Purchasing a home is a big deal, especially if it is your first home. For most people, their homes are the highest-value assets they will ever own. After you sign your purchase contract, most home buyers hire a title and escrow company to investigate their title, as recommended by their broker. There are downsides to hiring a run-of-the-mill title company to handle the legalities of the transfer of title, and the purchase of your home. 

Title Companies and Real Estate Agents do Not Owe You a Legal Duty

Title agents are mainly responsible for making sure your property sale closes on the closing date. They do not act as your legal representative, and they do not have a legal duty to work on behalf of your best interests. On the contrary, a real estate attorney owes his or her client a duty to represent the client’s best interests. Your lawyer only has one main concern, and that is representing your legal interests throughout the sale of the home. Title companies are also limited in what they can do to help you. They cannot do the things that lawyers are trained to do, such as the following:

  • Negotiate on your behalf
  • Push back against requests from the other party that are unrealistic or unfair
  • Advise you when backing out of the deal might be in your best interest
  • Refuse to close the real estate transaction until certain conditions are met 

Title companies may be able to push both parties into closing, but only an attorney can ensure that your legal and financial interests are represented throughout the entire process. Your lawyer owes you a duty to ensure that you receive the best deal possible from the real estate transaction.

You Will Often Save Money by Hiring a Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer to help you through your real estate transaction does not cost much more than hiring a title company. In some cases, the cost will be the same. Even if the cost is the same, lawyers often provide a much better value of the price. Lawyers can negotiate on behalf of their clients, while title companies cannot. For example, a lawyer can call the other party and firmly negotiate, or demand that the other party pay some or all of the closing costs of the transaction. 

If there is a contract dispute or a problem with the title, the title company is limited in how they can address the issue. On the contrary, a lawyer can use his or her legal knowledge to resolve the title issue efficiently and quickly. Lawyers have the overall knowledge of property law that title companies do not have. In many cases, when lawyers are involved in real estate transactions, both parties save time when it comes to closing out the deal. 

Hiring a Lawyer Will Give You Peace of Mind

We have all heard horror stories regarding real estate transactions that revealed extremely serious problems. Perhaps you discover a serious problem with the title. Or, perhaps the property is not zoned correctly. When you hire a lawyer to review your transaction, you will rest easier at night knowing that your lawyer is reviewing the transaction for any potential problems. Lawyers understand the nuances involved in real estate transactions in a way that realtors and title company employees do not. 

Your Attorney can Help You Resolve a Contract Dispute

Sometimes, real estate transactions never actually close. The two major causes of a failure to close involve contract disputes and title issues. Some title issues cannot be resolved in time to close on the house. They may require legal action, such as submitting a quiet title lawsuit. If you have hired a lawyer to represent your best interests, your lawyer will already be familiar with your situation and can quickly take whatever legal action is necessary to keep the deal alive. 

If you have not hired a lawyer at this point, you will need to schedule an initial consultation, meet with a new lawyer, and bring your new lawyer up to speed on the details of your case. All of this will cost you valuable time. While you work to find a new attorney, the issue may escalate between you and the other party. When you have hired your own lawyer from day one, you will be prepared and ready to handle any potential problems that arise during the real estate process.

Real Estate Lawyers are Different From Attorneys

Real estate agents may know a lot about the home buying process. Yet, they will never have the knowledge and experience of lawyers. Even brokers and agents with decades of experience selling properties in your local real estate market do not understand the legal intricacies of real property issues. Also, real estate agents are forbidden from giving any type of legal advice to their clients. The Florida Association of Realtors as well as Florida law prohibit real estate agents from offering legal advice. 

On the contrary, lawyers can edit your purchase agreement to make it better to suit your needs. Most realtors use boilerplate, generic purchase agreements. While those may work in some cases, in many cases, they don’t adequately protect you as the purchaser of the home. Your lawyer can help you negotiate the terms of your purchase agreement so that you won’t have to use the generic boilerplate information. Your lawyer will also go over your purchase agreement with you before you sign it so you will understand how the contract works. This is especially helpful if you are a first-time homebuyer. 

Contact an Experienced Real Estate Lawyer

Are you considering purchasing your first home? If so, we can help. We have helped many clients throughout South Carolina successfully close on their new homes. Contact our experienced Blufton, South Carolina real estate lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation.

five common domestic violence defenses
five common domestic violence defenses

Our nation’s courts take domestic violence charges extremely seriously. Relationships are complicated and both men and women can also be victims of domestic violence. Experts believe that the coronavirus pandemic has caused an increase in domestic violence cases across the country. With job loss and other economic challenges, tensions are on the rise between family members. 

