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Puerto Rico Real Estate Law

Selling Your Home in Puerto Rico

There are many reasons to sell a home or apartment in Puerto Rico. For some, a relative such as your mom or dad / a grandfather or grandmother passed away and now the property is empty, and you need to sell the property in Puerto Rico. For others, following Hurricane Maria many had to leave the island for work. Many left and have been trying to rent their homes or sell their homes in Puerto Rico for a long time. Our Real Estate Lawyers help people sell their properties on the island, by representing them in the entire process. We even have realtors in our firm that can share their knowledge on how to sell a property in Puerto Rico. For those of you who are looking to sell your home, our offices help clients handle the whole process from finding a realtor in Puerto Rico, to reviewing purchase contracts, to closing.

Puerto Rico real estate law is very different from other places in the United States. Puerto Rico does not have quit claim deeds, title agencies and title insurance are seldomly used and the don’t work the same way as in the states. The process is unlike anything you have ever experienced in the United States. This is because Puerto Rico real estate law is based in the civil tradition of Spain. It is based to a large extent on Spanish law. The requirements to sell property are different in Puerto Rico. To sell your home in Puerto Rico you will need a real estate attorney to help you draft all the documents needed to close. Then it is extremely important that your attorney continues the process to register the transaction with the Registry of Property in Puerto Rico. The Registry of Property is very different than in other places in the United States. It is very similar to an administrative court. The Registry of Property decides which transactions can go in and which are rejected. Decisions made by the Registry of Property in Puerto Rico are appealed directly to the Court of Appeals of Puerto Rico. So you can imagine how different the process is. The right Puerto Rico real estate attorney will guide you through this process and will make sure the transaction is registered and the title is properly registered on your name.

Selling a Home in Puerto Rico After Probate:

A lot of people call our offices looking to sell a house or apartment in Puerto Rico, because their mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother or sister past away in Puerto Rico and they left the property to them as an inheritance. The first step in a lot of these cases is to review whether you need to go to probate (process of going to court to recognize who is an heir and receives the property and how to distribute the estate). Unless there is a Will drafted in Puerto Rico or a foreign Will that meets the Puerto Rico Probate requirements, many times we need to file for a declaration of heirs / “Declaratoria de Herederos”, to have a court declare who the rightful heirs are in an estate.

After probate is done, the property needs to be put in the heir’s names. This is done by working with the Registry of Property on the Island. The Registry of Property is an agency that determines who can be put on the title of a property. Once all the heirs are reflected on the title, then by unanimity, they can decide to sell the property. If all the heirs are not in agreement, an heir or interested party, can request a court to divide the estate or inheritance.

At which point, you can go through the normal process of selecting a realtor, establishing valuation, listing the property, reviewing purchase and sell agreements, negotiate terms and contingencies, etc.

Buying a Home or an Apartment in Puerto Rico

For people that are looking to take advantage of a favorable buyers’ market, Puerto Rico offers many great opportunity and exceptional bargains. As media outlets have reported, Puerto Rico is a white hot buyers’ market.

There are many amazing properties for sale on the island, wonderful beach homes, contemporary apartments, spacious family homes and business and investment properties. Many homes are being sold as “Short Sale” or priced under the original purchase price. The different rules that control real estate on the island can make buying a home in Puerto Rico somewhat difficult. Having the right Real Estate lawyer in Puerto Rico will help you maneuver the regulations and requirements with greater ease and will allow you to move into your island home faster. In many cases, for people that have estate planning in their home states and now want to buy a property in Puerto Rico, special considerations must be taken to insure that your will and/or estate plan is effective on the island. It is important to note that in Puerto Rico, there is a forced heir provision that states that children must received under the will; this can go against many estate plans in the United States, where people want the spouse to receive the property automatically upon death, or that a trust receive the property. Our Puerto Rico estate planning lawyers will also help in reviewing and planning for proper succession on the island.

Negotiating a Short Sale

Since the economic downturn on the island and the mass exodus from Puerto Rico to places like New York, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts, people have been struggling to pay for their Puerto Rico homes or condo apartments. Many are carrying their Puerto Rico properties longer than what they expected without being able to sell them at the price that they bought them. Many Puerto Rico homes are under water, meaning that their present value is less than the purchase value. One of the ways that people are trying to deal with these tough times is to sell their Puerto Rico properties at lower than purchase price, or as a “Puerto Rico Short Sale.” To do this you can’t simply list the price for less. You have to go through a bank procedure to get their approval. Many times you have to go through a long process of negotiation to be approved for this. All banks have different rules and procedures. Our Puerto Rico real estate lawyers can help you maneuver this process so you can sell your property and ease your financial burden. Call our Puerto Rico lawyers now at (800) 541-4542 to find out more information.

Puerto Rico Mortgage Foreclosure

For other people, waiting out the bad economy or the tough real estate market is not an option. Many have come to the decision that they can no longer maintain their home or others have been sued by Puerto Rico banks to foreclose on their properties. This process is long and complicated. Many people also don’t understand that once the bank forecloses on a property in Puerto Rico, the house or apartment will be put up for auction. At that auction many individuals or entities can bid on it but frequently it is the bank holding the note that bids on the property and gets it at a steep discount. This means that the home sold for less than what the note or the mortgage contract stated. The result is a deficiency or that the auction for the property did not raise the necessary funds to cover what the mortgage note secured. This means that you now owe the bank the difference between what the house sold for at auction and what originally was the price under the purchase contract. There is a lot of confusion with this, people think that the bank took the home and that was the end of it. The reality is that the bank took the house and now you owe the difference. They can sue you for payment and they can collect anywhere you live. The judgement that results can be registered in any state in the United States. The bank can garnish your wages, seize property and pursue payment anyway they can.

In order to avoid this harsh reality, it is extremely important to fight in court to protect your rights. Our Puerto Rico Foreclosure attorneys can help you throughout this process and help you protect your future. Call us now at (800) 541-4542 for more information.

Insurance Claims After Hurricane Maria’s Damage

After Hurricane Maria people in Puerto Rico have been forced to relocate out of their homes and move to places like Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Chicago, New York and Massachusetts. Many have been forced to leave their homes behind permanently. That brings up serious complications like dealing with insurance companies to replace or repair damaged homes, negotiating with banks to avoid foreclosures or approvals for short sales in Puerto Rico, and finally dealing with the complicated process of selling a home or apartment in Puerto Rico.

After Hurricane Maria devastation, many are left with how to move on after the catastrophic event. Now months after the hurricane many insurance companies are beginning to respond to the claims. There are some that are giving full value under the policies but many are denying the claims outright or awarding much less than what is needed to replace or rebuild damaged homes. You may want to get some legal advice if you are one of the many people that have received letters from insurance companies telling you that you are not eligible for full relief under the insurance coverage or if what you receive from the insurance companies seems unfair and unjust because they are disbursing a lot less than what they should. Don’t just accept what they are offering you. Prepare a case and submit for reconsideration. Gather all the evidence and fight it. At our firm, our Puerto Rico Lawyers can help you fight a claim from the insurance companies. We can help build a case to the insurance companies to try to get the maximum amount in your case. We will evaluate cases on a case-by-case basis; we will review the policy and the documentation from the insurance companies. Depending on the case, mere negotiations with the insurance companies might not be enough. We may have to pursue legal recourse against them for breach of contract. In those circumstances our Puerto Rico lawyers can and will file lawsuits to protect our clients from unscrupulous tactics practiced by some of insurance companies. For more information, please contact our office for a case review to see if we can help. Our Puerto Rico lawyers are one phone call away.

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