The Bannon Law Group, LLC: Focusing on Real Estate
There are some real benefits to being a grown up, and having the names and numbers of professional problem solvers at-the-ready is one of them. Over a lifetime, successfully adulting comes with the realization that interdependence is far superior to independence, particularly when building a support system of trusted people who can fix leaky pipes, who know just the tweak to keep your little roadster running, who will maintain your pearly-whites, press your shirts with the exact right amount of starch, or keep you on the legal, straight-and-narrow.
Jim and Meredith Bannon, attorneys, partners, and principals at The Bannon Law Group, LLC, have seen a shift in how clients are utilizing their services. “There was a time when people only called an attorney in a crisis,” Meredith Bannon said. “We’re very open and we’re very approachable. People are finding they can call and run an idea by us, knowing we want to help prevent big mistakes.”
With over a decade of legal practice, including extensive litigation and trial experience, the Bannons have found the focus of their firm naturally honing-in on real estate transactions and litigation in response to what is happening in the local market. “Given the growth of the area, it’s kind of an organic thing,” Meredith Bannon said. “Right now, Bluffton is exploding and so real estate closings naturally grow as the market grows. As you have more people moving, more property changing hands, you’re going to have more litigation issues.”
Responding proactively to these changes, the Bannons have been reinvesting in the firm to enhance their ability to service everyone involved in the process. Expanding their office space about a year ago, the practice has added a full-time paralegal, bringing their team to three experienced real estate paralegals, and they have made a significant investment in bannonclosings.com, their secure real estate closings portal.
The portal is an online dashboard where all the information and documentation related to a specific real estate transaction is stored. “You log in and get instant status updates of where we are in the process,” Meredith Bannon said. “It allows a collaboration instead of sending e-mails back and forth.
“The focus for our portal was to collaborate efforts and make sure it was a spot where everybody can actually share information.” Access in varying degrees is granted to clients, attorneys, lenders, and the title abstractor. “It’s more of a focal point for the collection of information, versus each of us maintaining our own separate file. We saw it as not only a new thing to the market and a new way to service our clients, but a new way to add an additional service for our referral partners. We were very excited to create this, particularly for agents who might have multiple closings with us; they can get a status update on all their closings in one spot. To our knowledge, we are the only people in the state who have it.”
“Organization is such a big part of it,” Jim Bannon said. “What I think is great is, if you’re super organized, you’re really going to like it, because everything is so organized for you. And if you’re not organized, you are so thankful this is all taken care of; it’s all just right there where you can see it.”
Jim and Meredith Bannon, attorneys, partners, and principals at The Bannon Law Group, LLC
Alongside the uptick in real estate transactions, Bannon Law Group is seeing more claims of adverse possession. “Adverse possession is where someone moves onto a piece of property and acts as if it is theirs, even though it is not,” Jim Bannon said. “In South Carolina, there’s a benchmark at 10 years when you can come to own that property by adverse possession.” While working to determine rightful ownership, it is beneficial having a team like the Bannons who do not shy away from the courtroom experience, however, encourage sitting down and figuring it out before the process comes to full-blown litigation.
Having legal counselors like The Bannon Law Group in your circle of trusted, problem solvers gives you the ability to proactively address personal and business legal needs. “People are being more proactive,” Meredith Bannon said. “We want to mitigate problems so that when things do go bad, we all are very clear on our rights, obligations, our remedies. I am getting more questions about contracts: contracts of sale, contracts of employment, contracts of partnerships, contracts of service. I’m seeing more people having the faith and confidence to start a new business.” Wanting to protect themselves before problems arise, they are reaching out to their legal advisors and setting everything up with the protections that good advice and well-written contracts provide.
“It’s become clear that the focus of our business is real estate and real estate litigation,” Jim Bannon said. Further making themselves familiar with the local real estate and building industry, the Bannons are members of the Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association, participate in events with the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors, and provide continuing education seminars through the Hilton Head Island Bar Association.
Living in the local community, the Bannon family includes Emma Grace, their up-and-coming kindergartner at Cross Schools in Bluffton. Meredith Bannon is on the board of Hopeful Horizons, the newly formed non-profit forged from the merger of Hope Haven of the Lowcountry and CODA (Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse). “With Hopeful Horizons, we know that if you treat the whole family, you prevent a whole lot of other risk factors.”