While prosecutors should take domestic violence charges incredibly seriously, false accusations of domestic violence do happen. When someone mistakenly or unjustly accuses someone else of domestic violence, the defendant’s professional and personal lives are at stake. It is incredibly important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the following common domestic violence defenses. 

  1. Lack of Proof

Domestic violence cases often come down to a “he said/she said” situation. In most cases, the majority of evidence in domestic violence cases consists of victim and witness statements. In some cases, a fight does occur, but only escalates into angry screaming and finger-pointing, which is not enough to rise to the crime of domestic violence. Thus, in many domestic abuse cases, you will be able to poke holes in the story. In criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proof. 

They must prove all of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Experienced defense lawyers can poke holes in the prosecutor’s case, showing the judge and jury that the prosecutor has not met his or her burden of proof. If the prosecutor cannot prove the crime, the jury will find the defendant not guilty. The more time defendant’s lawyers spend investigating the case, the more evidence they can typically find to make arguments for lack of evidence. 

  1. Deliberately False Accusations

Unfortunately, men and women have falsely accused a spouse or partner of domestic violence purposefully. Sometimes, in child custody and divorce cases, one spouse will make false accusations against a spouse or partner in order to bolster their own position in custody or divorce proceedings. For example, a mother who is seeking sole custody may make a false domestic violence claim in order to keep her children close. 

The best way to defend against deliberately false domestic violence accusations is to find inconsistencies in the plaintiff’s testimony of what happened to prove that he or she is lying. Defendants can do so by comparing police reports against eyewitness accounts. If the case proceeds to a trial without a plea bargain, your defense lawyer can cross-examine the person who is making domestic violence accusations against you. 

  1. Law Enforcement Officers are Charging the Wrong Suspect

In some cases, domestic violence victims accuse the wrong perpetrator. They either make this mistake or on purpose for their own personal reasons. When victims identify the wrong abuser, it is extremely important to gather as much evidence as possible. Your defense team will need to prove that you had an alibi when the alleged domestic violence incident happened. Doing so will prove that you could not have been at the scene of the domestic violence incident.

  1. Self-Defense

The court system is often extremely harsh when it comes to domestic violence cases. Unfortunately, domestic violence is often messy. Many domestic violence disputes involve two or more people who are both lashing out. When law enforcement officers arrive at the scene of a crime, they often cannot figure out who actually committed a crime. Similarly, they often do not have a clear understanding of who was at fault and whether one person who was involved was engaged in self-defense. 

Every state recognizes a person’s right to self-defense. Anybody who is placed in a dangerous situation must be able to protect themselves from injuries and death. Even if someone is harming you, you always have the right to protect yourself through reasonable force. 

If you used self-defense during a domestic violence incident, you will need to prove that your safety was in imminent danger. You will also need to prove that you were justified in causing physical harm because you were just protecting yourself. 

If you need to make a self-defense claim in a domestic violence dispute, you will have an uphill battle to protect your rights. You will not be appearing as a victim in front of the judge and jury, but rather, you will be seen as the domestic violence offender. The sooner you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to develop your legal defense, the better. 

The Definition of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence involves causing injury or harm to a household member, or threatening or attempting to cause harm or injury to a household member while being able to carry out the threat of attempted harm. Violating a domestic violence protection order, or trespassing in a domestic violence shelter is also a crime. 

Only certain relationships are considered domestic violence crimes, including spouses, former spouses, people who parent children together, and people of the opposite sex who live together, or who have lived together. Domestic violence crimes that are particularly aggressive are called “domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.” If you are charged with that crime, it is even more important that you contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. 

Domestic violence crimes can be charged as misdemeanors and felonies. The penalties for domestic violence are serious, and the penalties for aggravated domestic violence are even more severe. The penalties include five years of imprisonment. The facts of the case will determine how prosecutors charge the defendant. 

Contact Our Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyers as Soon as Possible

Domestic violence convictions can be devastating for you and your family. At Bannon Law Group, LLC, our skilled domestic violence lawyers are here to help. We will gather evidence and determine which defenses will be the most valuable in your case. If someone has accused you of domestic violence, contact our law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.