The Basics of Title Insurance

Purchasing a home is one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences in one’s life. It can also be a very confusing process for first-time homebuyers or for people that do not deal in real estate transactions often. One of the more confusing aspects of a real estate purchase is the importance of title insurance. Prior to sitting at the closing table, very few buyers have ever heard of, let alone understand, the concept of title insurance. Title insurance can protect the buyer and the lender, if a home loan is required for purchase, from undue loss caused by a … Continue reading

Best Lawyers Recognition 2020

Law Firm Carolinas and two of its attorneys have been named to the 2020 US News Best Lawyers in America. Jim Slaughter has been recognized by Best Lawyers in the practices of Community Association Law and Real Estate Law. Keith Black has been recognized by Best Lawyers in the practice of Family Law. Law Firm Carolinas is again the only firm in North Carolina with a listing of “Community Association Law.”

Hurry Up and Wait – What If My Closing Is Delayed?

            A typical real estate transaction is complicated and has many moving parts. In plainest terms, many parties have to come together, ready and willing to move forward at one time, for a real estate transaction to close. Nearly every aspect of real estate transactions has increased in complexity, and despite advances in technology, delays are still common.             When a delay arises, one of the first questions asked is: “What are my rights?” Some may wonder if a delay is a breach of the contract. More often than not, a delay is not necessarily a breach of the contract, … Continue reading

New Firm Facebook Page

Law Firm Carolinas has a new Facebook page where you can keep up with firm activities, read recent blogs, and find out where attorneys are speaking (and includes a photo from this morning’s Piedmont Education Breakfast where Steve Black spoke on Declaration Amendments: Pandora’s Box)? The new page can be found at We ask that you follow it, like it, and share it!

Real Property Tax Time: Legislative Update – Tax Certification, H201

Now is the time of the year in North Carolina that real property tax (ad valorem) bills are going to be coming out in all counties, if they have not already.  They are most typically due upon receipt but not incurring any late charges or additional interest unless not paid by or before the first part of January of the following year.  You should check with the specific county (there are 100 counties in North Carolina) to determine exact date unpaid tax bills are considered late.             A North Carolina statute that sometimes get overlooked in connection with non-payment of … Continue reading

Earnest Money Deposit & Contract Default Damages Between North and South Carolina Residential Purchase Contracts

Many real estate attorneys, including Law Firm Carolinas, PA, work in North and South Carolina to handle matters in both states to benefit their clients’ best interests, but require competence in the laws of both states.  There are many differences in the laws of each state, so your counsel must have requisite knowledge of both in order to handle these types of engagements for you effectively. One area of difference between North and South Carolina is how earnest money deposits made in connection with an accepted offer to purchase are treated once the contract terminates due to default. In North … Continue reading

I Want to Sell My Home But the Buyer Cannot Get Financing

CONCERNS WITH CONTRACTS FOR DEED / LAND INSTALLMENT CONTRACTS As my mother told me long ago, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” If we establish that saying as truth, and there are many ways to accomplish the same goal, I would have to add that some methods are certainly better than others given the same fact pattern; experience teaches us this.  It is my experience that if you are selling a home in North Carolina to a buyer who does not have all of the funds to purchase the property, either thorough available cash or an … Continue reading

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