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Michigan Real Estate 101 

Real Estate Overview

Real estate law deals with real property, which entails land and buildings. This practice area is wide, varied, and usually implicates other areas of the law.  Common real estate issues include purchases and sales, leases, development, finance and compliance with local ordinances.

The information provided should not be relied upon nor used in replacement of professional legal advice. Consult with your local Michigan real estate attorney for legal advice.

Buying and Selling Real Estate in Michigan

The buying and selling of property involves a contractual transaction between two or more parties.  It is advised that both the buyer and seller retain an attorney when selling or purchasing real property.  The seller’s attorney will typically draft the contractual agreement, or at the very least, ensure the contractual terms meet his goals.  The seller’s attorney will also advise his client in matters regarding financing the sale.  The buyer’s attorney is typically tasked with, not only ensuring an acceptable contractual agreement, but also with ascertaining whether there are any issues involving environmental violations, bad title, ownership/possession concerns, tax or lien problems and other related surprises which could be potentially dangerous.  This step is called “due diligence.”

Leasing

A party in possession of property can transfer his possession rights to another party in a leasing arrangement.  The parties spell out the terms of this agreement in a contract typically identified as a “lease” or “lease agreement.” State law generally governs leases, and provides what terms and provisions are acceptable or unacceptable.

It’s very important that both the lessee and lessor fully understand the terms and their implications.  Both a lessee and lessor should consult with a real estate attorney prior to entering any lease agreement. 

Zoning

Zoning refers to the allowable use of a piece of property. In other words,  a parcel’s zoning classification determines how and for what purpose the property can be used. Generally, properties are zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial uses. In addition, zoning categories include sub-categories that detail particular uses and restrictions. Zoning becomes an issue when an individual wants to use a property for a purpose other than what its classification allows.  An individual should consult with a Michigan real estate attorney when seeking to obtain a zoning variation.

Commercial/Industrial/Residential

What a property can be used for is determined by the zoning classification of that particular parcel. As covered under the “zoning” section of this guide, properties generally are zoned for commercial, residential, or industrial use. Residential zoned properties are used for homes, commercial zoned properties are used for businesses, and industrial zoned properties are used for factories.

Moreover, a property owner is able to change their property’s zoning classification if they chose so. A zoning conversion process depends upon a number of factors and is hardly considered an easy feat. 

Financing

Real estate could be financed through many different arrangements; commonly through a mortgage or land contract. Under a mortgage arrangement, the buyer usually comes up with a small down payment, with the bank financing the rest. Although the buyer technically owns the property, the bank places a lien against the house to protect the cash it leant. Under a land contract arrangement, the seller finances the purchase.

Both arrangements have their own pros and cons and the transactions are largely governed by state laws. Disputes often arise between the lender and borrower regarding the terms, rights, obligations or the status of a loan. It’s good practice to consult with a real estate attorney prior to accepting a loan and during any disputes a borrower may have, including foreclosure.

Foreclosures

Simply put, foreclosure is a legal action the lender initiates to take a property from the borrower. This step is taken when the borrower “defaults” on a mortgage. A default is a failure on behalf of the borrower to perform something promised in the loan contract. The most common default is the failure to pay the monthly payments. Generally, a borrower has certain rights to the property foreclosed, including time to come up with the payments missed.

Foreclosures can be avoided, fixed, and even attacked if the mortgage was sold using predatory lending tactics. Borrowers have rights and options that may allow them to stop a foreclosure process, re-negotiate their mortgage, and possibly reduce the principal (amount) owed. We recommend you consult with your foreclosure attorney regarding your options. 

Free Consultation

If you're faced with a real estate legal issue and would like to learn more about youre options, our real estate lawyer would be glad to meet with you. We will go over your options and answer any questions you may have during your free consultation. 

Give us a call at (248) 825-8042 to schedule a free consultation. Our offices are located in Troy, Warren, and Detroit. 

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