Pennsylvania residential real estate laws concern matters of neglected property, bankruptcy and home equity, and seller property disclosure. Whether you are looking to buy a home or are trying to protect your assets during bankruptcy, having a trusted real estate lawyer on your side can give you peace of mind that you have followed all necessary steps as well as protect you from a home purchase that you may later regret.
At Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano, our Scranton real estate lawyers have been helping clients throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania for more than 50 years. With experience in residential real estate, our attorneys will explain everything to you in detail to ensure no stone is left unturned.
Adverse Possession Law
In Pennsylvania, it is possible to gain the title of a neglected piece of property if you have continuously improved it. Someone who publicly takes possession of an otherwise neglected piece of real estate and improves it can legally acquire that property title under the adverse possession doctrine.
To acquire a title through adverse possession law, the person’s possession of the land must have been actual and physical, continuous, open and visible, and hostile, meaning that the individual did not have permission to remain on the land, all for the prescribed 21-year limitation period.
In 2019, the adverse possession law was under review. Now, landowners and municipalities may need to reevaluate the status of their ownership.
When filing for bankruptcy, homestead laws allow property owners to protect the equity in their homes by declaring a portion of their property as a “homestead.” These laws are in place to allow homeowners in the midst of bankruptcy to hold on to equity, up to a certain amount, if it’s greater than the remaining balance on the mortgage.
For property owned jointly by a married couple, the law only grants a $300 exemption. However, federal homestead laws exist which are more generous. The federal homestead exemption amount for cases filed after April 1, 2019, is $25,150 and $23,675 for cases filed between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2019. The amount is adjusted every three years with the next adjustment occurring on April 1, 2022. Federal law also requires that you have lived in the property for at least 40 months before filing for bankruptcy.
Seller’s Property Disclosure Law/ Residential Real Estate Transfers Law
When you purchase a home in Pennsylvania, you most likely will encounter a document called the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement. This is a document the home seller completes to inform the buyer of any material defects with the property that may not be readily visible. These defects can include anything that may pose a significant adverse impact on the property.
Such elements you may need to disclose include:
- Seller’s knowledge in areas related to the construction and condition of the property and any improvements
- The date the property was last occupied
- Basement and crawl spaces
- Any structural issues
- Additions and remodels
- Water, sewage, and plumbing
- Heating and air conditioning
- Soil and drainage
- Any hazardous substances
- Any homeowners associations the new owner will need to know of
- Legal issues on the property or title
This helps protect the buyer from any unknowns that may come across in or on the property.
Why Our Scranton Residential Real Estate Lawyers?
Real estate transactions are incredibly complicated. Not every lawyer has the track record and experience needed for these matters. That’s why you need Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano. With extensive knowledge of Pennsylvania’s real estate laws, our attorneys will make sure you understand the process and will negotiate a fair deal.
If you live in Northeastern Pennsylvania and are in the middle of a real estate transaction, now is the time to get a Scranton real estate lawyer on your side. Put your trust in a law firm that puts your needs first. If you live in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, Monroe, and surrounding counties, contact Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano for a free consultation today.