Property Surveys in Residential Real Estate Transactions

A property survey is typically obtained by a prospective purchaser of real property, either with or without a home currently constructed on it, during the due diligence period.  The surveyor will provide a sketch of the land that includes its legal boundaries, any discrepancies identified that may be present in public record documents and one or more of a number of items of note that could be present in connection with any specific piece of real estate (location of building(s), right(s) of way, easement(s), encroachment(s), monument(s), setback lines, any possible violation of applicable covenants, and many others).  There is typically … Continue reading

Marital Rights in North Carolina Real Estate

Occasionally sellers of real property, or borrowers in refinance transactions, are confused upon being informed their spouse is required to sign certain documents at closing.  It’s not uncommon for closing attorneys to receive inquiries wondering “why do they need to sign?  They’ve never had anything to do with this property!”  While it’s certainly possible to purchase and hold property individually, a married person generally needs to involve their spouse in some manner when selling or refinancing North Carolina real estate. The concept of marital rights in real property descended from English common law principles designed to benefit the surviving spouse … Continue reading

New Year, New Taxes: How the New Year Could Affect North Carolina Property Taxes

The beginning of the year is often filled with thoughts of the future, personal resolutions you want to keep, and the hope of spring being just around the corner. The last thing you want to think about is property taxes. However, in many North Carolina counties, the New Year may also bring with it higher property taxes. In North Carolina, real property taxes are based on the value of real property on January 1st of that year. Theoretically, that means that the value of your home or real property as it stands on January 1st is the value on which … Continue reading

Buying Property at Foreclosure Sales

So, are you thinking of purchasing property at a foreclosure sale?  Perhaps you think that you can make a lot of money buying a house in foreclosure, and then flipping it.  Certainly some people do very well doing just that.  HOWEVER if it looks too good to be true, then it likely is. Before you bid in a foreclosure sale, there are several things to consider.  First, understand how foreclosure sales in North Carolina work.  The foreclosure sale is going to be set for a specific time between 10 am and 4 pm on a day the courthouse is open.  … Continue reading

E-recording in North and South Carolina

E-recording of legal documents in local registries, while not exactly new (first one recorded in 2000 in Salt Lake County, Utah), has become much more widespread in use in recent years both by jurisdictions accepting this method of recording as well as local attorneys utilizing the same.  There are currently 1856 jurisdictions accepting e-recordings and growing.  North Carolina and South Carolina each participate though not at 100% for either state.  North Carolina has 81 out of 100 counties currently with ability to e-record and South Carolina has 19 out of 46.  The participating counties are mostly skewed to the more … Continue reading

Trusts in Real Estate Transactions

Trusts have become a more common real estate holding tool, as people take a more aggressive approach to their estate planning. Trusts can be great tools for maintaining the privacy of personal finances and avoiding lengthy probate proceedings. Moving real property in and out of trust is typically no more complicated than recording a properly executed deed to or from the trustee of the trust. Selling property held in trust requires a bit more paperwork, but a skilled attorney should be able to easily guide clients through the additional documents required. For many years, the standard practice in transactions involving … Continue reading

Is There An HOA and Do I Care? Not All Restrictions Are Equal

One duty of a real estate closing attorney is to research the history of title to a tract of real estate and, as a part of that title search, determine what restrictions, if any, are attached to property being purchased.  Restrictions are generally attached either through the agreement of several property owners to be bound by certain restraints, or by a single owner seeking to subdivide property and to have all subdivided lots be under a common subdivision scheme.  In either event, restrictions in North Carolina have to be recorded in the county register of deeds where the real property … Continue reading

Avoiding an Un-Jolly End to the Holiday Fun: What Property Owners and Hosts Need to Know about Premises and Host Liability

The holiday season is a special time of year filled with visitors, get-togethers and mingling.  Most of us are already looking ahead to the joys of family and friends visiting, carolers, parties and yummy food aplenty.  Regrettably, the festivities of the season also open the door or create ripe opportunities for potential for liability.   Property owners and hosts need not, however, turn themselves into Scrooge; rather, personal liability can be avoided or greatly reduced simply by keeping in mind these potential issues and obligations: Premises Liability: North Carolina property owners may be held liable for injuries occurring on their property … Continue reading

Can an affidavit “fix” an error within a document recorded in North Carolina?

Real estate attorneys are occasionally faced with questions from clients and lenders about correcting typographical or other errors appearing in a recorded document.  It is often suggested that simply filing an affidavit should be sufficient to correct the document, but such affidavits are not always capable of accomplishing the intended result.  North Carolina recently revised its statutes regarding corrective affidavits, and this brief overview is intended to highlight distinctions between the various affidavits currently available. Affidavits for Minor Typographical Errors In the event a recorded instrument contains a “nonmaterial” or other minor error, an affidavit may be recorded to provide … Continue reading

Are You Ready to Buy a House?

