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Real Estate Law

Hawkins Law provides experienced counsel to clients involved in all types of commercial real estate and residential real estate matters.  Our practice includes all aspects of real estate law including issues of real estate ownership, occupancy, transfer, possession and litigation. 

Buyer Representation
As buyers, our clients know that they can rely on Hawkins Law to be a trusted source of complete information for their real estate transaction.  They recognize that many real estate transactions often require a greater depth of knowledge of real estate law to ensure that their interests are fully protected.  Our clients depend upon us to assist their real estate professional or recommend realtors with sufficient experience to recognize the benefit of legal counsel.

At Hawkins Law, we help our clients develop their purchase strategy from the ground up.  Like all other facets of the purchase agreement, the deposit amount should be carefully considered by the buyer.  Any deposit should be based not only on the purchase price offered, but with regard to the entirety of the purchase agreement terms.

Preparation of purchase contracts tailored to our client’s specific needs requires not only knowledge of current real estate laws but also knowledge of prevailing case law which is modified and interpreted by the courts on an ongoing basis.  Standard purchase agreement forms presented by some real estate professionals rarely address all of the buyer’s needs.  Builders, pre-construction brokers and shrewd sellers will sometimes attempt to saddle the buyer with significant expenses and transactional costs that do not necessarily benefit the buyer.  Failure to address these issues before executing the purchase contract can leave the unwary buyer burdened with considerable unforeseen obligations.  Hawkins Law works diligently on behalf of our clients to prevent a closing table ambush.

At Hawkins Law, we are always vigorous advocates for our clients.  When the time comes to close the transaction, Hawkins Law or our affiliated title agency, Hawkins Title, can serve as escrow agent to ensure that the transaction proceeds in a lawful and equitable manner.

Seller Representation
The sale of commercial or residential property can be an arduous task.  Often the seller’s first step is the initial meeting with the real estate agent and the signing of a listing contract which, among other things, includes the amount of the agent’s commission.  Some sellers are surprised to learn that they can negotiate the commission which they pay to a real estate agent.  We assist the sellers we represent in these negotiations as well as preparing a sale strategy for their property which can include an independent professional appraisal to determine the property’s highest and best use value.

Once an offer to purchase has been made, we will prepare the purchase contract or review the buyer’s purchase offer to ensure that issues such as liquidated damages, specific performance, warranties and representations that survive closing or certain environmental covenants which can be detrimental to the seller long after closing, are appropriately negotiated and/or excluded from the final purchase agreement.

Seller financed and/or “lease-to-own” transactions are another area in which Hawkins Law has considerable experience in representing the seller’s best interest.  Helping the seller determine the credit worthiness of a potential buyer and/or development of a “lease-to-own” agreement that separates the lease from the right-to-purchase agreement into separate contracts is just the beginning of how we ensure that our client’s long-term interests are protected.

Short Sale
Distressed sales such as short sales are particularly tricky transactions.  These transactions are very attractive to buyers because the property can often be obtained at a price below the appraised or market value.  Because the seller is in default and facing foreclosure and the lender must release title to the property accepting less than what the seller owes, a very complicated and time sensitive negotiation with the lender ensues. 

Hawkins Law has extensive experience in banking and finance as well as real estate law and has an affiliated full-service title agency in Hawkins Title.  It is the combination of this experience and the ability to handle the entire transaction “in-house” that often makes the difference in bringing these types of transactions to a successful conclusion. 

When we serve as buyer’s counsel, timely completion of the negotiations is not the only hurdle for this type of transaction.  Ensuring that the lender participates in the seller’s delivery of clear title to the buyer without a myriad of unforeseen costs such as intervening liens, transfer and conveyance fees, unpaid property taxes, real estate agent commissions, environmental impact assessments and appraisal fees are all very important.

As seller’s counsel, we work to ensure that issues such as liquidated damages, specific performance, warranties and representations that survive closing or certain environmental covenants are appropriately negotiated and/or excluded from the final purchase agreement.  Additionally, we work to ensure that mortgage deficiency judgments against the seller are properly defended or that conversion of the deficiency into 1099 taxable income are appropriately considered and negotiated for the best possible result.

Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure
Deed-In Lieu of Foreclosure or more simply referred to as “deed-in-lieu” is a type of distressed sale or property transfer wherein the lender accepts title to the property instead of pursuing a foreclosure action against a property owner who has fallen behind on the mortgage payments.  Depending upon the circumstances, this type of arrangement is sometimes preferable to both the lender and the property owner as it avoids the cost of the foreclosure and expedites a process that both parties see as inevitable. 

Hawkins Law has considerable experience in both lender representation and owner representation for deed-in-lieu negotiated transfers for commercial and residential real estate.

Purchase Contracts
Liquidated damages, specific performance, warranties and representations that survive closing, environmental covenants and certain types of insurance requirements are just some of the concepts that a buyer or seller can expect to find in a standard form purchase agreement offered by a realtor.  These contract issues are not always appropriate for the given transaction.  They can cause confusion and delay the closing or create the possibility of future litigation.

At Hawkins Law, we know real estate and real estate transactions.  We thoroughly evaluate every aspect of the real estate purchase, the goals of our client and the reasonable requirements of the parties on the other side.  The result is a succinct and complete purchase agreement that is appropriate for the transaction and one that allows the purchase to move along without undue confusion or delay. 

Loan Closings
Real estate loan closing services, commercial and residential, have been a central part of our professional services offering since our founding.  Both Hawkins Law and Hawkins Title can provide complete, on-site closing services to the clients we serve.

Deed Preparation
Whether a fiduciary, general warranty, special warranty or a quit claim deed or a deed with special considerations for registered land or for reserving a life estate is required, accurate and affordable deed preparation services are available through Hawkins Law.

Property Use Conversions
Conversion of an apartment building to condominiums, the subdivision of farm land for the construction of new homes or the conversion of a brown field industrial park into a retail shopping center are just a few examples of property use conversions that are necessary for the continued growth and progress of our communities.  Our experience with these types of development projects combined with a community-first, solutions oriented approach make Hawkins Law a natural choice for legal counsel in property use conversions.

Easements & Use Agreements
Permanent and temporary easements allow limited access to or use of property by other non-owner entities.  Because these agreements limit the use of the property by the owner as well, they should be prepared by an attorney with experience in these special types of legal agreements.

Hawkins Law has extensive experience in the preparation of easement and use agreements for property owners, government agencies, public utilities and construction companies.

Homeowner Associations
Preparation of original and amended homeowner association declarations, HOA liens, HOA lien foreclosure actions and general counsel of homeowner associations are all professional services available from Hawkins Law.           

Condominium Law
Condominium owners share more common property and payment for maintenance and repair services than most real estate owners.  As such, condominium association declarations, leases and time share agreements for condominiums should be carefully prepared by experienced legal counsel.

Hawkins Law offers experienced representation of condominium homeowner associations as well as individual condominium owners.

1031 Like-Kind Real Estate Exchanges
A popular vehicle for reinvestment of sale proceeds following the sale of commercial or investment property is the 1031 Exchange.  Taking its name from Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, this provision in the tax code allows for the sale of one investment property and the subsequent purchase of another “like-kind” investment property or properties while deferring the payment of capital gains tax, provided certain conditions are met.

Hawkins Law offers experienced representation in 1031 Exchanges and Reverse 1031 Exchanges as well as Qualified Intermediary services.

Property Tax Valuation Appeals
Hawkins Law has extensive experience in the representation of commercial property owners in board of revision hearings for property tax valuation appeals.  Important factors to consider include current lease and/or other income from the property, transactional documents from the purchase of the property and current appraised value of the property.  Hawkins Law assists our clients through every step of the tax valuation appeal process.

Zoning Variances
Community zoning plans must be augmented from time to time through a variance to allow certain types of desired development.  Hawkins Law offers legal counsel to individuals and to development companies seeking special zoning variances from local government authorities as well as representation before local zoning boards and committees.

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