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Everybody Loves Cash… Deals*

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate



We all love cash transactions. Generally they are smooth and logistically easier than closings with lender financing. While there are a few issues that you as a Realtor do not have to address with a cash closing (i.e., lending), there are so many other issues that you need to make sure your client is aware of. Below are some points that you want to make sure you have addressed with your buyer (although the closing attorney should be addressing many of them at the closing).

Two Years in a Row!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

Best Lawyer in Savannah – 2017 Connect Savannah

I am pleased and humbled to announce I was selected as Best Lawyer in the Connect Savannah 2017 Best of Savannah issue for the second consecutive year. As a closing attorney, I have the opportunity to work with the best and brightest Realtors in the area (including Chatham, Bryan, Effingham, Liberty and Bulloch Counties). Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to work with you and your incredible clients.

Investment Property Contract Must Haves

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate, Rental Properties

What Every Selling Agent Must Put In The Contract

Many of you have handled a transaction involving an investment property. And as you know there are a number of contract issues that you must address that are not involved with the closing of a primary residence. I wanted to use this post to put all of those issues into one article. Now every deal is different, but the issues below are fairly common for any occupied investment property.

The Lease

You should include a requirement in the contract that the seller will provide a full copy of the lease within three days of the Binding Agreement Date. Why is this so important? Your client needs to make sure he or she is comfortable with the terms of the lease (i.e., rental rate, lease term, etc.). At closing the lease will be assigned from the seller to the buyer effectively making the buyer the new landlord. If the lease terms are not favorable based on your client’s investment goals you will want to make this determination during due diligence so your client can terminate the contract.

Closing Tip of The Week

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Closing Tips, Real Estate


Important Change To The 2017 Community Association Disclosure – Listing Agents Beware


Back in May 2016, I posted an article regarding disputes arising between the buyer and seller in connection with the Community Association Disclosure (“CAD”). The issue that frequently caused problems was that while the seller was filling out the CAD to the best of his or her knowledge, the seller either (1) failed to include all of the relevant fees, charges, etc. on the CAD or (2) was unaware of some of the same (i.e., transfer fee). If the seller failed to include a fee or charge on the CAD, arguably it was not clear whether the buyer or seller was responsible for paying those fees at closing. My advice to the selling agents was to attempt to contact the HOA to confirm the accuracy of the information included in the CAD during the due diligence period.

Why Do I Personally Call Every Buyer?

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate



Purchasing a home is a BIG deal! For most individuals it will be the largest purchase of their lives. As a closing attorney, I take being a part of such a significant life event very seriously. So why do I call every buyer on every closing? There are actually several reasons.

First, there is nothing more important than speaking with a buyer early in the process to introduce myself and to answer any questions he or she may have. Learning that the purchaser is a first-time homebuyer, buying a second home or moving from another state helps me understand that buyer’s particular situation on the front end of the transaction. I also provide the buyer my cell phone number so they feel comfortable calling me anytime throughout the process. By speaking with the buyer prior to the closing I truly believe that it reduces the general anxiety that a buyer normally feels attending a closing. When I walk in the closing room both the buyer and myself know that we have spoken and are genuinely excited about finally meeting in person for the first time.

Homestead Exemption and Happy New Year!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Homestead Exemption, Real Estate



Now that Ho Ho Ho is over and Happy New Year is upon us, another important “H” word must be addressed. That’s right . . . the Homestead Exemption. If you are a Georgia resident and purchased a primary residence in 2016, the following is a guide to help you determine whether you should file for the exemption this year. Please note that for those of you who live in Bryan, Effingham, Liberty or Bulloch County guidance for filing the Homestead Exemption is addressed towards the end of this post.

For Chatham County property owners, first go to the Chatham County Tax Assessor’s website. Search by address to view your property record card. Do not be alarmed if the proprty record card is not yet in your name. The 2016 Fair Market Value of your property can be found in the top right corner of the property record card. You will need to know the Fair Market Value to determine whether to file for the Homestead Exemption.

Georgia Super Lawyer Selection

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate



I was just notified by the Super Lawyers publication that I was selected to the 2017 Georgia Super Lawyers list. Only 5% of attorneys in Georgia receive this distinction. While I have received the Georgia Super Lawyer Rising Star honor for many years (awarded to attorneys under the age of 40), this is the first time I have been selected to the Super Lawyer list. I guess this really just means I’m getting old.

Realtor Tip of the Week: Is Your Seller Deceased?

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Closing Tips, Real Estate



Over the past several months, I have had a number of closings delayed because the seller or one of the sellers was deceased. You have many issues to address during your initial listing appointment, but this is a significant matter that shouldn’t be overlooked. Below are suggestions to eliminate or minimize a delay to your closing.

Prior to the first meeting with a prospective seller, research who actually owns the property. You can accomplish this by obtaining a copy of the deed through the Georgia Clerks Authority’s website (www.gsccca.org). There is a cost associated with this website, but many of the brokerages already have an account. As long as the individual(s) on the most current deed are at the listing appointment and sign the listing agreement you are good to go (assuming they remain alive through the day of closing). Do not rely on the property record card. These cards are only updated once a year and are not necessarily accurate as it relates to ownership.

Step by Step Guide to the Closing Process

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate



Below is an article that summarizes the attorney’s role in the closing process. Download a printable PDF version to share with your buyers to educate them on this aspect of the home-buying experience.

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What is a closing and what does the closing attorney do?

