Residential Real Estate

Real Estate Law
Residential Real Estate

Fort Mill, SC Real Estate Attorney

Fort Mill, South Carolina, is an increasingly popular area for those either seeking to purchase a home or wanting to sell one. However, there is more to the transaction than picking your favorite house or listing your property with a local real estate agent, and you may need an experienced and knowledgeable Fort Mill residential real estate attorney.

Fort Mill Residential Real Estate

Fort Mill Residential Real Estate Attorney

If you want to avoid possible pitfalls when selling or purchasing real estate, it is advantageous to retain the services of an experienced Fort Mill residential real estate attorney. This can dramatically increase your chances of a favorable outcome when it comes to a successful residential real estate closing or transaction.

Representing Fort Mill, SC, for Residential Real Estate Transactions

Mack & Mack Attorneys is a law firm that proudly represents Fort Mill, South Carolina, and the surrounding areas. We provide comprehensive legal services for all your real estate needs. Our law firm offers excellent representation for real estate transactions, including assistance with purchasing or selling residential properties (single-family homes, condominiums, townhomes, etc.), vacant land, and commercial real estate. We are your Fort Mill residential real estate attorneys and can provide you with skilled legal representation and advice.

Difference Between Real Estate Agents and Real Estate Attorneys

A real estate agent and a real estate lawyer are completely different professions. When you are buying or selling a house, an agent is the person who helps you through the process. They:

  • Tell you what your home is worth.
  • List the property.
  • Meet with potential purchasers.
  • Help you determine what your budget is.
  • Assist in finding a home for you.
  • Help you make an offer.

A real estate lawyer has studied and acquired great knowledge of real estate law, allowing them to provide legal help and services. A lawyer ensures that the transaction complies with relevant laws and regulations while making sure your legal interests are protected. Your lawyer can also help you review and draft legal documents, conduct title searches, address title issues, and facilitate the closing process.

Real estate agents focus on the practical aspects of buying or selling a property, and real estate attorneys provide legal advice and services. Both can be important parts of a smooth and legally sound real estate transaction.

Buying South Carolina Real Estate as an Out-of-State Buyer

South Carolina can be an attractive place to buy real estate because of its affordability, lower tax burdens, and economic growth. The state is also a popular tourist destination, and this can be appealing to those who want to invest in vacation rental properties.

Buying out-of-state property can be a rewarding investment, but it can also require careful planning and consideration that is not often needed when buying in-state property. You’ll have to conduct research on the local real estate market to understand trends, location, property values, and whether your investment could appreciate or depreciate. Additionally, there may be out-of-state financing challenges and differences in the costs and availability of insurance.

Working with a local real estate agent who is familiar with the South Carolina market can provide valuable insights and work with you through the whole transaction process, ensuring that you have access to all the information you will need. It will be important to build a network of local contacts who can help you be as successful as possible.

Buying South Carolina Real Estate From an Out-of-State Seller or Being the Seller

For the most part, buying property from an out-of-state seller is similar to the process for an in-state seller, except non-residents may be subject to withholding on their gain amounts.

A person is considered a non-resident seller if:

  • They live permanently in a home outside of the state on the date of closing.
  • They are a corporation incorporated outside of the state (with some exceptions).
  • They are in a partnership whose principal business place is located outside of the state.
  • Their trust is administered outside of the state.
  • The decedent of the estate lived permanently outside of the state at the time of their death.

The South Carolina Code of Laws states that buyers must withhold 7% of the gain for individuals and 5% for corporations if they are considered non-resident sellers. The exception to this rule is if the property or properties were held as a primary residence for at least two of the last five years and have not been used for business or as a rental. In that case, they may be exempt up to a certain dollar amount, typically $250,000 per seller.

There are other exceptions, such as gifts, inheritance, and ‘like-kind’ exchanges, that may be considered tax-free under IRS codes.

The Real Estate Tax Process for Out-of-State Buyers and Sellers

If no exceptions apply to your transaction, the seller must provide a gain amount. They will calculate the gain through their costs and net proceeds. An affidavit, called the South Carolina Tax Withholding Affidavit, will then be signed at closing that provides the gain amount.

The closing attorney will prepare a Form I-290, which needs the buyer’s signature. The office will remit the withheld tax to the South Carolina Department of Revenue on or before the 15th of the next month.

