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Environmental Site Assessments

Ocala Lawyers for Real Estate Closings

Seasoned legal counsel can protect your interests when you enter into a real estate transaction. Some real estate closings are riddled with issues, and it’s important to understand what your rights are, and whether the transaction carries any risk. Real estate closings involve significant documentation. The closing documents may include a warranty deed, mortgage, promissory note, survey, appraisal, title insurance policy, and closing statement or HUD-1. Closing documents may also include an environmental site assessment. If you have questions about any aspect of this closing process, you can consult the experienced Ocala real estate attorneys of the Dean Law Firm.

Environmental Due Diligence

Real estate transactions may require environmental due diligence before closing. Known, contingent, and potential environmental liabilities associated with a piece of real property may need to be set forth in an environmental site assessment. If you’re planning to develop real property as a buyer, the environmental site assessment may also provide you with a chance to look at whether the property at issue is subject to certain site-specific features or endangered species restrictions, or whether there are any complicating factors in the case of demolition, such as asbestos. Sometimes the property’s current and historic uses will also factor into the assessment.

The buyer and seller may sign a purchase and sale agreement before environmental due diligence is performed. The contract may specify that the buyer will purchase the property as is. However, the contract may give the buyer a chance to terminate if an environmental site assessment doesn’t meet the requirements or expectations of the buyer; this would allow the buyer to recover his earnest money deposit. A contingency may also give a buyer the choice to ask the seller to remedy any problems that are found in this process.

Environmental due diligence is important for sellers to be mindful of for many reasons. For example, it may be necessary to evaluate potential bids or make knowledgeable decisions about indemnity. In other cases, it’s necessary to perform due diligence in connection with securing insurance.

Lenders and underwriters may also be interested in an environmental site assessment. The lender may need to figure out whether there are contingent environmental liabilities that impact the borrower’s ability to repay the loan or damage his credit. Like a buyer, a lender will want to know about things like environmental contamination, since this could take priority over the lender’s lien, create potential liability, or impact a future decision to foreclose. A knowledgeable real estate lawyer can help you navigate any inquiries a lender may make regarding these aspects of your transaction.

Environmental Site Assessments

In a first phase environmental site assessment, an environmental professional or engineer visits the physical site and walks through looking for evidence of contaminants. The professional will also review any public information that is available about the site’s environmental conditions. This can include a review of prior site plans and information about historic uses of the site. This phase will include consideration of whether there is a potential for contamination, or the presence of hazardous substances that are currently or can potentially be released into the environment. It also identifies historical recognized environmental conditions and controlled recognized environmental conditions.

The assessment should reveal the present of any contamination, or any other issue that may impact the property and require clean-up, which can be expensive. The assessment may examine not only existing soil or groundwater contamination, but also the potential for outside contamination to migrate to the property, the chances for hazardous soil vapors to invade buildings on the property, compliance with environmental requirements, and the presence of dangerous building materials.

Second Phase of an Environmental Site Assessment

There isn’t always a second phase of an environmental site assessment, but if it does occur, professionals will take a deeper look at the property. The second phase may involve sampling of soil or groundwater or air to determine the extent of any contamination.

Consult a Seasoned Real Estate Attorney in Ocala

If you are concerned about an environmental site assessment in connection with a real estate closing in Ocala, you can talk to a skilled real estate lawyer about your situation. At the Dean Law Firm, Michael E. Dean and Timothy S. Dean possess decades of experience representing clients in real estate closings and other matters. Call us at (352) 387-8700 to set up a free consultation or contact us online.