May 23, 2018

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Pennsylvania Real Estate Law

Philadelphia Law Firms

Purchasing property or a home is one of life’s most significant investments, and if it us your first real estate purchase it is easy to lose sight of the risks in the excitement. Even renting a home is a real estate transaction, governed by real estate law, and can have serious financial consequences if you do not know what you are getting into. Real estate law covers a wide range of topics involving property.

Pennsylvania Real Estate Law

The following issues fall under real estate law:

  • Buying and selling residential property
  • Buying and selling commercial property
  • Tenant/landlord issues
  • Commercial leasing
  • Homeowners associations
  • Condominium law
  • Zoning and land use
  • Financing
  • Boundaries and easements
  • Neighbor disputes
  • Water rights
  • Mineral rights
  • Foreclosure
  • Eviction
  • Eminent domain
  • Title disputes
  • Development
  • Right-to-farm
  • Housing and commercial property discrimination

Housing Discrimination

Housing discrimination, based on the following, is prohibited by law:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Age, if 40 years of or older
  • Pregnancy
  • Familial status – children under 18 living in the household
  • Handicap or disability
  • Use of service or support animal due to disability
  • Handler or trainer of service or support animal
  • Relationship or association with a disabled person

Housing discrimination may occur in renting, buying, selling, obtaining financing, and other aspects of real estate transactions. It includes refusing to rent or sell to someone, treating tenants less favorably than other tenants, harassment by a landlord, open advertisement for rentals or sales and more subtle forms of discouragement from sales based on any of the above criteria.

Before You Sign a Purchase Agreement

When you find the “perfect” house or land, you want to lock it in as fast as you can so that no one can buy it out from under you. However, before you sign a purchase agreement, it is crucial that you understand what you are committing to and how to protect yourself. You should always consult with an experienced real estate attorney before signing the contract and make sure that all of the contingencies you need are included.

Contingencies are conditions which must be met in order for you to be held to the contract. Examples include:

  • Home inspection
  • Your ability to secure financing
  • Selling a property or home you already own
  • Appraisal
  • Other inspections, such as well inspection
  • Seller disclosures
  • Homeowners association documents
  • Zoning and land use
  • Specific repairs or improvements

The contingencies in the purchase agreement can give you the opportunity to do more research so that you know if the home has any problems or restrictions which would prevent you from enjoying and using it as you intend to or in some way decreases its actual value or its value to you. Including your ability to secure financing or to sell property you already own may seem obvious, you cannot buy the property if you do not have the money, but it must be included in the contract.