If you are buying from or are a non-resident seller, we suggest that you contact our experienced residential real estate attorneys to help determine whether any withholding requirements apply to your case. This can help you better understand potential withholdings as early as possible and limit any potential surprises.

Tax Implications and Other Costs to Know About

There can be many taxes involved in real estate transfers, and understanding what you and the other party might be paying is essential for having the smoothest possible transaction.

Real Estate Transfer Tax

South Carolina has a real estate transfer tax, which is paid any time a property changes ownership. Typically, it is customary for the seller to pay the fee, but some sellers will negotiate with the buyer to split the fee. The current South Carolina transfer tax rate is $1.85 per $500 in value. For example, if your home sells for $500,000, you will divide that by $500, which is $1,000. Then, do $1,000 x $1.85, and that equals $1,850.

Escrow, Title, and Commissions

Additional real estate transfer fees include escrow fees and title fees. Escrow fees are for handling the funds involved in the transaction, and the fee is dependent on the home sale price and similar factors. Title fees happen when a seller doesn’t own the property, and it is the seller’s responsibility.

If you hired a real estate agent, attorney, advisor, surveyor, or other professional experienced with out-of-state transactions, you would have to pay for their services.

State and Federal Capital Gains

South Carolina has a capital gains tax rate of 7% of your gain, but 44% of your capital gain will be exempt. This means you are paying 3.92% of your gain in the state. For example, if you made a $200,000 profit, your South Carolina tax on that gain will be $7,840.

You also might have to pay a federal capital gains tax, which depends on the length of time you owned the property. If you owned it for more than a year, you will pay 0%, 15%, or 20%. If you owned the property for less than a year, you could owe up to 37%.

To calculate your capital gains, you will:

  • Determine your basis, which is your original purchase price plus any improvements you made.
  • Determine your realized amount, which is the sale price minus fees.
  • Determine your gain or loss by subtracting the realized amount from your basis amount.

There are exceptions to these taxes. For example, you can use the Section 121 exclusion. This section states that if you used the property as your main residence for at least two years during the past five years, you can exclude up to $250,000 in gains if you file taxes as a single person or up to $500,000 if you are married and file jointly.

South Carolina Real Estate Disclosure Requirements

The purpose of real estate disclosure requirements is to ensure that buyers have important information about the property they are considering purchasing. This information could affect the property’s value or desirability. Sellers are required to disclose:

  • Defects and Conditions Affecting the Property: South Carolina law mandates the seller to disclose any known material defects or conditions affecting the property, such as structural components, environmental issues, utilities, and more, through the use of the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Statement.
  • Lead-Based Paint Use: If the property was built before 1978, federal law requires sellers to provide information about lead-based paint hazards. This includes a lead information pamphlet.
  • Flood Zone Property Location: Sellers must disclose if the property is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or flood zone. It could impact insurance requirements, and the property could be more susceptible to flooding.
  • Any Homeowners’ Associations: If the property is part of a homeowners’ association, sellers are required to provide association information, rules, fees, and any pending special assessments.
  • Any Methamphetamine Contamination: South Carolina law requires sellers to disclose any known methamphetamine contamination on the property. Methamphetamine production on a property can cause health and air quality issues, property damage, and increased fire risk.
  • Material Facts Not Covered by the Disclosure Form: Sellers must disclose any material facts about the property that may not be covered in the standard disclosure form. This can include any crimes or deaths that happened on the property, neighbor disputes, noise and nuisances, future developments, past insurance claims, water quality issues, and even pest and wildlife issues.

Consequences of Failing to Disclose

If a seller fails to disclose any of these aspects, there may be legal and financial consequences. The failure to disclose facts about the property may be considered a breach of the purchase agreement, and the buyer may have the grounds to pursue legal action.

Sellers can be held legally liable for any losses suffered by the buyer due to nondisclosure, such as the cost of repairs, financial losses, or the difference in property value. The buyer may even have the right to rescind the sale by voiding the contract.

If the failure to disclose was deemed intentional and constitutes fraud, the seller and even the real estate agents and any brokers involved could face a fraud claim from the buyer.

As a seller, a real estate attorney can be an important asset in helping you understand and fulfill any disclosure obligations. They can also assist you in keeping up to date with current laws and regulations. As a buyer, it can be important to seek legal advice when reviewing the disclosures, as a lawyer can help you understand their potential implications. A real estate attorney can also navigate any disputes that arise.

