Blog Topics

Were You Told “Lawyers Are Not Required in Pennsylvania”?

Because title insurance companies are so active in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, many consumers, especially first-time home buyers, are dissuaded from utilizing the services of a real estate lawyer prior to going under contract. And until there is a problem, everything seems wonderful, perhaps too good to be true. More importantly, buyers (the party with the most obligations during the process) are content not having to pay commissions or legal fees. When something does goes wrong and the party is forced to secure legal counsel, for fear of a significant financial loss, many of the issues inherent in the deal suddenly come to the surface. Disputes and even litigation can result, unfortunately, at that point. Thus, it is vital to contact a real estate attorney, such as Mr. Dimmerman, as early on in the process as possible. Use your judgment and do not lose sight of the stakes: buying and selling real estate is a major investment.


Philadelphia Real Estate: A Gold Rush

Philadelphia is experiencing something of a gold rush when it comes to real estate development. Wherever there is money to be made, in any industry, a variety of actors flock to the opportunity, even ones without real estate background, training and experience. They may be concentrating on “flipping,” for instance, where the objective is to buy low and sell high. What does this mean for the buyer or the quality of the construction? Naturally, each real estate matter is unique. However, I have experience with insulating the buyers from assuming unnecessary risks and helping them to make the most sound investments possible. Just because the process appears so official and standardized, this by no means that you should relax your vigilance. To the contrary, you should ask more questions, play it safer and know precisely who is selling you what.

A Well-Drafted Real Estate Contract Can be Vital

Despite the impression given during the transaction, signing off a real estate contract, even one with contingencies, should be taken very seriously. The stakes can be quite high and typically a large deposit is requested from you. This can be an emotionally charged time, especially when you find your dream home. Making major financial decisions based on emotion can lead to mistakes though, as we all know. It is imperative that you have you have a skilled real estate lawyer to review the documentation, as the attorney’s focus is on protecting your interests.

Confession of Judgment Issues in Philadelphia Real Estate Law

It is undeniable that commercial landlords have a bargaining advantage in Philly. It is not a level playing field. After all, due to zoning restrictions, property owners hold most of the cards. As a new business owner, for example, you are seeking a viable location and most importantly, a property zoned for your intended use. The landlords know this and thus will generally present you with a one-sided, draconian lease If you default, the landlord may be able to confess judgment against you, even if there is a dispute related to that alleged default. I can assist with evaluating the litigation and preparing the filings necessary to strike/open what could amount to a crippling judgment. I can also assist with negotiating the commercial lease, before inception, so that you can avoid exposing yourself to needless liability.

Buying a Rehabbed Property or New Construction?

Purchasing rehabbed real estate or new construction can be risky, especially considering that pursuing a seller is quite difficult after settlement. It is imperative that the offer to purchase real estate be structured to protect the Buyer, so that the Buyer is not compelled to consummate a transaction, where the condition is questionable. A developer or “flipper” might have the best of intentions. However, these intentions do not necessarily equate to a problem-free home. I can help you to define and understand the risks inherent, prior to contract execution, and formulate the best approach to assess condition and even walk away if you are not entirely satisfied, without having your earnest deposit compromised. I want to protect your interests.

Tax Abatements for Philadelphia Real Estate

Philadelphia tax abatements can making buying new real estate or rehabbed real estate quite attractive. However, a buyer must be sure the abatement will actually take effect and that the amounts are the amounts a buyer anticipates saving. Without a real estate lawyer, you are running the risk of not benefitting from the abatement incentive. Contact my office to safeguard against these concerns.

Agreements of Sale for Real Estate

Are you in the process of buying or selling residential or commercial real estate? You have the right to have a qualified attorney review the deal and to draft the necessary documents. Putting too much money down or not having the necessary contingencies, could lead to problems after the contract is signed. What if you cannot even the real estate as a legal triplex, for instance?

Botched Home Inspections

Did you recently purchase a home, only to discover that there are defects in your home, which the inspector failed to note in the Report? These defects might have altered your decision to buy the house or at the minimum, led to a negotiation for a reduced price or repairs by the seller? Wha do you do now? You may have the right to pursue the home inspection company for damages.

Commercial Real Estate Leases

Do you have a new business? Were you just presented with an incredibly detailed and one-sided lease? Are you the personal guarantor? Is there a confession of judgment clause? Do you feel like you lack bargaining strength because the location is good or the zoning fits with your business? Contract law can be one of those most damning areas of the law when things so wrong. Do not sign anything until a competent attorney reviews that lease. You could be setting your business up for failure before it even commences…

Confession of Judgment Litigation

Did your commercial landlord or lender confess judgment against you, where you have a perfectly valid reason for not remitting payment? Are your personal assets in jeopardy now? Mr. Dimmerman has successfully litigated confession of judgment matters, which can be extremely time-sensitive and challenging.

