Real Estate and Property Law
At Scarnecchia Mullin, PLLC we know the purchase and sale of your home may be the single largest transaction of your life, and we are here to make that transaction as smooth as possible. As Real Estate Attorneys we pride ourselves on counseling our clients through the entirety of their real estate transaction, beginning with the initial offer and acceptance period and ending at the closing table.
In many jurisdictions outside of Florida it is mandatory to have a Real Estate Attorney represent you in the purchase and sale of residential property. There is good reason for that. A knowledgeable Real Estate Attorney can ensure your rights are protected and fight to get you the best possible result in your negotiations. Although not mandatory in Florida, hiring an experienced Real Estate Attorney can be the difference between a “good” or “bad” deal.
As active title agents for Old Republic National Title Insurance Company through unrestricted membership Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, our Real Estate Attorneys are well versed in reading, examining, and providing counsel on all Title Insurance and Closing documents. Obtaining Title Insurance is a cost-effective way to guarantee you have the peace of mind you deserve regarding your property and our experienced Real Estate Attorney’s will ensure that your rights to the property are legally insured.
Our office proudly handles all aspects of your Residential Real Estate Transactions:
- Preparation, Negotiation and Review of Residential Real Estate Contracts, including familiarity with the Florida Association of Realtors® and The Florida Bar approved “As Is” Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase.
- Guidance and Legal Counsel regarding Residential Real Estate Contract Terms and Conditions, including any applicable Homeowner or Condominium Association Regulations.
- Preparation and Recording of Warranty Deeds, Special Warranty Deeds and Quit Claim Deeds.
- Review of Title and Lien Searches.
- Representation at Residential Real Estate Closings.
Explore Our Most Popular Real Estate Packages:
Buyer or Seller Residential Real Estate Transaction Package
Perfect for Buyer or Seller embarking on the Purchase or Sale of Residential Property.
- Negotiate and Prepare Residential Real Estate Contract
Review Pre-Drafted Residential Real Estate Contract.
- Provide Guidance and Legal Counsel regarding Residential Real Estate Contract Terms and Conditions, including any applicable Homeowner or Condominium Association Regulations.
- Review of Preliminary Title Report.
- Provide Guidance and Legal Counsel regarding Title Report including possible errors and other concerns that could interfere with your Real Estate Transaction.
- Review of Closing Documents.
- Provide Guidance and Legal Counsel regarding Closing Documents.
- Attend Closing, if necessary.
Deed Preparation Package
Deed preparation is an essential component of any real estate transaction. It is imperative that an experienced real estate and property attorney prepares your deed to ensure the transfer is valid and does not have any unwanted outcomes. Our experienced attorneys:
- Consult with all parties to ensure the proper deed is prepared to meet the party’s needs.
- Review existing deeds from the public records.
- Prepare new deed to commemorate transfer of real property.
- Provide notarization and witnesses for local clients.
A deed is the legal document that conveys title to real property. Florida law provides grantors (the party conveying real property) with several deed options when transferring real property to a grantee (the party conveyed the real property).
The most popular types of deeds used by Florida property owners are: (1) Warranty deed; (2) quit claim deed; and (3) ladybird deed (also known as an enhanced life estate deed).
Each deed carries different purposes and different warranties and covenants of title.
When having a deed prepared it is essential to confirm with both your mortgage company and title company that the requested transfer will not void your mortgage or title policy. The experienced real estate and property attorneys of Scarnecchia Mullin, PLLC will ensure that all due diligence is taken prior to preparation of any transfer documents.
In Florida, buyers and sellers generally rely on warranty deeds to provide additional and necessary protection to their transactions. A warranty deed (also known as a general warranty deed) provides the grantee (i.e. the buyer of the real estate property) with broad warranties and covenants of title.
A Warranty Deed is customarily used to mark the official transfer of ownership at the conclusion of a residential real estate property transaction. These guarantees are made by the grantor (i.e. the seller of the real estate property) to the grantee that the buyer will receive good and valid title to the property at the end of the transaction.
A Warranty Deed includes five covenants or warranties of title:
- Covenant of seisin - seller warrants that they are the sole owner of the property.
- Covenant of the right to convey - seller warrants that they have the legal right to convey the property.
- Covenant against encumbrances - seller warrants that there are no undisclosed restrictions or encumbrances against the property. For example, liens or judgments against the property.
- Covenant of quiet enjoyment - seller warrants that the buyer will not be affected by a defect in title.
- Covenant of general warranty - seller warrants that the seller will protect buyer from any harm caused by title defects.
These covenants allow the buyer to have peace of mind that their purchase is protected and title clear.
Because of these protections a Warranty Deed is the most common type of deed used between a buyer and seller of Florida real estate.
Quit Claim Deed
A Quit Claim Deed is another popular option in terms of transferring ownership of Florida real property. However, a Quit Claim Deed does not offer the same protections as a Warranty Deed, and there are several limitations on who can executed a Quit Claim Deed. Specifically, the grantor of a Quit Claim Deed can only transfer whatever interest of claim they have in the property and do so without any assurances regarding other owners or encumbrances. Many times, Quit Claim Deeds are executed when the transfer of real property is between family members or no monetary value is exchanged for ownership of the property. It is imperative when issuing a Quit Claim Deed to understand both the interest of the property the seller is conveying as well as the protections the buyer is receiving.
Lady Bird Deed (Enhanced Life Estate Deed)
A Lady Bird Deed, or “Enhanced Life Estate Deed” is a Florida specific real estate tool used to transfer ownership of property. Rather than transferring ownership or control of real estate to a property owners’ beneficiaries or heirs, a Lady Bird Deed allows the property owner to maintain a life estate in the property while naming remainderman to take ownership of the property after the owner passes away. The remainderman can be anyone the owner desires, not just a direct heir to the owner’s estate. A Lady Bird Deed allows the property owner to retain an interest in the property, including the right to sell or mortgage the property without consent of the remainderman and retain the benefit of any sale of the property without divesting any interest or profit to the remainderman.
A Lady Bird Deed is a popular estate planning tool as it allows the property pass outside of probate and does not necessitate the property be placed in a trust prior to the owner’s death. The Lady Bird Deed does not prohibit the owner from changing their mind as to the remainder interest during their lifetime and permits the owner to encumber their land, or sell their land as they wish, even if to the detriment of the remainderman.
The experienced real estate and estate planning attorneys of Scarnecchia Mullin, PLLC can review your specific needs to determine what type of deed is most appropriate to your transfer.
There are certain requirements that must be met when preparing a deed. These requirements are contained within Florida Statute 695.26. Specifically:
- The name and address of the individual who prepared the deed.
- The name and address of the current owner (also called the grantor)
- The name and address of the new owner (also called the grantee)
- Original signature of the grantor (note: the grantee does not need to sign the deed)
- Two witness signatures
- A valid legal description
- Full notarization
Once completed, the deed will need to be recorded in the county the property is located in. If any deed requirement is not met, the clerk at the recording office will reject the recording. The cost of recording is separate from the cost of preparation of the deed itself. The recording fee is based upon the amount of the mortgage of the property or sale price. The best way to ensure you have met all recording requirements and the fees associated with recording your deed is to contact your local recording office. Many clerk’s offices will have the cost of recording on their website.
Our skilled real estate attorneys will ensure that not only is the correct deed prepared to meet your needs but that the deed is prepared properly, and you are aware of any costs associated with the transfer itself.