Contingencies in Contracts

Most real estate transactions include contingencies that allow a buyer to back out of purchasing the property if the terms in the clauses aren’t met. The most common contingencies in South Carolina real estate transactions include:

  • Home Inspection Contingency: This allows the buyer to hire a home inspector to identify any issues with the property. If significant problems are found, the buyer can negotiate repairs, request a credit, or even withdraw from the contract.
  • Financing Contingency: This gives the buyer a specified period to secure mortgage financing. If they are not able to do so, they can exit the contract without penalties.
  • Title Contingency: This permits the buyer to review the title commitment and address any issues, such as liens, encumbrances, or disputes, that need resolution before closing.
  • Appraisal Contingency: This allows the buyer to back out of the contract if the property appraises for less than the agreed-upon purchase price.
  • Insurance Contingency: This enables the buyer to see if insurance cannot be obtained or if the rates will be too high. If so, they could terminate the contract.
  • Sale of Existing Property Contingency: If the buyer needs to sell their current property to finance the new property, this contingency gives them time to do so. If the sale does not go through within the specified timeframe, the buyer may be able to end the contract.
  • Homeowners’ Association Contingency: This allows the buyer to review HOA documents and regulations. If the buyer decides that they don’t like the terms or discovers issues within the HOA, they can terminate the contract.
  • Due Diligence Contingency: This is a broader contingency that allows the buyer to conduct various due diligence activities, such as reviewing property records, zoning determinations, or any other relevant information. If they decide that they do not like what they find, they can terminate the contract.

Real estate attorneys can be important to have by your side during negotiations, as they can help you better understand the terms of potential contingencies. They can be there to ensure that your interests are protected and that the purchase agreement fits your needs.

When to Hire a Fort Mill Residential Real Estate Attorney

There are many reasons you may wish to hire an attorney when purchasing or selling real estate. For example, you may be unsure of the intricacies of residential real estate transactions. You may be concerned about protecting your interests and may not have much experience in the process. If so, you would benefit from an experienced Fort Mill real estate attorney to review documentation or negotiate on your behalf. Additionally, you may be concerned about the closing costs or fees associated with a residential real estate purchase or sale. If any of these apply to you, hiring a Fort Mill real estate attorney can be beneficial. You should look for an attorney who:

  • Has experience with residential real estate transactions in Fort Mill. You will want to consult an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable about the local real estate climate.
  • Has experience with out-of-state sellers and buyers.
  • Understands your needs. You will want a Fort Mill real estate attorney who understands and will provide you with all the information and advice you need. Your attorney should not try to push you in any direction but instead help you make an informed decision.
  • Protects your interests. You will want a Fort Mill real estate attorney who represents your best interests and negotiates on your behalf for the best possible deal.
  • Can demonstrate a commitment to your satisfaction. You will want an attorney who is persistent in achieving a positive outcome for your real estate transaction and has a track record of success.
  • It is beneficial for you to hire a Fort Mill residential real estate attorney to represent you when you are purchasing or selling residential real estate to avoid potential pitfalls and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

Questions to Ask Your Prospective Residential Real Estate Attorney

If you are looking to purchase a home in the Fort Mill area, consider asking:

  • What has your experience been with residential real estate transactions in Fort Mill?
  • Do you have experience with out-of-state real estate buyers?
  • How do you represent my best interests as I make this purchase?
  • How do you propose to protect my interests during this process?
  • What can you do for me that another Fort Mill residential real estate lawyer couldn’t do?

If you are looking to sell your home, ask:

  • Has your law firm represented other homeowners as they sold their homes in Fort Mill?
  • What is your experience with short sales or foreclosures?
  • Do you have experience with out-of-state sellers?
  • How do you protect my interests as I sell my home?
  • What services do you offer to help me sell my home?
  • Why should I hire you?

Your Fort Mill residential real estate attorney should be able to answer all your real estate questions to reassure you that they can provide you with competent legal representation to be successful in the Fort Mill real estate market.

