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Title or Deed: Which One Do You Need?

Real estate attorneyYou’ve been working for months on that complex real estate transaction, and it’s finally coming together. Just a little paperwork left to be completed, and you’ll be ready to receive the deed. Or wait—is it the title? Most of the public uses the two terms interchangeably, and in the public mind both words represent the same general concept: proof of ownership of a property. But in legal terms, “deed” and “title” have quite different meanings; and if you have any hope of making sense out of a real estate deal, you need to understand the distinction. Titles vs. Deeds When you own a property completely, it’s true that you will possess both the title and the deed. But there’s only one of those things that you can file away in a file cabinet. "A deed is a legal document used to confirm or convey the ownership rights to a property,"…

The Responsibilities of a Rental Property Owner

Rental PropertyOwning a commercial or residential rental property comes with responsibilities. The most basic responsibility is proper upkeep and maintenance, to ensure the tenants can use the property as intended. Additional responsibilities are defined by federal, state, and local laws. Following is a general overview of landlord responsibilities (landlords may wish to consult an attorney to make sure they’re up to date on specific laws in their city or county). Disclosures Required by Law Buildings constructed before 1978 may contain lead-based paint, which is known to cause serious health problems, especially for children. Federal law requires owners of buildings built before 1978 to give prospective tenants a lead-based paint disclosure before they sign a lease. Maryland’s Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing law also requires property owners to register applicable properties with the state and to have their property inspected for lead prior to every change in occupancy, unless the property has been…

Have You Tested Your Home for Radon? 

Why Transparency Is Always the Best Policy When Selling a HomeRadon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It’s a natural gas that occurs as radium in soil breaks down, and it can seep into homes and buildings through cracks in the foundation, drains, and other openings. The Environmental Protection Agency says home radon levels should not exceed 4 picocuries per liter. Levels above 4 pCi/L should be professionally treated with a radon mitigation system. For less than $30, you can find radon test kits that detect whether radon is present in your home and, if so, whether its levels pose a threat to your health. Radon Risk in Maryland Generally, in areas where the soil has a higher concentration of radium, radon risk is elevated. But indoor radon concentration can vary considerably from one home to the next. In Maryland, anecdotal data shows that buildings west of Chesapeake Bay have higher concentrations of radon than buildings…

Understanding the Maryland Disclosure/Disclaimer Form

Reviewing NotesIn a previous blog, we wrote about latent defects, and how they apply to buying and selling residential property. When sellers are aware of latent defects (such as termite damage or a sewer line clogged with tree roots), they must disclose those defects on a Maryland Residential Property Disclosure and Disclaimer Form. If a new homeowner discovers a serious defect that wasn’t disclosed before sale, that means either the seller didn’t know of the defect or the seller deliberately misled the buyer about the condition of the property. To determine what actually occurred, the homeowner will likely need the help of an attorney. Disclosure vs. Disclaimer Using the same form, a seller may choose the route of disclosure or disclaimer. A disclaimer means that the seller offers the property “without representations and warranties as to its condition,” so it absolves the seller of responsibility, should a defect be later discovered.…

Transferring Real Estate: Deed Overview

Maryland Deed LawyerIn Maryland, the sale or transfer of property includes the creation of a deed, which is a legal document that defines each party’s rights and responsibilities. Deeds establish a binding agreement, but occasionally new information is discovered after the transfer or sale of property that may compromise the owner’s rights to the property. While it’s possible in many jurisdictions to file your own legal documents, the best way to protect yourself in a real estate transaction is to have a lawyer prepare your deeds. Maryland requires that a deed be prepared by a Maryland attorney to be accepted for recordation in the Maryland Land Records. Types of Deeds Three types of deeds apply to real estate transactions in Maryland: General Warranty Deed – This is a deed that sellers provide the buyer that guarantees the property is free of any liens or any other legal claims in its entire history.…