DIY is fine for home repair, not home buying.

Vintage image of a couple signing a contract

We work with people who want to buy, sell or lease a home by preparing, modifying and/or negotiating the Contract to protect them as much as possible.  What is unique about our practice is that people think that the terms of a Contract are etched in stone, but we show them that there is no such thing as a “standard” Contract by modifying it to fit their specific needs.  We try to minimize the stress of the deal – and often become their lawyer for life.

At JUPITER LAW CENTER, we’re certain of three things: Death, taxes and the non-existence of a standard real estate contract.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you can save money by handling your own real estate transaction. However, if you want to go down that road, you can also save money by doing your own electrical work, but you might be shocked by the results.

At JUPITER LAW CENTER, it’s much more cost efficient to hire a real estate attorney to ensure that you are protected throughout your real estate transaction than it is to hire one after you hit a snag that will require additional time to resolve.

Protect yourself and speak to us before you sign a document you don’t fully understand. At JUPITER LAW CENTER, we’re here to help get you to the Closing table with the utmost confidence and a smile on your face.

An ACCELERATION CLAUSE in your Mortgage allows the Lender to demand payment of the outstanding loan balance for various reasons (the most common of which is if the Borrower defaults on the loan or transfers title to another individual).

ADJUSTABLE-RATE MORTGAGE (“ARM”) indicates a Mortgage where the interest rate changes periodically according to corresponding fluctuations in a particular Index. All ARMs are tied to Indexes.

Equity represents the Market Value of a particular property less the amount of outstanding secured loans against it.

Homestead refers to your principal residence (i.e., the home in which you live for at least 183 days a year).  Homestead property is protected from your Creditors (except that it may be sold to satisfy a Mortgage, HOA/Condo Liens, Mechanic’s Liens or Taxes).

Listing Agreement is the Contract between the Seller and the Realtor/Broker which sets forth the details of their relationship, including the fee to be charged by the Realtor if and when he/she procures a “ready, willing and able” Buyer.

Market Value is the price a Buyer is willing to pay and the price that a Seller is willing to accept. It may differ from the Appraised Value, which is determined by other factors such as comparable properties or the highest/best use of the property.

Mortgage is a loan or lien on a property that has to be paid over a specified period of time.

A Promissory Note offers a written promise by one person (the Payee) to pay a specific sum of money to the other (the Maker).

A Contract is an agreement regarding material terms where one party makes an offer and the other party accepts it.  Sometimes, negotiations are comprised of offers and many counter-offers until a deal is reached.

Don’t sign it – because you may be stuck with an enforceable “Contract” even if you thought some of the terms were still open to negotiation or that you were going to take the Binder to your attorney for review.

SUGGESTION: DO NOT SIGN ANY DOCUMENT UNLESS YOU COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND IT and are willing to be bound by it.  Your interests would best be served by consulting someone, whether it is an attorney or some other consultant, BEFORE you sign it, not afterwards.

Each Contract should be tailored to a client’s specific needs. Because it has become common to obtain forms through the Internet, it is often difficult to know whether the form you have is the best for you, who prepared it, what important terms are omitted or whether it is enforceable according to Florida law (since it might have been prepared in another state with entirely different rules and laws).  So, be very careful if you decide to use a form and make sure it covers your particular situation.


If you don’t understand a Contract or don’t agree with one of its terms,

Yes and No.  For Real Estate deals, the Contract for Sale/ Purchase of Real Property must be in writing to be valid.  However, some non-Real Estate situations do not require a written Contract and those Verbal Contracts can be enforceable.  However, it is often difficult to enforce a Verbal Contract because both parties differ in their recollection of the terms of the deal, making it a “He Said, She Said” situation. That’s why attorneys always say “Get It In Writing!”

A Real Estate Closing is the transaction where the Seller and Buyer sign all of the Closing documents to finalize the sale/purchase of the real property and transfer the necessary certified funds to pay off any existing Mortgages and/or other debts encumbering the property so that the parties can close on the deal.

Closings are usually scheduled at the direction of the Lender, if there is one, and the parties can appear at the same time together in a Conference Room, or at separate times, or even complete their paperwork by mail.  Many people may be present at a Closing: the Seller, the Buyer, their respective Realtors and/or Attorneys, the Lender’s representative and the Title Agent.

Condominiums and Homeowners’ Association communities are governed by “documents” recorded with the County Clerk where the property is located; the documents are intended to insure the rights of “all” homeowners in such communities to use and enjoy their homes; however, the documents also contain certain rules, restrictions, prohibitions and obligations. A Board of Directors has the responsibility to insure equitable enforcement of the documents for the benefit of the entire community, and must not engage in selective enforcement.  JUPITER LAW CENTER remains apprised of both current and proposed legislation affecting community living and is able to provide guidance to Boards, so as to assist them in navigating through the many challenges and pitfalls in community association matters.

Perhaps the most popular form of Contract is the one used by the Florida Association of Realtors and the Florida Bar, known as the FARBAR Contract.  However, even the FARBAR Contract should be modified depending on whether you are the Seller or the Buyer.  Below are a few little-known provisions from the FARBAR Contract:

  • Proration’s for Taxes, Assessments, Interest, Insurance and other expenses are prorated through the day before closing. Taxes are prorated with all allowances made for maximum allowable discounts, Homestead and other exemptions.
  • The Seller warrants that certain items (such as the Foundation, Ceiling, Roof, Fascia, Soffits, Walls and Dock) do not have visible evidence of leaks or water damage and that other items (such as the Septic Tank, Pool, all Appliances, Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing Systems) are in Working Condition. Note:  This does not mean something has to be brand new – it just means it has to be operational.
  • Most damages to Windows, Screens, Flooring, Roof Tiles, Ceilings, Mirrors, Pool Decks, Driveways and Sidewalks are considered to be Cosmetic Conditions, and are not the Seller’s responsibility to repair.
  • A Seller is required to notify the Buyer of any facts of which Seller is aware which materially affect the value of the property and that are not readily observable by the Buyer or that have not been disclosed to the Buyer. This changes the old “Buyer Beware” adage and means that a Seller cannot refrain from advising the Buyer about a leaky roof or other defect simply because the Buyer did not ask about it or could not/did not see it.
  • If you are the Seller, NEVER give the Buyer possession before the Closing!
    Why Not?  Because too many things could go wrong before the Closing (the sickness or death of a party, a leaky pipe or even ordinary house noises) occurring between the time the Buyer takes possession and the Closing – thereby creating issues which are not solved easily (from a refusal to close Title to which party should pay for the repair if it is actually needed).  Don’t do it!SUGGESTION:  Move up the Closing, if necessary, so that both possession and title pass at Closing, thus creating a clear line as to responsibility.
  • If you are the Buyer, NEVER give a Deposit/Down Payment directly to the Seller!WHY NOT?  Because you, as the Buyer, don’t know if the Seller actually owns the property (the person who you think is the Seller could be a Tenant or just a neighbor coming over for a cup of tea!) and if the deal doesn’t close for any reason, you may have difficulty obtaining the return of the Deposit from the Seller.SUGGESTION:  Always Escrow!  Have any Deposit/ Down Payment held, in Escrow, by your Realtor, Title Company, Mortgage Broker or Attorney.

Law for the Layman

How Laws Affect  Your Life

Take Our Brief Service Survey

Plan for Your Family’s Future Today