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Real Estate Law


Real Estate Law

Real estate has traditionally been a source of significant wealth in our society, going back to the feudal system in the Middle Ages to our current time. Not only is there a changing body of law that is unique to real estate transactions (such as selling, buying, leasing and financing) the money to be made or lost in real estate is often subject to how you structure the transaction. This includes how you allocate legal, environmental and financial risks. Knowing how to do this requires more than a mere knowledge of the law but also a skill in forming transactions and making good decisions, which is gained through many years of experience. Whether it's a "for sale by owner" residential transaction, the lease of a building or the acquisition, development and construction of a large residential or commercial project, the Kisner Law Firm has the skill and experience necessary to represent and advise you.
We represent, assist and advise sellers and buyers of residential and commercial properties, whether or not a real estate sales agent or broker represents the seller and/or the buyer. However, in some cases it may not be feasible or economical to have an agent/broker involved, such as when the property is being sold to a relative or friend of the seller, or when market conditions allow houses to be sold quickly with only a little advertising and no agent/broker involvement or if only the buyer is represented by his agent/broker.
Mr. Kisner has been involved in real estate law for most of his legal career, including ten years as in-house legal counsel for Ponderosa Homes. For fifteen years, Mr. Kisner represented several California divisions of one of the nation's largest home builders. Here are some examples of some of the typical services that he can provide to different types of clients:
  • Builder-Developer Representation
  • Commercial and Residential
  • Land Acquisition or Sale
  • Development and Cost Sharing Agreements
  • Construction and Subcontractor Agreements
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Commercial-Industrial Leases
  • Lease Negotiation, Preparation and Review
  • Landlord and Tenant Representation
  • Lenders and Borrowers
  • Prepare and Review Loan Documents
  • Deeds of Trust and Promissory Notes
  • Foreclosures
  • Contractors/Owners/Subcontractors/Suppliers
  • Contractor’s License Law
  • Mechanics' Liens, Stop Notices, Bond Claims for Private and Public Works

When Do You Need a Lawyer?

If you are the seller:
If you are the seller and have agreed to the essential terms of your sale with a potential buyer and you do not have an agent/broker, who will prepare the purchase agreement and be sure that you give the disclosures that are required by California law? You can try to do it yourself with forms downloaded from the internet or purchased from a drug store, but how do you know what is required?
That is where you need a real estate attorney to give you the peace of mind that the purchase agreement will meet the legal requirements and protect your rights, and the assistance of getting through the complicated maze of all the separate disclosures that are mandatory in California. The last thing any seller wants is to find out later that he tied up his property because of some provisions in the agreement when a buyer is stalling or wants to renegotiate the deal, or that the sale closed but the buyer now wants to sue you over something that was not disclosed as required by the law.
If you are the buyer:
If you are the buyer without an agent/broker, who will advise you on what all that legal mumbo-jumbo in the purchase agreement means? Such as, what is an escrow? What happens if I can't get the loan? If the inspection of the house shows defects or things that need repairs, can I cancel and get my deposit back? What is the difference between mediation and arbitration? Should I agree to what is in the addendum to the purchase agreement?
We can review the contract and advise you on what your rights and obligations are before you sign it while you still have the ability to negotiate the terms. While most printed parts of the purchase agreement are "standard," how the blanks are filled in by the seller may make a major difference on how the transaction will proceed and who bears the costs of such things as payment for inspections, cost of repair of termite damage, and how the closing costs will be shared. You may be surprised that you agreed to pay certain costs when you see the escrow closing statement when the closing is about to occur but it is then too late to negotiate what you already agreed to in writing in the contract.

How We Can Represent You

We can review the contract and advise you on what your rights and obligations are before you sign it, while you still have the ability to negotiate the terms. While most printed parts of the purchase agreement are "standard," how the blanks are filled in by the seller may make a major difference on how the transaction will proceed and who bears the costs of such things as payment for inspections, cost of repair of termite damage, and how the closing costs will be shared. You may be surprised that you agreed to pay certain costs when you see the escrow closing statement when the closing is about to occur and it is too late to negotiate what you already agreed to in writing in the contract.
In the usual case where agents/brokers are involved on both sides, the buyer's agent prepares the purchase agreement as the "offer" that is signed by the buyer and is "presented" to the seller by the buyer's agent through the seller's agent. The seller's agent then prepares a "counter offer" if the seller does not want to agree to the buyer's offer, and presents the counter offer that is signed by the seller to the buyer's agent, who presents it to the buyer. The buyer then may want to make a "counter-counter offer" if the seller's counter offer is not acceptable, and so on.
In a for-sale-by-owner transaction (what agent/brokers call a "FSBO," -- pronounced as "Fizz – Bow"), the seller and buyer usually meet face-to-face and agree upon the main terms of the purchase, such as the purchase price, the closing date, what is included or not included in the sale and when the keys will be given to the buyer. Then, usually, the seller would have the purchase agreement prepared with those terms and have another meeting with the buyer so that both the seller and buyer can sign the contract. The seller then opens an escrow with a title company and deposits the buyer's good faith or "earnest money" deposit check that is made payable to such title company.
We can advise the seller on the legal aspects of the selling and escrow processes before a purchase agreement is signed so that the seller will know what is important before the seller sits down with a potential buyer to negotiate the sale. Once a verbal agreement is reached between the seller and the buyer, we prepare the purchase agreement according to the seller's instructions, using California Association of Realtors® forms that are usually used by agents/brokers and may be familiar to the parties. We also prepare the disclosure forms that are required by California law, based on the information that the seller provides us.
Sometimes the seller feels confident enough to take these documents to the buyer for his or her signature. Other times the seller wants the buyer to meet us at our office for the signing by both the seller and the buyer.
Please call our office at 510-791-5790
If you need to talk to an experienced attorney
If you are selling or buying a For Sale By Owner property.
Our offices are located next to the NewPark Mall at 3900 NewPark Mall Road, Third Floor, Newark, CA 94560
We provide legal services to those selling or buying real estate in Fremont, Newark, Union City, San Francisco, Bay Area, Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Hayward California
Call us if you are buying or selling real estate and need more than a broker can provide.
We can prepare the agreements and disclosures for you, open your escrow and advise you on the legal issues.
Don't take a chance and get sued because you did not know the law.
Most of our services are at a flat fee that we specify before you hire us.