The Risks of Not Having Fort Mill Residential Real Estate Legal Support

Hiring a Fort Mill residential real estate lawyer can help you avoid common pitfalls in the residential real estate market in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Without legal assistance, you risk putting yourself in a number of unfavorable positions in which you could lose money or property, including:

  • Not negotiating the most optimal deal possible and accepting subpar terms and conditions.
  • Not understanding all of the fees associated with your purchase or sale.
  • Not understanding the local real estate climate and laws as an out-of-state buyer or seller.
  • Falling victim to predatory lending practices.
  • Becoming the victim of a faulty title.
  • Failing to properly transfer property at closing.
  • Not fully understanding the terms of your contract in a Fort Mill residential real estate sale.
  • Making an uninformed decision when selling or buying a home in Fort Mill.
  • Involving yourself with a real estate transaction that is fraudulent or illegal.
  • Being taken advantage of by an inexperienced solicitor.
  • Finding yourself in a desperate financial situation, such as falling behind on your mortgage payments and risking loss of your home.

Without an experienced Fort Mill real estate lawyer, it is possible to put yourself in a position that can be unfavorable and even detrimental to your financial well-being. Therefore, consider your decision carefully when choosing your Fort Mill residential real estate attorney.

Real Estate Transaction Timeline

While every real estate transaction is going to be unique, there is a general timeline that each will follow. Everybody will begin by searching for properties and making an offer, though that time will vary.

Once an offer is accepted, a purchase agreement is drafted. The buyer will usually provide earnest money as a sign of good faith. The buyer can then hire property inspectors to provide general or even specialized inspections. If issues are identified during this, there may be negotiations between the parties about repairs.

If the buyer has a lender, they will work to secure mortgage financing, and the lender will order an appraisal to assess the property’s value.

Then, the final loan approval process will go through with the final underwriting process, which leads to the issuance of a loan commitment. The lender provides the buyer with a Closing Disclosure (CD) to outline the final loan terms. Closing documents are prepared, and the closing date is scheduled about 1-2 weeks in advance.

When closing takes place, the buyer, seller, their real estate agents, closing agents or attorneys, and sometimes lenders or mortgage representatives will meet to sign the necessary documents and/or provide the necessary funds. At that time, the ownership is officially transferred. The process from acceptance of an offer to the closing date is typically 30 to 60 days.

Real estate transactions involve a complex legal process, and having a real estate attorney can be essential to ensuring that all aspects of the transactions are handled correctly. They can also be there to protect your interests.

Benefits of Choosing Fort Mill Real Estate

With a total population of 24,000 people, Fort Mill has been considered the safest town in South Carolina due to its low overall crime rate and very minimal violent crime occurrences. However, safety is not the only factor that makes the city a desirable place to live or own real estate property.

Being located just south of Charlotte, North Carolina, provides Fort Mill residents with increased employment opportunities and entertainment options. However, you don’t need to leave Fort Mill to enjoy its outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking trails and access to the Catawba River.

Fort Mill has a strong sense of community, especially with its historic downtown charm that includes local shops, restaurants and events. The area has seen increased development and job opportunities through economic growth, adding to the overall vibrancy of the community.

An attractive part of the city for families is the Fort Mill School District, which has received positive reviews for its educational programs. Additionally, the cost of living for homebuyers and renters is seen as more affordable than neighboring areas.

Seller’s Market vs. Buyer’s Market

A “seller’s market” means that there is a higher demand for homes than there are homes available. This increases competition amongst buyers, which drives up costs, and homes will usually sell for more than the asking price. This leaves limited room for negotiation power on the buyer’s behalf and the foregoing of inspections.

A “buyer’s market” occurs when there are more homes for sale than people interested in buying. Sellers will often lower their prices to attract more buyers. Buyers will have more negotiating power, and sellers may be more open to concessions.

Real estate attorneys understand the current market conditions in the Fort Mill area. They can help buyers and sellers make informed decisions and strategize effectively in real estate transactions.

Connect With Top Real Estate Attorneys in Fort Mill, SC

At Mack & Mack Attorneys, our Fort Mill real estate team provides you with the utmost representation when buying or selling residential real estate in Fort Mill. Navigating real estate transactions can be an intimidating process, so having competent legal representation will help you achieve the most positive outcome possible . We are driven to be that voice for you and your financial interests.

Contact us today, and let’s begin the process of working toward a successful Fort Mill real estate transaction together. You won’t regret the decision to work with Mack & Mack Attorneys to ease the burden related to your real estate transactions.


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