When people think “real estate” they often first think of things like land, houses, and buildings. But real estate is much more than just land; it’s everything associated with owning and using land.
It includes the infrastructure required to use land, such as roads, easements, water, and utilities, and items underneath the surface, such as minerals. It includes rights and restrictions on how land is used, such as local regulations regarding use, development, and permits, as well as restrictive covenants.
It even includes things like leasing, purchasing/selling, title disputes, boundary disputes, conveyancing, financing, liens, eminent domain, tax appraisals, and more. Each of these areas of real estate has its own laws and rules, and how these laws and rules operate often depend on your specific circumstances.
Newnam Land can help you navigate the complexities of real estate acquisition, ownership, use, and transfer, working to ensure that your interests are protected. In addition to having years of experience representing clients regarding all kinds of real estate issues, both Robert and Dixie have unique experience that they use for the benefit of their clients.
Robert Land is a licensed Realtor® in Texas, so he understands the process of valuing, buying, and selling land, start to finish. Dixie Newnam has over a decade of experience in county government representation, providing her with a depth of experience working with local governments regarding development regulations, permits, and tax appraisals.
Newnam Land’s attorneys have many years of experience in real estate matters and enjoy working with clients on their individual real estate issues. Some of the areas that we can help you with include:
Purchases and Transfers of Ownership: There are times when the purchase or sale of a piece of property requires more than a real estate agent’s expertise. As attorneys, Newnam Land can draft all necessary documents related to a sale or purchase of property and can provide legal advice regarding the forms used by Texas real estate agents. Newnam Land can also draft additional language for use in those forms.
Deeds and Conveyancing: Deeds are the documents through which ownership of a piece of property is shown and transferred. It is highly important that deeds contain the correct parties, tenancy language, property description, and warranties specific to your transaction.
Easements: Easements are a right to enter onto property owned by someone else. Common easements include access easements (the ability to cross another person’s property to access your own) and utility easements (the rights of utility companies to cross property for the purposes of providing services or transporting things like electricity, water, or natural gas).
Subdivision Plats: When a large piece of land is cut into smaller parcels, the developer creates a map (called a “plat”) that depicts the parcels and provides a legal description for each of them. Plats can also establish common use easements for things like access and walking/horse riding trails.
Covenants and Property Owners’ Associations: When a developer creates a new subdivision, it typically places certain rights and restrictions on the parcels through restrictive covenants. Those covenants are then enforced by property owners’ associations or, sometimes, by other property owners.
Deeds of Trust and Notes: When the purchase of land is financed, the person or entity loaning money requires that the purchaser sign a note, deed of trust, and various other financing documents. The documents control things like title transfer, payments, and events of default and rights in case of default. Due to the amount of money involved in financing, both the lender and borrower will want to make sure their interests are well protected.
Contracts for Sale: When a party agrees to sell a piece of property to a prospective buyer, he or she will enter into a contract with that buyer that spells out each party’s rights and responsibilities with respect to the sale. This contract sets out many things, including the length of the buyer’s option period, disclosures, financing, and date of closing. These contracts can be difficult to terminate, and a termination may lead to a loss of earnest money or a forced consummation of the sale. Therefore, it is important that prior to signing, buyers and sellers understand the contract and are comfortable with all of its terms.
Quiet Title Actions: Sometimes it is unclear from the public records who owns a piece of property. If the issue cannot be corrected with newly executed deeds, a court may have to issue a ruling as to who the owner is. This is often accomplished through a quiet title lawsuit.
Liens: Real Estate Liens are publicly recorded claims against real estate to pay a debt, and which can be foreclosed upon. These can arise from loans of money used to purchase the property and from unpaid contractor costs, among other ways.
Trespass: Trespass is when a person enters onto the property of someone else without permission.
Boundary Disputes: Boundary disputes arise when neighbors disagree as to where a property line is located.
Adverse Possession: Adverse possession is a legal doctrine through which a person can acquire ownership of a piece of real property by possessing it (without the owner’s consent) for a certain length of time.
Leases: Leases are agreements whereby an owner agrees to rent a piece of property to a tenant for a certain length of time under certain conditions.
As with all legal matters, it can be tempting to try the “do-it-yourself” route. This often arises with transfers between family members or friends or out of a desire to save costs. However, rarely are the right documents drafted in the right way.
For example, the parties might type out an agreement with basic terms, but not execute a note, deed, and deed of trust. Even when the correct documents are used, they often contain mistakes, such as using the wrong type of deed or not describing the property correctly or not including the language necessary to protect the parties’ rights.
What’s worse, is that issues stemming from do-it-yourself documents may take years—or even decades—to surface. When the issues created by poor drafting do come to light, it is far more expensive and time consuming to fix than if the transaction had been properly documented from the beginning.
Likewise, in real estate negotiations and disputes, you may unwittingly give up rights if legal advice is not sought right away. For example, documents signed at the bequest of a well-meaning neighbor may change your rights in a way you do not realize or cloud your title.
Or a letter written by an owner regarding a boundary dispute may unwittingly hurt his position. It is far better to engage the services of an attorney in the beginning than to go it alone and unwittingly compromise your rights, sometimes to a drastic result. Let the attorneys at Newnam Land help you with your real estate matters to avoid costly do-it-yourself problems.