Deposit Disputes/Litigation and Mediation for Home Purchases

Do you regret putting down an inflated security deposit for a house? Here you thought you were making your office appear more enticing to the seller. Little did you realize that the Seller would resist your having these large sums refunded when you discovered you could not obtain the mortgage you needed? Maybe the house did not appraise for the purchase price? Maybe you gave the seller more time to fix something and a dispute ensued related to the Reply to Inspection and associated Addendum. As a former Mediator with the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors and Realtor, I understand these issues and can assist with your dilemma.

Does Your New Home Have the Advertised Square Footage?

Just because the MLS Listing advertises an approximate square footage, a buyer of real estate should still beware of advertised square footage. Even if you have an appraisal contingency, such a discrepancy might not impact the appraised value, thereby making extricating yourself from the real estate deal that much more difficult. Gross living area is critical to understand and to ensure you have protection in case these discrepancies do become apparent. If your offer is based upon price per square footage, you could be overpaying for the property. Contact my office now to adequately protect yourself. The stakes are high and just proceeding in blind faith in not advisable.

Pennsylvania Legal Malpractice

What follows is a snippet of the law courts in Pennsylvania will apply to a claim for legal malpractice: In a trespass [legal malpractice] action, the plaintiff [the aggrieved client] must establish three (3) elements in order to recover: (1) the employment of the attorney or other basis for duty; (2) the failure of the attorney to exercise ordinary skill and knowledge; and (3) that the attorney’s failure to exercise the requisite level of skill and knowledge was the proximate cause of damage to the plaintiff. Bailey v. Tucker, 533 Pa. 237, 246, 621 A.2d 108, 112 (1993). An attorney will be deemed “negligent” if he or she fails to possess and exercise that degree of knowledge, skill and care which would normally be exercised by members of the profession under the same or similar circumstances. Collas v. Garnick, 425 Pa. Super. 8, 13, 624 A.2d 117, 120, appeal denied, 535 Pa. 672, 636 A.2d 631 (1993). If you believe you have been aggrieved by the conduct of another attorney, contact Mr. Dimmerman for a free evaluation.

Personal Injury Defense

Are you a landlord without insurance being sued for an alleged injury at your property? Are you a property manager being sued for the injury of a tenant or guest? Are you a home inspector being sued for an injury, where the victim alleges your inspection was a cause in the case? Mr. Dimmerman may be able to assist.

Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) Appeals

Do you believe that the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has unfairly evicted you? Is PHA claiming that you breached the lease when the infraction was de minimis and you have otherwise been a stellar tenant in good standing? If you are of this mindset, then you very well may have the right to a trial by jury. Mr. Dimmerman wants to assist you for a reduced fee or even pro bono, on a case-by-case basis.

Landlord-Tenant Consultations

Just because you have a legitimate gripe with your landlord, that does not mean withholding rent is necessarily the best option. If you are confused about how to approach the situation and need guidance on the law and facts, reach out to Mr. Dimmerman. Winding up in court can only add insult to injury. You could even get stuck paying the landlord’s legal fees.

Philadelphia Housing Authority Appeals

Do you believe that the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has unfairly evicted you? Is PHA claiming that you breached the lease when the infraction was de minimis and you have otherwise been a stellar tenant in good standing? If you are of this mindset, then you very well may have the right to a trial by jury. Mr. Dimmerman wants to assist you for a reduced fee or even pro bono, on a case-by-case basis.

Commercial Real Estate Commission Litigation

Are you being sued for commercial agent commissions? Perhaps you bought a building and got stuck with the prior owner’s commission contract as to the rentals? The commissions can be quite significant and even continue indefinitely. Mr. Dimmerman can assist with this type of litigation.

Partition Litigation

Did you add the wrong person to a deed? Are you the only one paying the bills while the other person is living in the jointly owned real estate, rent-free? Does the person refuse to buy you out or be bought out for a reasonable price? Partition litigation may be your only option to force a sale.

Mechanics’ Liens  

Did you hire a contractor who walked off the job and then asserted a mechanics’ lien for money to which you believe the contractor is not entitled? Mr. Dimmerman may be able to help you.

New Construction/Flip/Rehab Defect Litigation 

Real estate has become something of a “gold rush” in Philadelphia. Everyone seems to be trying to cash in on this craze. Did you buy a new home with defects or did you close on a “flip” with serious quality issues? Mr. Dimmerman may be able to assist.

Seller Disclosure Fraud Litigation in Pennsylvania

Did the seller conceal defects from you? Would you have negotiated a lower price or not even purchased the home in the first place, had you known the truth about the condition? Contact Mr. Dimmerman for an evaluation.