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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
Terry Brennan is an experienced corporate, intellectual property and emerging company transactions attorney who has been a partner at two national Wall Street law firms and a trusted corporate counsel. He focuses on providing practical, cost-efficient and creative legal advice to entrepreneurs, established enterprises and investors for business, corporate finance, intellectual property and technology transactions. As a partner at prominent law firms, Terry's work centered around financing, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, securities transactions, outsourcing and structuring of business entities to protect, license, finance and commercialize technology, manufacturing, digital media, intellectual property, entertainment and financial assets. As the General Counsel of IBAX Healthcare Systems, Terry was responsible for all legal and related business matters including health information systems licensing agreements, merger and acquisitions, product development and regulatory issues, contract administration, and litigation. Terry is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was an Editor of the law review. He is active in a number of economic development, entrepreneurial accelerators, veterans and civic organizations in Florida and New York.
I'm a Washington-licensed lawyer specializing in trademark practice and with an extensive trademark education and academic background. I currently work with domestic and international businesses seeking trademark protection in the U.S. by conducting trademark searches, providing legal advice, submitting USPTO applications, and preparing responses to office actions. I'm passionate about trademark law and always looking forward to helping small and medium businesses promote their value by having a registered federal trademark. If you have questions or concerns about trademark/copyright/IP licensing and require legal advice, feel free to contact me so we can have a first chat.
Mr. Pomeranz serves as the principal of Pomeranz Law PLLC, a boutique law firm representing clients across myriad industries and verticals. Before founding the firm, Mr. Pomeranz served as Senior Vice President, Legal & Compliance and General Counsel of Mortgage Connect, LP in 2017. Mr. Pomeranz also served as Counsel, Transactions for Altisource Portfolio Solutions S.A. (NASDAQ: ASPS) beginning in 2013, and was based in the company’s C-Suite in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. Mr. Pomeranz began his career with Mainline Information Systems, Inc. as an in-house attorney.
I have 10 years experience providing general counsel, in the form practical and timely legal advice, under strict deadlines to individuals and various business unit stakeholders, balancing commercial needs with legal concerns at large corporations and start-ups. I am skilled at reviewing, analyzing, drafting and negotiating commercial and government contracts globally for the procurement and sale of services and goods. I also help clients ensure compliance with regulations (including data privacy), laws and contractual obligations and protect, enforce and exploit intellectual property rights and support in the development of IP strategy. I am a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) licensed by the IAPP - International Association of Privacy Professionals.
Over 15 year experience drafting, reviewing and negotiating contracts both as in-house counsel and in law firms, including my own law firm.
Rinky S. Parwani began her career practicing law in Beverly Hills, California handling high profile complex litigation and entertainment law matters. Later, her practice turned transactional to Lake Tahoe, California with a focus on business startups, trademarks, real estate resort development and government law. After leaving California, she also served as in-house counsel for a major lending corporation headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa as well as a Senior Vice President of Compliance for a fortune 500 mortgage operation in Dallas, Texas prior to opening Parwani Law, P.A. in Tampa, Florida. She has represented various sophisticated individual, government and corporate clients and counseled in a variety of litigation and corporate matters throughout her career. Ms. Parwani also has prior experience with state and federal consumer lending laws for unsecured credit cards, revolving credit, secured loans, retail credit, sales finance and mortgage loans. She also has served as a special magistrate and legal counsel for numerous Florida County Value Adjustment Boards. Her practice varies significantly from unique federal and state litigation cases to transactional matters. Born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, Ms. Parwani worked in private accounting for several years prior to law school. Her background includes a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate from Iowa (currently the license is inactive) and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation (currently the designation is inactive). Ms. Parwani or the firm is currently a member of the following organizations: Hillsborough County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Association. Ms. Parwani is a frequent volunteer for Fox Channel 13 Tampa Bay Ask-A-Lawyer. She has published an article entitled "Advising Your Client in Foreclosure" in the Stetson Law Review, Volume 41, No. 3, Spring 2012 Foreclosure Symposium Edition. She is a frequent continuing legal education speaker and has also taught bankruptcy seminars for the American Bar Association and Amstar Litigation. She was commissioned by the Governor of Kentucky as a Kentucky Colonel. In addition, she teaches Immigration Law, Bankruptcy Law and Legal Research and Writing as an adjunct faculty instructor at the Hillsborough Community College Ybor campus in the paralegal studies program.
Possesses extensive experience in the areas of civil and transactional law, as well as commercial litigation and have been in practice since 1998. I addition I have done numerous blue sky and SEC exempt stock sales, mergers, conversions from corporations to limited liability company, and asset purchases. I have worked in commercial litigation, corporate and transactional law, intellectual property and bankruptcy. In recent years I have expanded my practice to include family law, personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death.