Sorry this is a bit off topic, however lots of repairs were done to
this home before selling.......
I have a relative who is going to sell a home on a land contract. The
price and terms have been discussed with the buyer. Now the paperwork
needs to be filled out and legalized. Who who do they go to to do
this legal paperwork? I assume it's either a realtor or lawyer. But
which is the preferred method? If it's a lawyer, I know lawyers
specialize in different matters, what would be the type of lawyer
needed? (definition). Also, the home to be sold and home of the
seller are in two different states. Am I correct to assume the
transaction has to be done in the same state and county of the home to
Presumably you mean in the US. Usenet is a global medium.
You definitely don't need a real estate agent, although one might be able to
refer you to a good real estate lawyer. I had a grandmother (not a lawyer or
even close to one) who manged her own land contracts, but I wouldn't recommend
Any competent general purpose lawyer should be able to manage the transaction,
but you might ask what experiences they have in conveyances and land contracts.
Doesn't have to be, but that makes things somewhat easier for the seller. The
contract gets recorded in the county where the property is located. The signing
can occur anywhere.
I definitely do not agree with that. It would be important to use an
experienced real estate attorney -- meaning one who specializes in real
estate transactions. A general practice who does not specialize in real
estate would be a mistake.
*Ideally the buyer and seller will each have their own attorney to represent
their respective interests. It is most important for the buyer to have an
attorney, however the seller doesn't want something from the transaction to
come back and bite them in the tush afterwards.
I would hire an attorney located in the county that the property is located
and who has experience in real estate transactions. Be wary of attorney's
who advertise low rates. There may be a lot of "Extras" tacked on that are
standard procedure for any real estate transaction. Also, find an attorney
who returns phone calls in a timely manner.
In some states it's routine to do real estate transactions
without an attorney, using for example a title company
to do the closing. Here in NJ, sales are almost always
handled by an attorney, which I would think is the safest
and best way for most people. You really should have
someone that is looking out for YOUR interests when
writing the contract and making sure it's all done
I'd ask around for recommendations for attorneys.
Failing that, the local bar association probably has
a website with lawyers listed. A general purpose
lawyer typically handles real estate. If you look
in listings of lawyers, their websites etc, you'll
also find some ones that will list real estate as
one of their specialties.
The deal and closing could be held in either state.
Their would be advantages and disadvantages to
using one in one state vs the other, eg how
convenient it is for the buyer/seller, familiarity
with the laws in the state the property is in, etc.
I'd probably go with a lawyer in the state the
property is located in, unless a local lawyer
you already have is familiar with the other state.
Just a note about New Jersey (which is where I am located). There are
actually two different "typical" systems or "standard practices" in New
Jersey regarding real estate transactions. In North Jersey the closings are
almost always handled by an attorney and usually conducted in the attorney's
office. In South Jersey, many (or most?) closings are handled by title
companies, often in the title company office, and people may or may not have
attorneys representing them in the transaction. That is what the "custom"
is in New Jersey.
In this case in particular, especially since the plan is to sell using a
land contract and the seller is out of state, using an attorney would be
Interesting the things you learn. So, even in South Jersey
they use title companies. I know that's the practice in
CA for example, but didn't know it was going on here too.
I'm in south central NJ, near the border of Ocean County
and here it's routinely done by lawyers.
One thing I think we's all agree on is that if there is any
reason to be especially concerned about a deal, if it is
in any way not straightforward, etc, then I'd always go
with a lawyer. I'd also get the total cost nailed down
upfront. A friend did a closing a few years ago with a
lawyer who I believe was unethical. He asked her fee
for doing the closing and she told him $1100. In the
middle of the deal, she made a comment about her
"paralegal" doing some of the work and told him
"Oh, and you're paying for that too...." He didn't challenge
her on it and wound up paying another few hundred.
But, maybe karma goes around. After closing, months
later, he was reviewing water bills and saw that he
was billed $700 for water that was before closing.
What had happened was the closing was set for a
certain date, but did not happen because the mortgage
company backed out at the last minute. That's
another story of totally unethical behavior. So the
closing didn't occur for another month or so, in
which time the loons were watering the lawn every
day. The paralegal did not bother to get an updated
water bill for the closing.
It took about a year of hounding the lawyer, but
finally he got his $600 from her. She may have
gotten it from the sellers, but good chance she
didn't. They had moved many states away and
were already having some legal troubles of
I almost wrote South "and East" Jersey because I know that Ocean County
tends to follow the North Jersey custom of only using attorneys to conduct
closings and not title companies. I am in Camden County and title companies
is the way it is usually done here as well as in Burlington, Gloucester,
Atlantic, Salem, Cumberland, and Cape May counties.
I agree that your friend appears to have been deceived by the attorney who
quoted a flat fee and then upped the cost later on by saying her paralegal
was going to do some of the work. Attorneys in New Jersey are supposed to
have a signed fee agreement with their clients up front although they don't
always do that. Most real estate attorneys in South Jersey state up front
what their flat fee is for a routine real estate transaction, usually from
review of the agreement of sale and documents through the actual closing.