Whenever I walk into our firm’s lobby to introduce myself to real estate clients who are there to close on a house, I tend to always greet them by stating “Are you ready to buy a house?!” I usually get one of three responses: a nervous chuckle followed by an “I guess so,” a very loud and relieved “Heck yeah, let’s do this!,” or a “Well, I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, so let’s get this over with.” As a real estate attorney and someone who has recently purchased a home, I am fully aware that buying … Continue reading

But I’ve Never Had to Do it That Way Before! Industry Primer: All Attorneys are Different

To follow up on my last blog post, I have to believe that every attorney who practices has been confronted with the statement “but I’ve never had to do it that way before”.  Please believe that despite the image of attorneys driving up costs for their clients, most real estate attorneys are working off of a fee-based system and generally do not want to create unnecessary work or delays for themselves or others. Disbursements I know there are some attorneys now or in the past who would wink and pass along one or more checks at the closing table before … Continue reading

Airspace Rights and Property Owners

Property owners are increasingly concerned about their rights with respect to aircraft overflying their property. The skies are becoming more and more crowded, particularly with the increased availability of unmanned aerial vehicles (e.g., “drones”). Land owners now wonder where their property rights begin and end, and what can they do about offending aircraft. The rules governing the interplay between land owner rights and aircraft rights are complex and, in some cases, unsettled. Traditionally, it was thought a property was owned from the center of the Earth to the Heavens. With the advent of modern aviation, that view has changed dramatically. … Continue reading

New Charlotte Address & Firm News

We’re excited to announce our new, larger Charlotte office! Note our new Charlotte address: 1927 South Tryon St., Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28203. The Charlotte phone number at 704-970-1593 remains the same.     This has been a busy and exciting year for our firm, so here are some updates and recent recognitions: Our Greensboro office expanded to take over neighboring office space (but has kept the same address). Four attorneys joined our firm this past year to assist with HOA/condo and real estate matters: Harmony Taylor, Brad Jones, Chris Rivers and Jason Pruett. For more information on any of … Continue reading

We Buy Unwanted Houses…Or Do They?

The Charlotte area real estate market remains hot and with that comes opportunists looking to make a dollar in real estate.  I receive solicitations from investors who claim to want to buy my house weekly (sometimes, three or more per day in my mailbox).  Telephone posts across the city are adorned with advertisements proclaiming to “Buy Unwanted Houses” or “Pay Cash for Your House”.  No doubt, it is tempting to want to cash in on the appreciating value of homes in the area.  However, homeowners should be cautious if they are approached by persons or companies who “pay cash for … Continue reading

Drone Photography and Real Estate Agents

“Drones”, or unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”), have made their into the marketing tool kits for many real estate agents, and for good reason.  A UAS can help produce splendid aerial views of properties for sale and give listing agents the ability to market properties in ways that were previously impractical or cost prohibitive.  Your marketing literature will stand out from the crowd with the photography UASs can provide.  However, obtaining these shots with a UAS can subject you to liability if you do not follow the applicable laws and rules concerns the operation of these systems. First of all, operation … Continue reading

Buyer Beware: Foreclosures of Properties with Existing Tenants

The housing market is hot in much of North Carolina, and many local and out of State investors are on the lookout for foreclosure deals that they can turn into quick rental income. In this situation some investors may be inclined to forego traditional due diligence, but they do so at their peril. No investor wants to purchase a property, only to learn after the fact that there is an in-place tenant (often less than desirable) who has no intention of leaving the property or paying reasonable rent. In this situation, the tenant may have more rights than the property … Continue reading

Best Lawyers Recognition

Two attorneys at Black, Slaughter & Black have been named to the 2018 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers. Best Lawyers recognition is based on peer reviews and client recommendations. Barbara Morgenstern been recognized by Best Lawyers in the practice of Family Law as well as Family Law Mediation. Barbara has also been named a “Legal Elite” by Business North Carolina magazine and a North Carolina Super Lawyer for Family Law. She is a Certified Specialist in family law by the NC State Bar, a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Past President of the NC Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial … Continue reading

REAL ESTATE HELD BY CORPORATIONS AND LLCs: WHY IT’S GOOD TO KEEP YOUR ENTITY VALID

At Black, Slaughter & Black, we handle closings for developers, builders, and investors throughout North and South Carolina.  Too often problems arise when the title to the property has been left in an old, dissolved entity.  Here is how we handle the issue in North Carolina: North Carolina allows business entities to convey property even after dissolution pursuant to statues governing the wrapping up of the business, so long as it is concluded in a reasonable amount of time (It is helpful that the law does not specify the duration, provide a limitation, or define a reasonable amount of time.  … Continue reading

Primer for Real Estate Brokers: Getting Your Deal Closed Like a Pro

As a real estate broker, getting a signed sales contract in hand is one of the most exciting parts of the buy/sell process.  A lot of time and effort goes into bringing a buyer and seller together to agree on the sale terms for a piece of property.  But, getting the contract signed only signals the beginning of the next phase of the process.  Brokers should be well informed of the steps in the closing process to be able to advise of and explain the process to their clients.  Being able to set expectations in advance of closing will help … Continue reading

Insurable v. Marketable Title in Real Estate Transaction

  The current real estate market is fast paced and more complex than ever before.  Many sellers of real property want to know they can move their properties as fast as possible without encountering costly delays brought on by unexpected title problems.  Larger institutional sellers (e.g., banks) will attempt to prevent some of these unexpected delays by contracting to convey title under a seemingly less stringent standard in order to get their deals closed in the shortest amount of time possible.  Often, this is done by agreeing to sell “insurable” title to prospective buyers.  But, what is the buyer actually … Continue reading