I’m Just Buying a Home… Why Does a Judgment Against Me Matter?

When a client is purchasing a home, my primary job as an attorney representing the buyer is to research the chain of title for the property and to make sure that no one can, as I like to put it, “come out of the woodwork and claim an interest in the new home.” I explain this to clients during the closing by stating that before they own the home, their seller owned it, and someone else before them, and so on. We call this the “chain of title.” When those owners owned the property, they had the power to affect … Continue reading

Should Movers Be Scheduled for Right After My Closing?

A REALISTIC VIEW OF THE CLOSING I always tell my first-time homebuyers the same advice; never make plans to move in to your new home right after closing.  While there is a general expectation to receive keys to your home on the day of closing, there are numerous known delays which can create stress if you find yourself in a rush to the house after closing. As a general rule, the seller, or whichever party is holding the keys to the home, will provide the keys to the buyer once the deed to the property has been recorded in the … Continue reading

New Challenges in Cyber Security for Real Estate Transactions

The manner by which real estate transactions are conducted has changed a great deal over the past several years. Deals that were formerly completed entirely using ink and paper, are now becoming electronic, particularly when it comes to the movement of money. The cashier’s check was formerly the preeminent mode for moving funds from one account to another for a real estate transaction. This generally worked well and, excepting the occasional story about a fraudulent check, there were relatively few problems. The most noticeable downside to checks, from the perspective of a party to the transaction, was that the movement … Continue reading

South Carolina Tax Liens – 2019 Statutory Changes

The practice of searching title to South Carolina real property may be changing soon.  Governor Henry McMaster recently signed a bill allowing for the creation of a statewide filing and indexing system of liens imposed by the South Carolina Department of Revenue that will take effect on July 1, 2019.  Currently, state tax liens are filed with the office of a county’s Register of Deeds, Register of Mesne Conveyance, or Clerk of Court.  Once the new system is implemented, liens will instead be filed in a statewide registry that will be publically accessible and searchable online.  The most significant result … Continue reading

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