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Real Estate Law: An Overview with Leianne Winecoff of The Law Offices of Sam Maguire

By Leianne Winecoff

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

The Law Offices of Sam Maguire, Jr. P.C. is a Georgia based law firm that specializes in residential and commercial real estate transactions. Where Real Estate Meets Real People. Our state of the art technology enables us to provide you with crucial information fast. But just as important we offer our personal touch to guide you through a smooth transaction. We also own Augusta Title, Inc. a full service title examination company and Atlanta Signature, P.C. a travel attorney service.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Residential purchase and refinance transactions
Commercial purchase and refinance transactions
Residential and commercial title exams state wide
Remote attorney services (We come to you!)

Can you briefly state for our readers a generalized definition of real estate law?

Real Estate is generally defined by land and the buildings that are located thereon. A real estate attorney; however, must have a knowledge of almost every area of state and federal law as almost all aspects of law affect title to property. Taxes, probate, civil processes such as divorce and lawsuits as well as Federal Banking standards and state laws will all affect what the real estate attorney must consider and review when conducting a real estate closing. A real estate attorney must have knowledge of not only how property is transferred and loans are made but how other areas of law may affect his client's interest in real property.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of purchasing foreclosed homes or short sales?

An investor or private homeowner can find that foreclosures or short sales can allow them to purchase property for a significantly reduced price. Purchasers are cautioned however, to pay close attention to title issues that may exist on the property. Many owners of distressed properties may have had other financial troubles such as IRS or other tax liens that may still have to be paid. Cleaning up the titles to these properties or fixing old title issues with owners who do not wish to cooperate with the sale can be challenging at times and legal fees and the time involved in closing these transactions are typically more than a standard purchase.

What are some common litigation cases and how do you handle them?

We do not get involved in real estate litigation cases. We want to keep our focus on facilitating smooth transactions between all parties.

What sorts of transactions do real estate lawyers oversee? (i.e. bankruptcy, landlord/tenant, mortgages?)

We close residential and commercial purchase and refinance transactions which can include negotiating contracts, running title exams, preparing all closing documents, disbursing funds, issuing title insurance policies. We also represent buyers and/or sellers in transactions that close at other law firms where the buyer or seller may need their own representation.

What can be expected from a basic real estate contract?

There are many standard real estate contracts that parties to a transaction can utilize. There are some common terms that should be addressed upfront in the contract which include: Parties to the transaction; property description; sales price, earnest money, finance terms; closing costs; inspections; fixtures and appliances included in sale; closing date; and any contingencies that are agreed upon between the parties. Each contract should also have a process to dissolve the contract if the parties cannot meet their obligations. For example if the purchaser cannot obtain financing then the contract would expire and Seller may have right to retain the earnest money paid.

Does real estate law vary from state to state?

Federal law sets many of the financing laws that govern all states. From state to state the process of the transaction varies so greatly that if you are seeking to purchase property in another state it is highly recommended that you obtain counsel from that state who is knowledgeable on the state laws. Many states, such as Georgia, require that only an attorney can conduct a real estate closing. Deed requirements and foreclosures laws are different in every state. One major difference between states is with foreclosure laws as some states require a court action to initiate foreclosure while others do not.

What is the best way for people to reach you or your company?

Our main office line number is 404-257-8885 and during normal business hours someone can almost always get a live person. can be used to answer any questions a client may have. Also, feel free to check out our website here!

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