40 Tips to Help Sell Your Home

People usually decide within two minutes whether they like your home. The first impression is often the lasting impression. And they start forming their opinion before they even walk in the front door.
So, it's smart to ask yourself if your home is as presentable as it can be for a faster sale at the best price. The best way to find out is to imagine you're a prospective buyer. You've probably been looking at other homes; so approach your present home the way you look at other houses.
Realtor's will do their part by bringing prospective buyers to look at your house, but when it comes right down to it, your house is going to have to sell itself.
Here are 40 time-tested tips we suggest to make your home more presentable. A good rule to follow is to do the cosmetic things which will improve your chances of selling, but avoid making major changes unless they will increase the value of your home more than the cost of the improvement. Clean up. Fix Up. Paint up
Outside
  • Invest in landscaping where it can be seen at first sight. A well-manicured lawn, neatly clipped shrubbery, cleanly swept walks create a good first impression.
  • Cut back overgrown shrubbery that looks scraggly or keeps light out of the house.
  • Paint your house if necessary. This can probably do more for sales appeal than any other factor. If you decide against painting, at least consider touching up front shutters and window frames.
  • Inspect the roof and gutters. Any missing shingles to replace? Gutters and down spouts in place? Need paint or repair?
  • Consider putting flowers outside the front door.
  • Repaint or revarnish the front door if needed
  • The kitchen is the most important room in the house. Make it bright and attractive. If dull, paint cabinets and put up perky new curtains.
  • Clean the ventilating hood in the kitchen.
  • If the kitchen floor is badly worn, put down new flooring. Replace any loose tiles.
  • Remove any appliances that you keep on your counters. Clean counters make the room look larger.
Bathroom
  • Repair dripping faucets.
  • Use special cleaning products to remove stains from toilets, bathtubs, sinks and showers.
  • If sink and bathtub drain too slowly, unclog them.
Living Areas
  • Have all plaster in top shape. Cracks (or nail pops, visible seams in dry walls) are easy to fix.
  • Check ceilings for leak stains. Fix the cause of the damage, repair the ceiling and paint.
  • In painting and redecorating, avoid off-beat colors; stick to conventional white outside and easy to work with pastels inside.
  • If you have a fireplace, clean it out and lay some logs in it to make it look inviting.
  • Wash windows.
  • Replace broken glass.
  • Mend torn screens.
  • Check to see that all windows will open and close.
  • Replace burned-out light bulbs. Use brighter light bulbs.
  • Make sure every light switch works.
  • Make the floors shine; clean and polish them. Nail down any cracking boards or stair treads.
  • Straighten up closets; get rid of excess items. Use air freshener to eliminate musty odors. Lubricate any sticky or squeaking doors.
  • For sliding door that sticks in their tracks, rub the tracks with paraffin or candle wax.
Basement, Attic, Garage
  • Clean out attic, basement and garage and dispose of everything you are not going to move and package everything you won't need until you’re settled in your new home.
When Your Showing Your Home
  • Keep room draperies and shades open to let in light. This also makes the rooms appear larger.
  • Have your home well-lighted during showing.
  • At night, turn on porch light and outdoor lighting in back if you have it.
  • Neatness makes a room look bigger. Avoid clutter.
  • If possible, leave your furniture and rugs in the house for showing it.
  • Avoid having dirty dishes in the sink or on counters.
  • Keep any toys in the children's rooms. Bikes, wagons and skateboards should be made an inconspicuous as possible.
  • Keep radio, stereo and TV off or turned way down.
  • If possible, have the family take a day trip (without you)
  • Don't mention furniture or furnishings you wish to dispose of unless asked. Such discussions can kill the sale!
  • Take pets outdoors when you are showing your home.
  • Don't tag along when a realtor is showing your home; only answer questions asked of you. Don't volunteer additional information.
  • Contact the Kisner Law Firm before you enter into any contracts.