When you are engaging in the real estate market, you need an experienced real estate lawyer who can review complex legal documents to ensure your investment is protected. Whether you purchase commercial or residential real estate, Centonzio Law is looking out for your long-term interests.
For legal guidance regarding real estate legal issues, call 727-900-7290 to schedule an initial consultation.
Property Lawyers for Your Real Estate Needs
Safeguard your investment in residential or commercial real estate
As a real estate lawyer, Javier Centonzio believes that owning property is part of the American dream. His goal is to help buyers and sellers with accessible and affordable legal representation for their real estate needs. A real estate attorney near you can protect your investment in Largo, Florida, and throughout Pinellas County.
The Benefit of Having a Real Estate Lawyer
Realtors, brokers, and real estate agents are not attorneys. Although they can help you find the perfect property, only a real estate attorney has the appropriate education and knowledge to examine complex real estate contracts thoroughly.
This is one of the most significant investments of your life. Don’t leave your money and other resources in the hands of people who may not understand the law.
I was in the Marine Corps with Javier Centonzio many moons ago, before 9/11. He was a highly motivated and highly respected leader in his unit. Someone you could depend on to get the job done, and done well, no matter the circumstance. When the balloon goes up, he is a man you want on your side.
- Sam ByrdRead More Reviews
Our Real Estate Legal Services
We have the skills and experience to guide you through an array of real estate transactions
Centonzio Law frequently works with:
- Homebuyers & sellers
- Real Estate investors
- Developers & associations
- Real Estate sellers & buyers
- Landlords & leaseholders
- Lease negotiations & dispute resolution
- Real Estate Passed Through Probate
Commercial Real Estate
Commercial real estate involves complex issues and often several parties with greater assets being invested. Our commercial real estate lawyers help protect your interests and make sure you are investing wisely.
Commercial Real Estate Closings & Title Insurance
The commercial real estate closing process is like the residential process, but there are some differences. Most notably, there are fewer protections for buyers. However, parties can get more creative in the deal-making process.
Real Estate Closing Process
Four primary steps in the commercial real estate closing process often occur at the same time and overlap, including:
- Going Through Escrow: During this step, a neutral third party holds funds until all requirements of the escrow agreement have been met. This ensures no one gets paid or receives the title until all conditions are satisfied.
- Signing Authority Verification: Although a company may be a party in the commercial transaction, an actual person must sign the documents. Each person must show proof, often through a corporate charter form, that they have authority to sign for the corporation or other legal entity.
- Due Diligence: There are fewer state and federal laws that apply to buyers and sellers in commercial transactions, so due diligence is a more involved process than it is in residential sales. Parties must ensure contracts are properly executed, survey reports have been updated, and more.
- Signing and Processing Title and Closing Documents: All parties must agree to the title report and execute closing documents, including the assumption of leases, deeds, zoning disclosures, warranties, environmental reports, and other information necessary to close the deal.
It’s also essential for property buyers to obtain title insurance. Title insurance provides buyers and lenders protection against some issues that may arise during the real estate closing process and after that.
Commercial Real Estate Contracts
Commercial purchase agreements allow sellers to exchange real estate for money or trade. These contracts are not for the faint of heart and should be evaluated with someone who has legal knowledge. This prevents confusion and helps you avoid making unfavorable decisions.
When reviewing these contracts, an attorney will ensure the following:
- The property is described properly
- The price and/or consideration is accurately listed
- You understand all taxes and fees in the jurisdiction where the property is located
- You obtain estoppel certificates from tenants if any
The best commercial real estate lawyers can give you even more tips regarding these contracts and how to handle your property.
Commercial Real Estate Leases
Commercial real estate leases are binding contracts between the property owner and the renter or tenant. There are essential details on a lease that you need to understand.
Make sure you know the lease rate, how often it is to be paid, and whether extra expenses like utilities and insurance will have to be considered. You should also establish when the terms will be renegotiated, including rent increases.
Laws and Regulations
Be aware of zoning laws, environmental expectations, and nuisance regulations. If there are any local rules and bylaws you should be following, that needs to be conveyed clearly.
What Occurs When Ownership Transfers
Commercial properties are often owned and leased by organizations that serve smaller businesses. The lease should clearly discuss what happens if a business closes or if ownership is transferred. Subletting is another common issue that comes up with commercial leases.
Whether you are opening a small business or investing in a larger property to lease to others, a real estate attorney can ensure that you understand all the above.
Residential Real Estate
Your home or investment properties mean a lot to many people. They should be protected with proper legal documents and insured appropriately. A residential real estate attorney can review your contracts, titles, and other documents and ensure you’re on the right track.
Residential Real Estate Closings & Title Insurance
Residential real estate closings can take weeks or months before you get to sign on the dotted line. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) protects parties during closing by requiring lenders, mortgage brokers, and home loan servicers to provide disclosures about the full costs of the real estate process.
Steps in the residential real estate closing process include the following:
- Open an Escrow Account: A third party will hold money and documents related to the residential real estate transaction. Once inspections are complete, the consideration can be exchanged.
