Real Estate




Judy Coleman had 25 years of concentrated experience real estate involving the following:


A man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.
— James Madison

Real Estate investments are considered very important to the savvy investor. The general rule is to have 1/3 of your invested portfolio in some sort of real property. It is one of the most practical investments you can make because it is the only investment that you can live in if you so choose. Many times you can rent your property/properties too making real estate one of the most predictable residual incomes in the world of investments. There are also many other realty investment opportunities that the public can engage in without the hassle of actually ‘renting’ or owning property and having to have an actually property or mortgage (ex: investing in a new subdivision/or/commercial building development (such as a strip mall) along with other investors and not having to ‘manage’ the project.

In the aftermath of most stock market crashes people discovered that property investments are a more stable and predictable long term investment. Property ownership whether it is residential or commercial is normally a wise investment if purchased at the right time and with the right/appropriate type of mortgage at the right price, especially if you can avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) but purchasing can have its pitfalls and a wise investor has an attorney review the transaction BEFORE closing on the property.

The inclusion of real estate contractors, subcontractors, architects, zoning, location, builders, land, utilities, taxes, insurance, appraisals, and tenants of rentals in transaction along with legal interpretation of relevant law requires a specialized real estate attorney. When you realize that real estate investments are many time the most costly investment you’ll make, you need to be sure to hire the best legal mind you can find. Property acquisition can be complex and can be the most important and largest investment in your lifetime. One mistake which seems minor can be an actually be and extreme mistake if you don't hire the right lawyer to review your transaction and watch your back throughout the process.

Judy Coleman has vast experience in real estate law and important elements of property ownership. Before becoming a lawyer Judy was a well-known realtor closing many, many transactions to her large clientele’s satisfaction. At the UAW, Judy’s experience was broader than most private practitioners and her knowledge is unmatched. Every day Judy managed hundreds of cases for a staff of attorneys working on real estate matters from the simple closing to contested boundary disputes. She handled cases property related directly to foreclosures, deficiency actions, bankruptcy, and tax matters (federal, state, local and personal and business). Judy has also executed property closings, purchase agreements, title review, boundary disputes, unnecessary property tax increases, estate assets, probate, trusts, wills and litigation all regarding real estate and so much more.

FAQ: Real Estate Law

What is property tax?

Property owners are subject to local property taxes. These taxes are typically collected by a County Tax Assessor. The payment of property taxes is sometimes added to a home mortgage payment by the company serving the mortgage for payment to the local tax collector.

What does property tax cover?

The money paid in property taxes pays for the services provided by your local governmental agency. This includes road maintenance, public education, police and fire protection services, and the operation of local government offices. In some states or areas, you receive a basic property tax bill that covers all of these different services. In other areas, you may receive separate bills for property tax and for school tax.

How is property tax determined and when do you have to pay it?

To determine the amount owed in property taxes, the value of your land and any improvements made to that land is determined by a county assessor. Typically assessments are made when a property is first improved, such as when you build a home. If you add an addition or do other substantive improvements on the home that requires a permit, your home may be reassessed to determine if its value has increased. In addition, most local tax authorities do periodic assessments to ensure that all property valuations remain up to date so that no tax revenue is lost.

Paying property tax when and how is this determined?

Property tax must always be paid by the required deadline, even if the amount owed is in dispute. Failure to pay by the deadline will result in interest, penalties and fees. Tax authorities may also place liens on a home or foreclose on a home for non-payment of property taxes. If you believe your property taxes are too high, you are given the opportunity to appeal your tax assessment. You must usually attend a hearing and provide solid and substantial evidence in your appeal. This evidence must prove that your home is overvalued in comparison to comparable homes in your local area. Hiring an attorney to uncover similar cases that prevailed in court that parallel with your case is one way. Speak to an expert real estate attorney that can assess your unique situation and guide you. 

How do I protect myself before I purchase a home?

As a new home buyer, prepare yourself to make one of the most important decisions over the course of your life. For many people, this is their single biggest purchase and a major investment in their future. However, though buying a house can be a great way to build wealth and create a home for yourself and your family, there are serious risks in making such an important purchase. Soem things to consider when purchasing a new home:

1) Getting a home inspection.

The first and most important thing a potential buyer can do is find a certified home inspector. The inspector knows what makes a home structurally sound, as well as the relevant building codes, and can observe what you never would have noticed. It is well worth the investment to hire a home inspector before you consider finalizing your offer. In fact, any offer that you put in to buy a house should have a clause specifying that the home purchase is contingent on the house passing inspection.

2) What details of of the home purchase contract should I examine?

After the house inspection, you will want to make certain that the home sale contract is very clear on what you are getting. Will the homeowners be leaving the appliances? Fixtures included? Are the shrubs and fountain in the yard staying? Are there any items that are inside the home and on the property (outside) that will be moved and not included in the purchase? You need to know exactly what you are getting in the purchase of the home. Never assume that everything is included, and get it in writing.

3) What is the best help you can get when buying a new home?

A realtor and mortgage broker are not supposed to be biased but they do have their own interests when they have a possible 'client'. If you spend more money on your purchase, they usually make more money. An attorney is not affected by the amount of money you spend, and they can prevent you from making costly mistakes in advanced. You will need to be sure your rights are protected in every aspect of the transaction, from getting a mortgage, making an offer, to getting clean title to your home. Hiring a real estate attorney is wise to do in advance and they can advise you what to look for in a home (both negative and positive tips to remember while seeking out property to purchase). See more FAQ below.

How is property loan interest deducted on my taxes and how do I save money?

To qualify for an income tax deduction on interest paid for a loan secured by the property, the homeowner must meet the following criteria:

Qualified residence means the homeowner's principal residence and one other residence (such as a vacation home) that is not rented to others.

Acquisition indebtedness incurred in acquiring, constructing or substantially improving a qualified residence secured by the residence, is subject to a $1,100,000 aggregate loan amount limitation.

Home equity indebtedness (other than "acquisition indebtedness") secured by a qualified residence to the extent that the amount of the loan does not exceed the fair market value of the qualified residence reduced by the amount of the acquisition debt, is subject to a $100,000 aggregate loan amount limitation.

More about deductible property tax:

Deductible real estate taxes include any state, local, or foreign taxes on real property levied for the general public welfare. The taxes must be based on the assessed value of the real property and be charged uniformly against all property under the jurisdiction of the taxing authority. Deductible real estate taxes generally do not include taxes for local benefits, homeowners’ association charges, rent increases for higher real estate taxes, trash and garbage pickup fees, transfer taxes.