In the minds of many prospective home buyers, the most significant role their real estate attorney often plays involves the negotiation of sale terms as well as ensuring that all the documentation is drafted correctly. And with regard to the closings of most real estate deals, that attitude is correct. But conscientious real estate attorneys recognize that to protect their client’s interests, they must guard against other potential problems.
Preparation for real estate closings starts with thorough title searches both to confirm the boundaries of the property being sold and also to determine if there are any easements or covenants which apply to the particular realty that is involved. For established residential subdivisions, these kinds of disputes occur less frequently as established neighborhood have been subjected to rigorous surveys and previous title searches may have already revealed issues with the exact dimensions of a parcel. One issue that does recur involves joint use of a driveway or some other shared portion of adjacent parcels. With regard to less developed areas, the chances of a boundary dispute are somewhat greater and a thorough title search is indispensable.
An easement gives a municipality or a county, and utilities, the right to use a private landowner’s property for a specific public use. This can often include the local water authority needing to run a pipe under a property or an electric utility running a power line on or over someone’s property. There are many other types of easements which governments and utilities can employ in fulfilling various public functions such as widening a road or diverting water from a creek. It is important that the significance of these easements be explained to purchasers before any closing. In many instances, the only likely consequence is that some employees or contractors of a town or utility may need to come onto the property for a short period of time to perform some mundane task. Occasionally, though, it can be more costly. (The compensation landowners are entitled to under eminent domain law is a subject discussed in a recent post.)
Real estate attorneys should also identify any covenants which apply to the property in question. A covenant can involve a mandate included or incorporated into a previous deed conveying this property which limits the use of the property. One example is an agreement by many landowners in a particular area that some portion of land must be kept undeveloped. Or that an area near a lake must be maintained strictly for residential purposes. Like easements, the import of these covenants should be explained before a buyer proceeds with a closing.
The attorneys at Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. handle residential and other real estate transactions in New Mexico. Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. is located at 10400 Academy Road N.E., Suite 350 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Call the office at (505) 633-6298 to set up an appointment or visit the firm’s website at giddenslaw.com.