Fact Checked

What is Real Estate Litigation?

Ken Black
Ken Black

Real estate litigation is the process of finding a legal remedy to disputes involving matters of real property, whether that property is developed or not. Most of the time, this type of litigation results from disputes during the purchase, financing, or building of a property, though other disputes may also arise. Some attorneys, especially in larger metropolitan areas, may specialize in the area of real estate litigation, and have more than a basic understanding of the complex contracts that real estate often requires.

One of the most common types of real estate litigation involves contracts to purchase real estate. In some cases, the disputes may arise because of vague language in the contract, or because one of the parties did not carefully read the contract. In such a case, any breach of contract may be settled out of court before a lawsuit needs to be filed. If negotiation is not possible, or if one party is insistent, then the case may proceed to court. If eminent domain is the issue, then the dispute often involves the real value of the property.

Real estate documents.
Real estate documents.

Another likely time real estate litigation is possible concerns construction contracts. In some cases, the developer and contractor may have a dispute about the scope of a project or the quality of the finished work. If the dispute involves a quality issue, a lawyer may gather evidence by having an expert come in and evaluate the work and present those findings to the court. If the contract has already been paid, then one party may have to refund all or part of the cost. If the contract has not been paid, then a judge may determine how much is owed.

Financing disputes may be somewhat more rare in real estate litigation, but may also arise. For example, if two parties agree to share the cost of financing and disputes arise, one side may take the other side to court. In most cases, if there is a written contract, the court will rely on the terms set forth within that contract when making an award. Further, if a purchaser believes a mortgage lender has acted fraudulently, he or she may also seek a remedy in court.

Many people considering real estate litigation may choose to go with the a real estate attorney, sometimes called a property attorney. This is an individual who may have more experience practicing in real estate law. The choice of attorneys is up to the client, but if the matter is extremely complicated, or involves disputes in multiple states, then a specialist may be a wise choice.

Typically, real estate litigation is not a matter for the criminal courts, but a civil question. In some cases where fraud is actively perpetrated, however, criminal charges could also result. If the case is a civil case, all the property law attorney has to do is provide for a preponderance of the evidence.

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    • Real estate documents.
      Real estate documents.