Real Estate Law

Land Use & Zoning

Offering Legal Representation & Counsel

Transfers of Interests in Real Property

Most people are likely familiar with buying and selling real estate, particularly residences (single family, condominiums, mobile homes).  Residential transactions are usually relatively simple and, in Florida, most use the FAR-BAR standard purchase and sale contract form, which describes the property, specifies deposits and price, inspection and closing provisions, who incurs costs for such things, among others.

commercial real estate law sarasota Despite the apparent simplicity, however, these contracts contain provisions that both the buyer and seller should thoroughly understand before signing.  Provisions such as inspection and repair, title defects, land survey issues, responsibilities after closing and closing costs can impact each party’s role in the performance of the contract.  The property may also be subject to regulations and fees from community association documents for condominiums, homeowner associations, mobile home parks and entities unique to Florida, Community Development Districts (CDD’s).  You should thoroughly understand these documents prior to signing a contract or closing so that you can enjoy the property in the way you had planned.  Let James A. Harrison, P.L. assist you in preparing or reviewing these contracts and related documents to make sure you understand all provisions and their impact on the transaction before your deposit becomes at risk.

Other transfers, such as commercial properties, while similar, require more complicated contract forms and, as sophisticated business entities know, are generally individually drafted.  In these situations, the inspection aspects can be much more complicated in that they can include survey and environmental inspections for wetlands and contamination, as well as current allowable land uses under governmental comprehensive plan and zoning designations to assure that the proposed use is currently allowed or if such designations need to be changed, as discussed more in detail below.  If you are contemplating purchasing commercial property in Florida and need representation in the transaction, please contact us.

Still other types of transactions and issues regarding property transfers exist.  You may be interested in leasing residential or commercial property or you have a dispute with your neighbor over property line location or fence, or unauthorized use of your property.  In such events, James A. Harrison, P.L. can assist with preparation or review of a lease or the resolution of property line encroachments or other disputes.  Such disputes can often be resolved through analyzing the historical conveyances of the subject property or through the purchase and sale of an easement without the need for costly litigation.  If you encounter such a situation, do not hesitate to contact us.

Lastly, different property transfers use different deed types depending on whether the seller will warrant that he or she owns the property at the time of sale and will defend against adverse title claims.  These include warranty deeds, quit claim deeds and special warranty deeds.  Make sure you understand the implications of your deed before signing or accepting it by consulting us.

Property Development and Use; Restrictions

Whether you currently own or are looking to purchase real property in Florida, there are always governmental regulations and restrictions that affect its development, re-development and use.  The regulatory bodies include cities, counties and state and federal governments.  The requirements of the applicable bodies must be met to use your property for your intended purposes.  Such regulations are generally found in local government (city or county) land use regulations, which include the comprehensive plan and zoning requirements.  Basically, a comprehensive plan is the overall development concept for the geographic area and the zoning regulations are more specific for individual uses within that area.  When purchasing vacant land or property for re-development, these regulations are vital in that they must be consulted in advance to determine whether or not your intended use will be allowed.  Nobody wants to purchase property to later find that the planned use is simply not allowed or may only be allowed after great time and expense.  James A. Harrison, P.L. can assist you in determining whether the existing regulations allow your use or whether a change in either the comprehensive plan and/or zoning is a viable option.  At the very least, a preliminary examination of these issues should be performed prior to signing a contract to purchase the property.

sarasota real estate law If you determine that the property regulation will accommodate your planned use, we can also assist you during the development process with governing agencies, including, development applications, platting or re-platting, preparing required easements (public and private), impact fees, and improvement and participation agreements with governmental entities.  Environmental regulations will likely also apply for wetlands, if present, and drainage facilities.  Both of these generally require that specific provisions also be present in documents governing the continued use of the property over time, such as recorded use restrictions.  Other environmentally regulated features such as boat docks and lifts can require permits from agencies such as local governments, counties, states and/or the federal government.  These regulations, depending on the size of the facility, can be extensive and often require legal counsel to assure compliance and we can help you.

If you currently own residential property in Florida, you may also experience disputes with neighboring owners or the local government.  Neighbors can disagree about items such as fences or other encroachments, the location of the property line, building setbacks or nuisances from noise or bright lights.  Or, the local government may allege that you are using your property for commercial purposes, such as leasing or a home business.  They may also claim that you have improperly added or expanded existing structures or something as simple as improper landscape removal.  Such allegations are generally called code enforcement infractions.  In such cases, contact us so that we may assist you in resolving such allegations before actions such as daily fines begin.

Last, an issue specific to Gulf States since 2010 is the BP/Deepwater Horizon, Gulf Oil Spill and settlement claims under the settlement program therefor.  Currently, most claims for individual, real property and business economic losses must be submitted by spring of 2014 without an extension by the court.  With this time frame in mind, if you have experienced economic or property value losses as a result of the spill, let James A. Harrison, P.L. assist you in organizing, filing and negotiating your settlement program claim.

Areas of Service in Florida Real Estate Law

  • Real estate contract negotiation and preparation
  • Development, improvement, subdivision, and the sale of property
  • Examination of abstracts, surveys, and issuance of title opinions
  • Negotiation and preparation of leases for shopping centers, office buildings, and other commercial and residential properties
  • Preparation of condominium and homeowners association documents, qualification and filings (including all requirements)
  • Representation of banks, mortgage companies, savings and loan associations and other lenders
  • Representation of real estate brokers, surveyors, engineers, developers and others
  • Governmental and agency action on subdivision platting approval, zoning, variances, environmental requirements, and local, state, and federal approvals
  • Land trusts and other entities for owning and developing real estate
  • BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Settlement Program Claims
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