Purchasing a home, rental property, or commercial property, or if you are contemplating entering into or are in the process of negotiating a residential or commercial lease, is likely to be one of the largest investments you make during your lifetime. An experienced attorney can help you avoid mistakes when buying or selling a property, and can advocate on your behalf should you become involved in real estate litigation.
Purchase, Sale and Lease of Residential and Commercial Properties
Involving a knowledgeable attorney in residential real estate transactions can help ensure that the parties truly understand the transaction, and that all contracts are drawn up and executed appropriately. Errors in a real estate transaction can lead to expensive litigation and forfeiture of significant assets.
A real estate contract must state who the parties are, the purchase price and how it will be paid, a description of the property, the kind of deed that will be delivered, the type of title held by the seller, the date the buyer will take possession, and other clauses relating to the property. New Jersey also requires a signed lead paint warning and disclosure.
Unlike in many other states, in New Jersey a buyer or seller may enter into a valid binding contract for a residence that is drafted by a realtor and have the contract reviewed and approved by their attorneys after execution. The review period lasts three days from the date of the last signature (buyer or seller's). In addition to checking the title and making sure all terms are acceptable, attorneys can seek to confirm that the property will be used for its intended purpose. It is smart to consult with an attorney even before signing a contract, however, because it gives the attorney time to learn what your objectives are in connection with the property, and to make sure that the property will satisfy those objectives.
It is customary that all residential real estate contracts in New Jersey be contingent upon the buyers getting their mortgage, home inspections, and a clear title. During the contract review period, however, a seller may continue to show the property to other prospective buyers. The buyer who is in contract is obligated to close after the attorney review process and after home inspection, termite and pest control, and other concerns are resolved.
Real estate law presents an additional layer of complexity in transactions related to commercial property. Savvy business owners understand that an attorney can help ensure that their use of a particular commercial real property will not run afoul of land use and zoning laws. A commercial real estate attorney can also help negotiate with governmental agencies for permits and approvals.
Leases represent an area of particular importance in the residential and commercial contexts as well. When a landlord and tenant enter into a lease, both parties have certain rights and obligations under state and local law, as well as the terms of the agreement, which is a legal contract that is enforceable in court in the event of a breach. Commercial leases can be quite complex, encompassing critical matters such as signage restrictions, and who is responsible for construction or other improvements on the property. An attorney experienced in real estate transactions can help you avoid potential pitfalls, and help you ensure that you are meeting all of your contractual obligations under your lease.
Litigating Real Estate Disputes in New Jersey
Anyone who owns real property, whether commercial or residential, could one day be involved in a real estate dispute. Common real estate litigation matters may involve a party's breach of a real estate contract, boundary disputes, misrepresentations about the land, land use issues, and commercial lease disputes.
New Jersey law permits parties to a contract to bring a lawsuit within 6 years to enforce their rights. This statute of limitations applies not only to breach of contract, but also to fraud, mortgage disputes, and other real estate issues. However, lawsuits to recover real property have a 10-year statute of limitations.
To establish a breach of contract in a real estate case, a plaintiff must show that (1) the parties entered into a written contract containing certain terms, (2) the plaintiff performed as required under the contract, (3) the defendant breached the contract by failing to perform one or more terms, and (4) the breach caused the plaintiff to suffer a loss. If someone materially breaches a contract, a plaintiff can sue for any injury or damages suffered because of it.
In addition to an award for compensatory monetary damages, a prevailing party may be entitled to "specific performance" of a real estate contract term. A New Jersey appellate court has ruled that this remedy is available to a buyer under a real estate purchase and sale agreement in New Jersey, even if a seller breaches the contract by selling the subject real property to a third party and the third party makes improvements.
Retain an Experienced New Jersey Real Estate Attorney
An experienced New Jersey Real Estate Attorney can help ensure a commercial or residential transaction goes smoothly, or advocate for damages in the event that a breach of contract or other issue arises.