Interesting. I never heard of a title company in PA doing the agreement of
sale, but maybe what they print out is the standard PAR (Pennsylvania
Association of Realtors) Agreement of Sale. I think that form is similar in
concept to what New Jersey Realtors use -- meaning it's a standard contract
form that has been approved by the legal profession and contains all of the
caveats about getting an attorney to review the document etc.
I am in New Jersey but across the river from Philadelphia County and Bucks
Get a name from a satisfied client (friend, neighbor, relative). Contact
him. If he doesn't do real estate stuff, he can refer you to another.
Um, the "transaction" can be done anywhere. The final results will have to
be filed in the county where the property is located.
Note: A "land contract" is superior - from the seller's perspective - to an
outright sale with a mortgage. In a "land contract", the seller retains
ownership of the land until the "loan" is paid. If that's really the
mechanism by which the sale you mentioned is going to take place, neither a
lawyer nor a real estate agent is necessary inasmuch as title to the
property is not changing.
On 10/6/2011 7:48 PM, email@example.com wrote:
not. You could enlist a realtor that knows these laws and have him draw
up the contract and have it executed. They might do this for say 1% of
the sales price.
Lawyers usually have set fees, not dependent on property price.
You should get a lawyer that specializes in real estate and realtor or
any lawyer could tell you who they are.
Please do yourself a favor and do not have a Realtor or real estate broker
draw up the contract or paperwork. They are not attorneys. They serve a
very good function in selling properties, matching up buyers and sellers,
helping to negotiate a deal between buyers and sellers etc. But they are
not your lawyer and, since you already have a buyer and already have at
least an initial understanding between the buyer and seller about the terms
of the sale, you do not need a Realtor. You need an experienced real estate
I'm pointing out that licensed realtors know the state requirements
and it is one route that can be taken.
Having had experience here in Delaware, I'd go right for the lawyer
but in some states you can probably get by without either. Depends
how much work you want to do yourself. I know somebody here filing
for divorce without a lawyer.
Well maybe, maybe not. Realtors are not attorneys and they are not allowed
to practice law. Drawing up the legal documents for a client is considered
practicing law -- EXCEPT -- there is an agreed-upon waiver of this that was
established in South Jersey in the feud on this topic between attorneys and
Realtors. The attorneys agreed that Realtors could use a previously-vetted
standard legal form for the Agreement of Sale (AOS) and could prepare the
AOS for their clients if they used that form. Included in that form in bold
print is an advisory that the parties should seek legal counsel and that the
form also includes a 3-day Attorney Review Period. All parties have a 3-day
period of time after all parties have signed the documents to have their
attorney review the documents and either void them or suggest changes etc.
Even though all parties had signed, the documents do not become enforceable
until after the 3-day attorney review period.
If you would be willing to post what state this is in, and maybe even the
location (such as town or county) of the property, people here may be able
to suggest an experienced real estate attorney from that area.
Definitely do not use a Realtor or real estate agent since they do not
function as attorneys in real estate transactions and they do not represent
your legal interests. Their job is to match buyers and sellers and they
only get a commission if a sale goes through. They do not get any
commission if they tell you that the deal is not in your best interests and
convince you not to do the sale. An attorney represents you and your legal
interests, and the attorney gets paid even if he recommends that you do not
do the deal -- which sometimes happens.
It is important to use an experienced real estate attorney and not a general
practice attorney. There is no difference in cost. This would be
especially important in a transaction where you want to do a land contract
or other type of seller financing option, but it is also important in any
real estate sale -- even a traditional transaction.
Get an attorney who is located where the property is located, and (to
repeat) get one who specializes in real estate. He/she can handle the whole
thing for you from the state where the property is located.
Think very carefully before you go ahead and do a "land contract" type of
sale. Depending on the circumstances, there can be a variety of other ways
to handle the sale with "terms" if that is what you need to do or want to
do. On the other hand, there may be specific circumstances involved here
that are the reason that you want to do a land contract, and reasons why it
may make sense in your particular case.
Pretty sound advice thus far thought some in tinted just a bit here and
Now for the bad news. Many states mine included have recently adopted a "no
owner financed sales" without a mortgage license for property that is not
the sellers primary residence.
That sucks really big time but it is the law. That is the first hurdle to
overcome. The requirements to become licensed are quite burdensome IMO.
Please come visit http://www.househomerepair.com
I think that comes from a recent federal law and there are waivers and
exceptions to that requirement. One is that if an individual does less than
3 such transactions per year (I think that is the standard -- I would have
to check) he/she is exempt. The law was designed to protect buyers from
investors who buy lots of properties (sometimes "subject to" the existing
mortgage -- a mortgage takeover ) and then flipping them to buyers who may
not be qualified by taking back owner financing. In other words, they were
selling properties on terms that the buyers didn't really have the
qualifications and income to meet and then those buyers later lost their
homes in foreclosure.
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