TACKLING THE CHALLENGES OF REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS & CHALLENGING TAX ASSESSMENTS
Buying or selling real estate can be a complex undertaking. Owning it can be taxing from a financial standpoint. Fortunately, HKQ Law can help bring simplicity to real estate transactions and provide relief from excessive property taxes.
Buying A Home
Purchasing a home is one of the largest and most important investments most people will make in their lifetime. The process involves complicated procedures. “A real estate attorney can help guide you through every step of the home-buying process,” as HKQ Law Business Attorney Kevin Walsh points out.
A homebuyer needs to sign a plethora of paperwork. HKQ Law will carefully review all the pertinent documents. Simple modifications to crucial documents such as the Purchase Agreement may better protect the interests of a buyer.
HKQ Law real estate attorneys can review the Title Report to spot any potential issues such as problems with adjoining owners or prior owners.
Attorneys can also explain the effect of any existing easements, covenants or restrictions, as well as any future ramifications of zoning regulations. We can familiarize you with the mortgage process and review the pertinent documents that need to be signed at closing. If any disputes arise at closing, we can help resolve them.
Selling A Home
While selling a home does not typically involve mortgage documents, there are other documents that can present sellers with challenges unless they consult with an experienced real estate attorney.
A poorly drafted Brokerage Agreement can result in a seller being liable for a brokerage commission even if a sale does not occur, or to pay more than one brokerage commission. HKQ Law can help you avoid these outcomes. We can also provide guidance as to what you need to include, and don’t need to include (e.g., psychological stigmas) in your Seller’s Disclosure.
We make certain that the all-important Purchase Agreement best meets the seller’s needs, and that the deed is properly prepared for the sale of the property.
By carefully reviewing the Title Report HKQ Law can identify any legal issues which may delay the sale of your home. If a problem is found, we will work to address it prior to the sale. At the closing, our Real Estate team can help the seller negotiate any sudden changes.
Selling/Buying/Leasing Commercial Property
While buying or selling a home can be challenging, commercial real estate transactions can be daunting. Not only is there typically a lot more money at stake, the process is much more complex. To mitigate liability issues, commercial sales, purchases and leases are usually made by an entity such as a corporation or limited liability company. HKQ Law Business Attorney Kevin Walsh notes that “An experienced real estate attorney can help clients navigate the maze of commercial real estate regulations.”
Commercial real estate transactions may be subject to laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Further complicating these transactions are the various methods of structuring purchases and sales, or lease options.
In commercial real estate transactions, offers and contracts can include numerous contingencies involving issues such as financing, structural integrity, zoning and environmental compliance. Commercial buyers and lessees generally are not afforded the same legal protections that apply to residential transactions. The disclosures required for those transactions may not be required for commercial real estate. Buyers must exercise due diligence. If the results of the due diligence are not to the buyer’s liking, the sale can be put in jeopardy.
Challenging property tax assessments
Whether you own residential property or commercial property, property taxes can be very costly. If those taxes are based on inaccurate assessments, you could be paying thousands of dollars more than you should be.
Given the fact that typical commercial or industrial property values are substantially higher than their residential counterparts, local taxing authorities may be tempted to impose higher tax rates on the former properties. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Uniformity Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution requires that “All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax.” Hence, a taxing authority is not permitted to implement a program targeting only the assessments of one sub-classification of properties, where that sub-classification is drawn according to property type (e.g., commercial, apartment complex, single family residential, or industrial.)
The right to appeal assessments is not limited to taxing authorities. Property owners also have that right, and the result of a successful appeal can be significant. A recent tax appeal filed by HKQ Law Attorney Brian P. Stahl saved a commercial shopping mall client a substantial amount of tax liability. The property, previously assessed at $47M, dropped to $24M, saving the client over $585,000 annually. Residential property owners may also realize substantial savings through a successful tax assessment appeal.
The appellant bears the burden of proof for tax assessment appeals. To successfully challenge the assessment, at least one of the following facts need to be established:
- The tax assessor relies on information that is incorrect or incomplete.
- The tax assessor sets the taxable value of your property higher than the taxable values of similar properties in your area.
- The tax assessor assumes that the current market value of your property is higher than it actually is.
Attorney Stahl cautions that “a tax assessment appeal can be a complex process, and one that is best handled by an attorney who is experienced in tax assessments, and familiar with the nuances of local property tax rules.”
Matters handled by the Real Estate Attorneys at HKQ Law include:
- Acquisition and sale of commercial and residential property
- Closing services for real estate acquisitions and sales
- Deed and lease review or preparation
- Negotiating, drafting, or reviewing sales and purchase agreements
- Property tax assessment appeals and litigation
- Providing advice on purchasing versus leasing
- Providing or reviewing seller's required disclosures
- Reviewing easements, right of ways, covenants and other restrictions
- Reviewing mortgage lending commitment and loan documents
- Reviewing zoning, local ordinances and land use issues
- Title search and title insurance
To speak to an HKQ Law attorney about a real estate issue or property tax assessment, call at (800) 760-1529.