Jim Bannon is president of the Literacy Center, where the group’s Family Literacy 360 Program initiative assists adults and children. “People who are here who want to learn to read and write English are the kind of people we want to have here. Those are the people who want to succeed in our part of the world, and we want to try to help make that happen.”
Family-minded and community-oriented, Jim and Meredith Bannon are guiding and adapting their law practice to best serve their clients’ needs. Turning up on speed dials and Rolodexes across the Lowcountry, The Bannon Law Group is at-the-ready, building long-term relationships, preventing problems when they can, and solving problems when needed.
The Bannon Law Group, LLC is located at 10 Westbury Park Way, Suite A, Bluffton. For more information, please call (843) 428-2166 or visit www.bannonlawgroup.com
I help people move into their dream homes or sell their former dream homes every day. I see the stress. I do all I can to minimize the strain. I intellectually understand all the parts of purchasing and selling property. And this month, I dove in and re-experienced the stress of buying a new house, selling the old and, yes, the horror of moving. I now have a new appreciation for the emotional side of purchasing and selling property. So, I owe an apology to all of my clients that I have talked off the ledge, that I have shaken my head at when they didn’t follow my advice, to the clients I thought were mentally unbalanced but, in reality, were just moving. I get it. I am you. I am a bundle of nerves, and I am officially over it. We moved less than five miles within Bluffton, but the pain, stress and emotional shutdown all showed up. Did I mention we got a puppy too?
At the time of publication, I should be calmly holding all my possessions that bring me joy and placing them in their new, organized, clean, color-coordinated bins. Meanwhile, if you actually follow the tips I give professionally as listed below, you can avoid the heartache and wine bills I have incurred:
Find a lender you like. Don’t worry about rates and terms. If you like your lender and feel you can tell them what you want without judgment (e.g. I need to include the cost of building a pool to be my best self this summer), they will find you the best rate and terms. Sometimes, you don’t even know certain loan products exist unless your lender tells you. Thus, find one you like and who will come to your pool parties. You are paying them, and they want your business. Insider tip: Make sure you have a prequalification letter on letterhead prior to visiting those new houses—it strengthens your offer and helps you avoid disappointment.
Find a real estate agent you like and stick with them. If you are selling your house, select a Realtor at least a month prior to your anticipated “go live” date. An experienced real estate agent will tell you what to fix, what to declutter (they don’t care about the joy your possessions bring at this point—just the money!), and how to stage. This is priceless. Tiny little fixes pay big returns on the market (returns that can go toward that tiki bar at the end of your new pool). Typically, as a seller, you will be paying both Realtor commissions. Ask your Realtor how they are going to market, how they are going to differentiate your listing, and what a realistic timeline is. Your Realtor should be your truth speaker—even if it is sometimes brutal.
If you are a purchaser, a real estate agent is vital. You are not paying their commission, yet they will only represent your interest. Choose one and stick with them. A purchaser’s real estate agent will find listings you may have overlooked and help broker stronger deals.
Pick a strong team. Sense a trend here? The difference between a good and bad closing experience lies in the team you field. An insurance agent and an attorney who know the market and have to see you in Publix can save you money and heartache. Don’t skimp on services here. Do not assume that all attorneys or insurance companies are the same. Choosing the cheapest option can result in delays, frustration and inaccuracies. Your Realtor will have recommendations for both—ask them honestly who will be responsive and protect your deal.
Plan ahead. Where are you going to put your stuff the day of closing? Where are you going to sleep? Are you going to be in town to sign your paperwork? Figuring out the practical part will make the transactional part go smoothly.
Take deep breaths. Once you have a contract, there is still the stress of repairs, financing, and the actual logistics of moving. Remember that everyone wants the deal to close. Some may say it is because no one gets paid unless the deal closes, but that is just ugliness talking (did I mention I am looking at the high-end tile option for the pool?). As an attorney and a functioning member of society, I’m excited for my clients and want to protect them. They become part of my clan, and we are fiercely protective. I enjoy working with the team of lenders, Realtors, buyers, sellers, and various shaman to get the deal closed.