Avoiding Pitfalls in Commercial Real Estate Transactions

Avoiding Pitfalls in Commercial Real Estate Transactions

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney If you are considering the purchase of commercial property, there are some key things you should know before you make an offer or sign a sales agreement. Commercial real estate transactions can be significantly more complex than residential transactions. In general, the dollar amounts are also much larger. Here are a few common pitfalls you should be aware of: Real estate law in North Carolina requires the seller to disclose any known defects with the property. That said, the seller may fail to do so, or he or she may not be aware of all issues with the property. The buyer should always have the property inspected by the appropriate professionals to ensure there are no hidden issues that would otherwise cause the buyer not to purchase the property. In residential transactions, a single home inspector is often qualified to inspect and report on the entire property; a commercial transaction may require more than one inspector (i.e., a structural engineer, electrical inspector, mold remediation specialist, etc.) It’s a good idea to make any offer to purchase contingent on the results of the inspection(s). Financing a commercial real estate purchase is also much more complex than a residential mortgage (and if you have ever signed the paperwork required by the state of North Carolina to purchase a home, that’s saying something!). Due diligence is required on the part of the buyer. I strongly recommend you have a commercial real estate attorney review any legal documents before you sign them. “Other considerations” is how I label this next category. There are a variety of outside issues...
What You Need to Know When Buying Your First Home

What You Need to Know When Buying Your First Home

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney Buying your first home can be an exciting (and sometimes scary) process. As you look at homes or floor plans, you are probably imagining what the house will look like once it becomes yours. Where will you put your furniture? What do you need to buy? What colors will you paint the rooms? Once you are ready to make an offer and become a homeowner, there are some things you should know before you sign on the dotted line. Here is a list of some of the more common things buyers need to know. This list is by no means all encompassing, so if you have questions about the process or the laws governing real estate transactions in North Carolina, you may wish to consult with an attorney: For most people, purchasing a first home will be the largest dollar transaction they have ever made. Your best bet is to get pre-approved by a reputable mortgage company before you begin house-hunting. It’s important to understand all the terms of the mortgage loan document before you sign. You are borrowing money from the bank and the property is being used to secure the loan. Should you default, you may lose your home and your credit will be damaged. When you make an offer on a home, you generally will provide earnest money to show your intent to purchase the home. These monies are typically held in escrow by the realtor and applied toward the purchase price at closing. Should you back out of the agreement, you will lose the earnest money. Many homes are part...
Understanding a Commercial Lease Agreement

Understanding a Commercial Lease Agreement

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney If you own a business or are planning to start one, at some point you will probably need to lease space for your business. While you might choose to purchase a property, most businesses begin by renting the necessary space. Most of us have rented apartments or homes and have seen boilerplate rental agreements. Various consumer protection laws govern these agreements and give lessee’s some modicum of protection. Commercial lease agreements are not governed by the same rules, so it is important to fully and completely understand any legal document you sign. There are a number of specific things you should look for in any commercial lease agreement, among them: The lease term should be clearly spelled out. We normally recommend asking for a shorter-term (1 or 2 years) so you are not locked in if your business fails or sees exponential growth requiring more space. Monthly payments should also be spelled out, to include any deposits required, late charges, interest rates and acceptable methods of payment. Termination and renewal terms should be defined. If you choose not to renew the agreement, how much notice must you give? In what form must that notice be provided? You don’t want to be stuck with a contract that renewed automatically because you failed to send notice via certified mail 60 days in advance. Likewise, if there is not an option to renew after the initial agreed-upon term, you could have to move unexpectedly. This sometimes happens when the landlord knows the building will be sold or renovated in the near future. What changes are you permitted...