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Need help with a Land Contract?
What Is A Land Contract?
A land contract, also called a land contract agreement or purchase and sale agreement, is a legally-binding document used in the purchase of land, whether vacant or occupied by existing buildings or homes. It is a type of seller financing. Unlike a mortgage, the purchaser makes payments to the seller until the balance is paid in full.
If you need help drafting a land contract, it is best to speak with real estate lawyers. They can provide legal advice and guidance throughout the process.
Learn more about land contracts by checking out this article .
How Land Contracts Work
Under a land contract agreement, the buyer typically agrees to make a down payment and a promise to make periodic, routine payments on the balance’s remainder with interest. Depending upon the agreement, the monthly payment, term length, and interest rate can vary widely.
It is essential for buyers to keep in mind that they do not legally hold the property title until the balance is paid in full. They hold a deed of trust or equitable title to live on site or develop the property through a ground lease in the interim.
These are the steps involved with buying a property with land contracts:
- Step #1: The property owner agrees to sell and finance a property to a buyer.
- Step #2: The property owner works with real estate lawyers to draft a land contract.
- Step #3: The parties may collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of the land contract.
- Step #3: The property owner keeps the property titles and provides the buyer with a deed of trust.
- Step #4: The buyer continues to make payments according to the terms and conditions of the land contract.
- Step #5: The property owner and buyer clear the title from any applicable mortgages.
- Step #6: The property owner titles the deed over to the buyer when the balance is paid in full.
- Step #7: Both parties should retain documentation of the transaction for at least 7 years following it.
Some U.S. states use land contracts more often than others do. Both parties are encouraged to carefully consider the terms and conditions of the deal with property lawyers. Doing so may help you avoid future disputes and misunderstandings, primarily when you use a land contract agreement.
Here is an article about how a land contract works .
Typical Terms in a Land Contract
While the typical terms in a land contract can be reasonably standardized, it is critical that you have real estate lawyers complete a contract review before signing it. This strategy helps you avoid legal mistakes and common pitfalls. Doing so can also help you save money in the long run by avoiding disputes.
These are the typical terms in a land contract:
- Name and address of all parties
- A description of the property
- Acknowledgement of the person who owns the property
- Describe easements on the property
- Include land contract limitations
- Reference any liens on the property
- Determine the terms of payment
- Assign an interest rate with a land contract calculator
- Ascribe how to handle late payments
- Identify a contract start and end date
- Assign party responsibilities and obligations
- Clarify the terms of the insurance
- Set the terms for transferring the property ownership
- Include warranties and guarantees
- Assert your right to acceleration
- Insert state-specific clauses and terms
- Provide a blank signature and dateline
After legally drafting your document, you can then arrange for a final signing with the buyer. Once signed, take a scan or photograph of the document, and disseminate copies to all relevant parties. You can also make hard photocopies that you can reference later in case disputes arise in the future.
Check out this article later for more information about the terms of a land contract .
Advantages of A Land Contract
Since a land contract is an alternative form of financing, there are advantages and disadvantages of using them. A traditional lender is not involved, which means that the buyer and seller should consider the terms carefully.
The advantages of a land contract include:
- Advantage #1: There is no involvement of a traditional lender
- Advantage #2: The seller gets to flexibly establish the terms and conditions of the sale
- Advantage #3: The buyer can close immediately and counter with terms and conditions to the seller
- Advantage #4: There are no lender requirements, which means that the closing costs are less under a land contract
- Advantage #5: There are tax and income benefits for both the buyer and seller
As you can see, there are distinct advantages of land contracts. However, there are disadvantages that buyers and sellers should also consider. These risks may outweigh the reward depending upon your situation.
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Disadvantages of a Land Contract
The most significant disadvantage of a land contract is the amount of risk both parties take on. Therefore, it is critical for buyers to carefully select sellers and vice versa. Any concerns should be taken up with property lawyers in your state.
The disadvantages of a land contract include:
- Disadvantage #1: The title does not automatically pass to the purchaser in a land contract
- Disadvantage #2: The seller could be held legally responsible for inspection issues with local or state authorities
- Disadvantage #3: Forfeiture of a land contract by the purchaser is a fairly common occurrence
- Disadvantage #4: It can take several months for the seller to resume control of the property in case of buyer forfeiture
- Disadvantage #5: An existing mortgage supersedes a land contract, which can create problems for the buyer
If you are considering or contemplating buying or selling land through a land contract, real estate lawyers can help you draft a land contract agreement that sets clear guidelines and terms. They can also answer legal questions throughout the entire process.
Getting Help With A Land Contract
Whether you are facing a complicated or straightforward land contract deal, it is a wise choice to hire property lawyers to draft the agreement. Problems can arise at any given point. You will want to have an experienced legal professional on your side to help prevent them.
These are the ways that property lawyers can help you with getting a land contract:
- Offering professional contract reviews for fairness and compliance
- Providing legal advice when dealing with complicated land contract issues
- Assisting sellers when dealing with liens and title searches
- Handling a proper and lawful closing for both sides
- Contract negotiation for the conditions and terms of the land contract
- Preparing a closing statement for both parties
Property lawyers offer valuable advice and assistance when purchasing land or property through a land contract. They can also handle pressing questions related to costs or disputes.
If you choose to forgo your opportunity to work with property lawyers, it could result in future legal mistakes with negative ramifications. Avoid this critical mistake by hiring legal representation early on in the process.
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Meet some of our Land Contract Lawyers
Matan is an experienced M&A, corporate, tax and real estate attorney advising closely held businesses, technology start ups, service businesses, and manufacturers in purchases, sales, and other exit strategies. Matan works with founders and first-and-second generation owners to strategically transition businesses.
I am a business law attorney with over 10 years’ experience and a strong background in information technology. I am a graduate of the University of California Berkeley, a member of the Illinois bar and a licensed lawyer (Solicitor) of England and Wales. I actively partner directly with my clients or indirectly, as Of Counsel, to boutique law firms to streamline business practices and manage legal risks by focusing on essentials such as - business contracts, corporate structure, employment/independent contractor agreements, website terms and policies, IP, technology, and commercial related agreements as well as business risk and compliance guidance.
Engaging Transactions Attorney with extensive experience in commercial real estate / project finance that possesses a winning blend of subject matter expertise, skill in client relationship management, and practical experience. Leverages a unique mix of legal, strategic, and analytical expertise, consistently meeting and surpassing client expectations. Specialties: Commercial Real Estate Law, Contract Negotiation, Procurement, Lease/Buy/Sell Transactions, Business Consultations, Team Leadership, and Economic Development
Miami-based duly licensed attorney and customs broker with significant experience in various types of supply chain business agreements, as well as experience in entertainment law.
I am a New Jersey licensed attorney and I have been in practice for over seventeen years. My practice mainly consists of representing public entities (municipalities, school boards, etc) and businesses, both small and large. In that capacity, much of work consists of drafting, reviewing and revising contracts.
Jennifer is an experienced business law attorney who has worked with many startups as well as established corporations. With a strong background in contract creation and review, she will be able to ensure you and your business interests are always protected.
I am a corporate lawyer with expertise working with small businesses, venture capital and healthcare. Previously, I worked at large law firms, as well as head attorney for companies. I graduated from Harvard College and University of Pennsylvania Law School. I speak 5 languages (Spanish, French, Italian and Russian, plus English), visited over 60 countries, and used to compete in salsa dancing!