What Is Real Estate Law?

Real estate law governs buying, using and selling land.

What are typically real estate law issues that people would need a lawyer for?

New Mexico is somewhat different from other states like California and New York where it’s commonplace for people to hire real estate attorneys when they’re purchasing or selling homes. It is generally not the practice in New Mexico. Every real estate agent in New Mexico uses the same document to purchase real estate as a template. You don’t usually need to hire a real estate lawyer if you’re purchasing a home through a real estate agent. 

However, if you own real estate and you wish to sell your property directly to the buyer, or if you are a buyer wishing to purchase property directly from an owner, then it is very important that your real estate contract contain clauses and or language which protects your sell or purchase.  

For instance, a contract should describe what happens if the buyer or seller commits a breach and describe how a party can move forward with terminating the contract if the other party defaults.  Without specific language in the real estate contract about what could happen in these scenarios, it can become quite difficult to terminate your contract, know what remedies are available to you if the other party breaches, ultimately regain possession of your property if you are the seller, and can become quite costly if a lawsuit ensues and lawyers are involved after the fact.

So, whether you are the seller or the buyer of a piece of the property and intend to personally finance the purchase rather than through a mortgage, you should definitely meet with an experienced real estate lawyer to make sure you are protected if the either party does something contrary to your best interests.

What kind of provisions would you write into a New Mexico real estate contract that would protect me as either the seller or buyer?

Some examples include the purchase price, terms of payment, what happens if a party defaults, warranties, insurance and tax provisions, buyer and/or seller rights, and the remedies available when there is a default. And then, probably the most important clause is the termination of the contract.

What is the termination of contract?

To terminate a contract means to end the contract prior to it being fully performed by the parties.   Termination of the contract occurs when either party defaults.

When terminating a real estate contract, it is extremely important to follow the termination provisions exactly as they are laid out in the contract. If, for example, proper notice is not sent out then you most likely have not terminated the contract correctly.

How would a seller default?

The usual circumstances that surround the default of a buyer is failure to make payments.  But what are examples of a seller default?  Some scenarios include not providing clear title to the buyer at the end of the contract, or perhaps the seller is the one who agreed to maintain insurance on the property or was supposed to make some type of improvements to the property and failed to do so, or if the seller is interfering with the buyer’s right to quiet possession.

If you have questions about a New Mexico real estate contract or anything else discussed above, you should speak with an experienced real estate attorney before you enter into any transaction. Our offices are conveniently located in Las Cruces.

Ramona Martinez-Salopek