don't know anything about Florida real estate. They come to me after the fact and want to sue.

"The challenge is the cost: you can pay many times more to sue than for a contract review."

Hire a Real Estate Attorney 

Don’t think that watching videos, reading and negotiating a deal makes you impervious to real estate fraud or serious legal issues.

Eric Lanigan and Roddy Lanigan are the attorneys at Lanigan and Lanigan, P.L., in Winter Park. The Lanigans are very knowledgeable in real estate, business, civil, and financial law.

The Lanigan's real estate insight comes from practicing Florida law as Winter Park natives who have seen the many scams and bad deals that unknowing buyers have had to deal with. One thing remains the same: impulse buys are dangerous.

Rental Property is Not for Amateurs 

People visit Florida with family and inevitably want to buy a timeshare. Next they consider a bigger
idea: a rental property. This idea starts because the buyer wants to save money on Florida vacations.

Then, the buyer looks for a property the family can stay in when they visit Florida. Instead of looking for a property that can be rented and easily maintained, the reasons become murky and blurred.

Buying a home with the idea that it should be rented vs. a property that will increase in value with minimal costs and a management company that can assure care for the home.

Your Realtor is Not an Attorney

The Lanigans help their clients involved with buying or selling real estate to avoid the pitfalls of not knowing the many issues that Florida land and property present.

Clients are residential, commercial and foreign buyers and sellers investing in personal and business property. Most individuals work directly with a real estate agent to buy and sell property and do not
think to consult an attorney.

Realtors are paid a commission from the property sale or purchase so selling the property is their focus. A realtor may be a seller’s agent, a buyer’s agent or a dual agent realtor with interest in buyer and seller interests.

An attorney will represent and protect your interests and protect you whether you’re a buyer or a seller. An attorney will look at your paperwork and help advise you on best practices based on your goals and your needs.

Don't Sign on the Dotted Line--Yet 

Zoning laws, property usage law, rental property law are not something that investors can know and understand unless they're attorneys.

You should have an attorney review all real estate documents before signing because a few hours or less can save many thousands of dollars in defense down the line.

Litigation is expensive and while the first thing that people may want to do is to "go after someone" and sue them, the truth is that litigation is very expensive.

If the Lanigans can negotiate or work with a mediator to resolve a legal situation, they will because a lawsuit of any kind will cost more than expected.

Where Do Most Deals Go Bad?

Attorney Eric Lanigan works with all types of clients before, during and after a real estate transaction. The potential for legal issues exists with the title search, the legal description of the property, land surveys, easements, appraisals, seller’s property disclosures to name a few.

"I've seen my share of good deals, but I've seen more bad deals," Eric Lanigan said. "One hour, two, maybe three hours of review with an attorney could have saved investors from the mistake of signing too soon, too quickly."

Talk with a very knowledgeable real estate attorney and allow them to review your contracts—at the very least. Take the time to consult an attorney before signing any real estate contract. An attorney will review the legal documents and find potential problems before the contract is executed.

Better to spend an hour or two upfront with an attorney than many thousands of dollars and untold amounts of time fighting for what could have been avoided in the first place.