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Real Estate Law: An Overview with Richard Spencer of Dow Golub Remels & Beverly, LLP

By Richard L. Spencer

These questions and answers are not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. To obtain legal advice visit with a licensed Texas attorney.

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Dow Golub Remels & Beverly, LLP, identified by Martindale-Hubbell, an authoritative source for information about U.S. lawyers, as one of "Texas' Top Ranked Law Firms." The Firm was founded in October 2001 by four lawyers who were each previously affiliated with prominent and well respected Houston law firms. The Firm has since steadily grown to its current size. Having practiced with larger Houston firms, the counselors at Dow Golub Remels & Beverly offer our clients a depth and range of experience commonly found in firms several times our size, thus combining the skills of a large firm with the immediate responsiveness of a small firm. We are large enough to assemble teams to handle major projects on a tight time schedule, yet small enough to value our relationships with every client and give each client the personal attention they deserve. The Firm provides legally sophisticated, creative and vigorous representation in an efficient and effective manner.

What are some of the services your company provides?

The Firm has in-depth experience in the areas of litigation, employment law, oil, gas and mineral law, and appeals, as well as business and real estate transactions. Significantly, seventy percent of our partners are members of a select group of Texas lawyers certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in an area of specialization, including Civil Appellate Law, Civil Trial Law, Commercial and Residential Real Estate Law, Labor and Employment Law, and Oil, Gas and Mineral Law. Furthermore, a majority of the Firm's partners have achieved an "AV Preeminent" rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. AV, the highest rating possible, indicates very high to preeminent legal ability and very high ethical standards as established by confidential opinions from members of the Bar. The Firm has also achieved an AV rating.

Can you briefly state for our readers a generalized definition of real estate law?

Real Estate Law has to do with the legal rights surrounding the transfer and use of real property. It also involves financing of real property transactions, construction, land use, and ad valorem tax matters.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of purchasing foreclosed homes or short sales?

The primary incentive for purchasing properties at either foreclosure sales or "short sales" is to try and buy the property for less than it is actually worth. These are sometimes referred to as "distress sales" because the seller is selling under some sort of economic distress.

The disadvantages of a foreclosure sale are that it is a cash sale and the property is being purchased without the benefit of a title policy or a survey. Without significant due diligence by the buyer there is a danger of undisclosed title defects and liens.

"Short sales" are where the lender will accept a pay-off of less than the full amount of the indebtedness on a property. Other than this recognition by the lender that the value of the collateral has fallen below the amount of the indebtedness, this type of sale generally follows the same path as any other residential sale. There is no requirement that a lender allow a "short sale".

What are some common litigation cases and how do you handle them?

Generally, the only sorts of litigation that real estate attorneys handle are evictions. Litigation matters are usually handled by trial lawyers. Texas has non-judicial foreclosures, which are generally handled by Real Estate Lawyers.

What sorts of transactions do real estate lawyers oversee?

Real estate attorneys are generally involved in documenting the purchase, sale, financing and use of real property. These documents can be deeds to convey the land, deeds of trust (mortgages) to secure a loan on land, leases to allow another person to use an owner's land, promissory notes to document the terms or payment for land, earnest money contracts for the sale of land, or construction contracts, to name a few.

What can be expected from a basic real estate contract?

A basic earnest money contract sets out the: buyer and seller; description of the property being sold; earnest money; sales price; closing date; financing terms; surveyor and title company. It gives a buyer time to examine title to the property and a survey before they are obligated to purchase the property. There are a number of other typical provisions, but these are the basics.

Does real estate law vary from state to state?

Yes, each state has its own real estate laws. In Texas such laws are codified in the Property Code. Different states have different rights and protections for landlords and tenants under their leasing laws. Some states require a lawsuit to foreclose a lien on real property, in Texas foreclosures are done by auction on the first Tuesday of each month. Most other states use the title rules of the American Land Title Association, only Texas issues policies under the Texas Land Title Association format.

What is the best way for people to reach you or your firm?

Richard L. Spencer, Dow Golub Remels & Beverly, LLP
9 Greenway Plaza, Suite 500, Houston, Texas 77046
rspencer@dowgolub.com

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About The Author

Rick Spencer is a transactional attorney who knows how to add value and close deals....

Phone: 713.526.3700

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