Maine Residential Real Estate
At Ballou & Bedell we understand that the purchase of a home or second home may be the largest and most important investment you can make. We are dedicated to ensuring that your transaction goes smoothly and that your rights are protected. Click on any of the following subjects for more information or contact us:
Purchase and Sale Agreement
Under Maine law, in order for a real estate contract to be enforceable it should be in writing. This contract is commonly known as the Purchase and Sale Agreement and sets out the specific terms of the sale of the property such as the names of the buyers and sellers, the sales price, the location of the property, and the closing date. A Purchase and Sale Agreement is a vital part of every real estate transaction and should be used, regardless of whether a broker is involved.
The title search is the process determining whether the property you are buying is actually owned by the seller, whether there are any mortgages or other liens against the property or whether there are any restrictions on the property that may affect your use and enjoyment of the property. The title search is conducted by searching records at the Registry of Deeds. The records pertaining to the property are then reviewed by our attorneys.
Because the title search is such a critical part of the real estate transaction, under Maine law, you are allowed to choose your own title attorney without additional expense to you even if your mortgage lender would prefer to use another attorney or title company to handle the closing.
Title insurance is an insured statement of the condition of your title or ownership rights to the property you are buying. Title insurance guarantees that you own the property that you purchase. It protects you from unreported title defects. As agents for the First American Title Company (link to website), we believe strongly that title insurance is the best protection against title defects and other title challenges to your real estate. We believe this because we have seen first hand how our clients have benefited from First American’s insurance protection. If insured, First American will defend your title in the courts at its own expense and will pay to correct or clear the title when possible or pay you for the loss. This is the reason banks will not lend money without title insurance – they know exactly how important it is. First American offers price incentives to buyers/owners seeking coverage concurrently with mortgage financing.
A deed is a written document that when properly prepared, signed, and recorded at the Registry of Deeds conveys title to real estate. The deed describes the seller and the buyer provides a description of the real estate, and any conditions or limitations on one’s use of the real estate.
A mortgage is a written document that creates a lien on real estate as security for the payment of a debt. It is recorded at the Registry of Deeds and is not released from your title until the mortgagor (the lender) is paid in full. Although a mortgage is traditionally given to a mortgage lender, it can also be given to a private individual who lends money. The mortgage is usually accompanied by a promissory note that sets out in detail the terms of the loan. The note will contain such terms as the interest rate, monthly payments, due dates and default provisions. Unlike the mortgage, the promissory note is not recorded at the Registry of Deeds.
A closing is a meeting of the buyers and sellers of real estate where they exchange the deed and the purchase price and where all transaction and loan documents are signed.
Settlement Statement (Closing Disclosure (CD), ATLA 8, Settlement Statement (HUD)
The Settlement Statement is a summary of the financial transaction including the purchase price with adjustments, mortgage money, taxes, closing expenses and similar items. The Settlement Statement is an important record of the real estate transaction for documenting tax basis and deductible expenses.
Easements/Rights of Way
An easement is the right of one party or organization to use the land of another for a particular purpose. Easements are granted through a document like a Deed, which is then recorded at the Registry of Deeds. In some cases, your neighbor may have a prescriptive easement arising from years of use even though you did not expressly grant him the right to use your property. If this is a concern, you should contact us to explain your rights under Maine law.
A conservation easement is a self-imposed restriction on one’s land, designed to preserve the property in its natural condition forever. For example, you may own a large pristine parcel of land that you would like to preserve. By granting a conservation easement to a qualified land trust, you can reduce your municipal tax burden and possibly your estate tax obligations.
Title Problems/Quiet Title Actions
Title problems can prevent individuals from selling or mortgaging their property. Occasionally, clients have real estate title problems that require resolution. We can help you determine the extent of your rights to your property or help you defend any attack on your boundary rights and your title to your property.
Short Sales Real Estate Transactions
If you have a mortgage and, like many in these difficult times, have had trouble making payments, or if you are a mortgage lender and have a borrower in that situation, or you are a real estate sale professional, you may have heard the buzz words “short sale” and wonder what it’s all about. A short sale occurs where a borrower is behind in making mortgage payments to the lender and the foreclosure process is avoided by selling the property to a buyer even though the purchase price is not enough to pay the mortgage in full. Sometimes it is in the mortgage lender’s best interest to settle up with the borrower-seller for less than the full amount owed on the mortgage. These transactions require careful negotiations and well-documented contracts between the parties involved. Also, careful attention to the borrower-seller’s title is critical as there may be other debts that show up as liens against the property. If other liens exist, negotiations and written agreements with those lien holder-creditors must also occur in order for good, clear title to pass to the buyers at closing.
Whether you are a borrower-seller, a buyer or a real estate sale professional working on behalf of either, or a mortgage lender in need of short-sale representation, we have the skill and experience to get the transaction completed correctly and efficiently.