Frequently Asked Questions About Real Estate Law
Real estate transactions can be intimidating and complicated. Whether you are “just looking” or you have gone through several transactions before, Jeppesen Gray Sakai PS can help you understand your situation and what steps you need to take in your real estate matter.
These are answers to some of the questions we get most often:
What is title insurance and why is it important?
One of the most common issues that comes up with a real estate transaction is the title. A title insurance policy protects the insured person against financial loss if there is a problem with the title. Such insurance also covers defending the title in court to resolve any issue that comes up.
Like any other kind of insurance, you hope that you will not need it, but if you do, you are glad you have it. Depending on the transaction and who is involved, title insurance may be required.
Issues with the title are not always a question of who is on record as owning the property. Title issues can include anything from liens from people who have done work on the property to issues with how the title was recorded on earlier transactions.
What are some of the common issues that come up in a real estate transaction?
Even when it goes smoothly, there are still a lot of pieces to a real estate transaction. This means there are a lot of potential issues that can turn into problems.
Whether you are looking for a new home or a new home for your business, you could be looking at transaction problems including:
- Liens on the property
- Complications with the mortgage
- Disputes with the disclosures in inspections
- Issues with the purchase or sale agreement
- Zoning problems
What is escrow? How does it work?
Escrow is an item held by a third party during a transaction until certain conditions are met. In real estate, the item is money or certain documents, such as a deed or mortgage. Often, the escrow agent is the title company and the agent will hold any funds or documents the buyer and seller agreed to under the purchase agreement. Typically, any items that are in escrow are released at closing.
What are the common collateral documents in a commercial closing?
Lenders like to be protected in case of a default. Often, in a commercial transaction, a lender will require collateral documents at closing to provide additional security. Those documents may include:
- Assignment of the construction contract (if it is a construction project)
- Maintenance agreements
- Agreements of sale
What does it mean to have an easement?
An easement gives a nonowner permission to access another’s property, either to use something on the property or to access something on the other side.
Typically, an easement is created through a deed or another written document so that both parties are aware of the rights, privileges and conditions of the easement. There are many kinds of easements that grant different levels of access and transferability.
The lawyers at Jeppesen Gray Sakai PS can help you understand your specific easement questions and your access or the access you are granting to another person.
How does adverse possession work?
Adverse possession is when someone can make a claim on a piece of property against the owner. This person starts out as a trespasser. Through the rules of adverse possession, this trespasser can potentially make a claim by meeting certain conditions.
To make an adverse possession claim, the following must be established:
- Hostile occupancy of the land. This person cannot be on the property with permission to be able to make an adverse possession claim.
- Actual possession of the land. An adverse possessor needs to exercise control over the land, treating it as if it were his or her own.
- The possession must be exclusive to the person making the claim.
- Occupancy must be open and notorious. Adverse possession is not about someone hiding on a property for an extended period. This person must be treating the land as a real owner would.
- The possession must be continuous. In Washington, the statute for adverse possession is 10 years. That means that an adverse possessor must fulfill these conditions for 10 years to have a claim.