- Title Search and Title Insurance: A title search ensures the seller has legal ownership and no outstanding claims on the property. Title insurance protects the holder from any sustained losses resulting from a deficit in the property if there are liens or other claims on it.
- Home Inspection: A physical inspection of the property by a professional is necessary to determine if there are any problems with the property. If there are issues, the purchase price may be negotiated, or the seller may be asked to fix it.
- Final Walk-Through: You should look at the property one last time before signing all closing documents. Make sure there hasn’t been additional damage since you initially saw it, and ensure the fixes you agreed to have been completed.
Once these steps have been completed, your attorney should review all documents, and then you can sign them in the presence of real estate professionals.
Residential Real Estate Contracts
A residential real estate purchase agreement involves the transfer of property from a seller to a buyer. The contract outlines the terms of the purchase, including price and contingencies that must be met before the closing date.
Four Types of Real Estate Contracts
Four types of residential real estate contracts include the following:
- Purchase agreement contracts
- Contracts for deed
- Lease agreements
- Power of attorney
These are all legal documents that a professional should review before they are signed.
Residential Real Estate Leases
Residential real estate leases are signed between a landlord and a tenant. They contain terms for renting a house, apartment, condo, or other residential property. These contracts are often governed by state laws that are meant to protect both parties.
Florida Landlord/Tenant Law can be found on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website. It provides rights and responsibilities to all parties in a residential real estate lease in Florida.
Preparation of Deeds, Mortgages, and Other Documents
In addition to contracts, there are many other legal documents involved in the real estate process. All of which can be viewed by a lawyer to ensure you understand the document’s details clearly.
Preparation of Warranty Deeds, Quitclaim Deeds, and Enhanced Life Estate Deeds
A deed transfers a title, or legal ownership of a property, from one party to another. Deeds must be appropriately filed with local governments to be able to sell and finance that property. The buyer of a property and their attorney typically handle the filing of a deed with the appropriate government agency.
There are multiple types of deeds, including the following:
- Warranty Deed: This is a deed that guarantees that the seller owns the property free and clear, and there are no other outstanding liens, mortgages, or encumbrances against it. A warranty deed offers the most protection to the buyer.
- Quitclaim Deed: This type of deed does not offer any protection to the buyer. It does not guarantee that there are no other claims by any other parties. However, a quitclaim deed is a fast way to transfer property.
- Enhanced Life Estate Deed: Also known as ‘Lady Bird Deeds,’ this deed transfers property ownership to family or other beneficiaries without involving probate. This occurs within the owner’s lifetime. Enhanced life estate deeds are only recognized in Florida, Michigan, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia.
Preparation of Mortgages, Leases, and Promissory Notes
Real estate law is different in every state, and specific documents and language must be used in various jurisdictions or counties. A real estate lawyer can help you with all legal documents related to your property, whether you are buying or selling.
Centonzio Law can help with the following:
- Mortgages: There are many steps in the mortgage process. Your mortgage lawyer will ensure the process goes smoothly with the lender and the money is transferred correctly.
- Leases: Florida leases must comply with state and federal laws that protect both lessors and lessees. Landlords are best served by having a residential lease attorney prepare a valid contract that will hold tenants accountable, and tenants should consult an attorney before signing a contract they will be responsible for.
- Promissory Notes: A promissory note is a written document establishing aspects of a loan. They may be secured or unsecured. Lenders almost always have these prepared by an attorney who understands contract law, so borrowers also have a right to consult a legal professional when signing one.
Other Real Estate Matters
Centonzio Law handles many other real estate matters as well. We can help with the following:
Examine Titles & Deeds
When buying and selling real estate, you will undoubtedly have to review legal documents like titles and deeds. For this reason, here is a brief description of each.
- Title: This is a concept of ownership, not a physical document. It may reflect ownership such as joint tenancy, tenancy in common, tenants by entirety, sole ownership, and community property.
- Deed: A physical document declaring a person’s legal ownership of property. There are different types of deeds, such as a general warranty deed, a special warranty deed, a grant deed, a quitclaim deed, and a bargain and sale deed.
For a more in-depth analysis of titles and deeds, visit this article from Quicken Loans.
Review Documents & Contracts Before Signing
When signing documents during the real estate transaction process, you may be thrown off by some of the legal jargon on the page. This is called ‘legalese,’ or the purposeful use of complex words only known in the legal industry. Without an attorney that can decode this language, you could be left scratching your head.
Centonzio Law works hard to help clients understand the documents they need to sign and inform them when something may not be in their best interests. We note deadlines, ensuring you meet all the requirements. Our goal is to clarify what you’re signing, how much money is involved, and your legal responsibilities.
Asset Protection for Real Estate
Commercial and residential real estate ownership both have benefits as an investment and from a tax standpoint. However, there are risks as well. It’s crucial to develop a safety net for your real estate holdings. Those may include:
- Insurance: This proactive approach protects your property if it is damaged and can also protect you against lawsuits by individuals. You should consider the property type and use when obtaining appropriate insurance.
- Structuring Assets: Investment properties are rarely held in the owner’s name. Instead, people often transfer title to a legal entity to protect themselves against potential liability.