What an exciting time! You are thinking about purchasing a home. Moving forward, you will be working closely with your Realtor, the lender, and closing attorney. While the roles of the Realtor and lender might be obvious, you may have no idea what the closing attorney does. In a nutshell, the closing attorney is the quarterback for the entire transaction. The closing attorney works with the buyer and seller, both Realtors, and the lender. Having a great closing attorney (who has an amazing team of paralegals) is critical to ensure a seamless transaction. Below is a brief outline of the role of the closing attorney throughout the closing process (and more specifically, it is the way my firm handles each and every transaction).

You And Your Client Must Feel Like The Only One

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate



As I was trying to figure out what to post this week I ran across one of my past blog entries. After reading it again, I felt it was appropriate to update and re-post. After all, it’s exactly how I felt then and even more so now.

Every realtor must demand service, accessibility and the pursuit of perfection from his or her closing attorney. Demanding these three things is the only way to ensure that your real estate business is able to focus on what you do best – helping people find homes and getting listings sold. You are entitled to demand these three things regardless of whether you (1) send the closing attorney 50 closings a year or just one or (2) have a long-standing personal relationship with the closing attorney or just working with him or her for the first time. This is what you deserve as a real estate professional.

Realtor Tip of the Week

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Closing Tips, Real Estate

You Should Consider An Early Walk-Through Inspection


Over the past several months I have been getting calls the day of or the night before closing regarding repairs that had not yet been completed or items that had been removed from the property that were supposed to remain. Whether you are the selling or listing agent, this is the last thing that want to be dealing with at this time. This post will provide a few suggestions on how to hopefully minimize the chance of this happening on one of your closings.

Best Lawyer 2016 Connect Savannah

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate



I am pleased to announce I was selected as Best Lawyer in the Connect Savannah 2016 Best of Savannah issue. As a real estate closing attorney I get to work with the best Realtors, lenders and clients every day. I would like to recognize my firm Brannen, Searcy & Smith, LLP for its continued support and my amazing team of paralegals.

Thank you so much for this wonderful honor.

As always, if you need help with anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime at (912) 484-1996 (even nights and weekends) or email me at jgerber@brannenlaw.com.

You can find Joel on | | Linkedin

Closing Tip of The Week

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Closing Tips, Real Estate


Confirm the Accuracy of the Community Association Disclosure

With increasing frequency I have received calls from agents regarding the seller’s failure to disclose certain fees on the Community Association Disclosure (“CAD”). These calls are coming just a few days before closings as the settlement statements are distributed to the parties. Those conversations are going something like this:

The selling agent says:
“The seller stated there was no transfer or capital contribution fee.”

The listing agent says:
“The seller had no clue there was a transfer or capital contribution fee.”

You’re Withholding How Much Of My Seller’s Proceeds?

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

What Every Listing Agent MUST Know About Sellers Who Are Not U.S. Citizens Or Georgia Residents

So your seller is not a U.S. Citizen (and does not have a Green Card). . .

Under federal law (specifically, the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (“FIRPTA”)), if a foreign person sells U.S. real property, the buyer is required to withhold no less than ten percent (10%) of the sales price and remit it to the IRS. Yes, I said the sales price. If that isn’t bad enough, in some instances the ten percent (10%) can be as high as fifteen percent (15%). Like everything else in life, however, there are always few exceptions (and one fairly common one). So let’s look at this a little closer.

Two Rockstar Real Estate Paralegals Needed

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate



Brannen, Searcy & Smith, LLP is looking to hire TWO well-qualified real estate paralegals to join the FIVE AMAZING PARALEGALS currently on the team.

The applicants MUST have a MINIMUM of 1 year work experience as a real estate paralegal/closer.

Equally as important, the applicant MUST have a wonderful rapport with real estate agents and lenders.

It’s Homestead Exemption Time

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Homestead Exemption



As 2016 begins, so do questions regarding the Homestead Exemption. If you are a Georgia resident and purchased a primary residence in 2015 located in Chatham County, the following is a guide to help you determine whether you should file for the exemption this year.

For those of you who are Georgia residents, purchased a primary residence in 2015 located in Bryan, Effingham, Liberty or Bulloch County, no guidance is needed – you should file away!

For Chatham County property owners, first go to the Chatham County Tax Commissioner’s website at chathamtax.org. Follow the prompts to search for your property tax bill. Do not be alarmed if the tax bill for your property is not in your name yet. The tax assessor updates its records regarding the new owner in 2016. On the tax bill locate the Fair Market Value. You will need to know the Fair Market Value to determine whether to file for the Homestead Exemption. 

All I Can Say Is Thank You… Again!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate



I never post the same thing twice, but I can’t come up with anything better to express my thoughts as 2015 comes to an end. So here you go… Happy New Year!

I was trying to figure out what to post as 201[5] comes to a close and I am speechless. I know, I know… you are probably laughing right since I always seem to have something to say. But seriously, I am just overwhelmed with emotion as I sit here typing. I really cannot believe how fortunate I am to be part of the local real estate community. It is a powerful group of individuals who take their business very seriously. From the Realtors to the lenders (and everyone in between), thank you for allowing me to be a part of your [world].

CFPB – So How Is It Going?

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Uncategorized


TRID Tips For Realtors

So I told you the world wasn’t going to come to an end with the new CFPB changes. And while most of you haven’t even had a closing with the new rules, I just wanted to re-post my CFPB Tips for Realtors as I think they will be helpful as your first TRID closing approaches.

The 30 Day CFPB Countdown Begins: Are You Ready?

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in CFPB

30 Day CFPBCountdown Begins

So you have been hearing about the upcoming CFPB changes for a while now and starting October 3rd they will become a reality. So what does this really mean for you as a Realtor? For those of you who currently work with great closing attorneys and lenders there should not be a significant impact. Those closing attorneys and lenders should be ready for the new changes – we are! Remember, the new rules apply to loan applications taken on or after October 3rd (for most residential loan closings). Below are a few items to note in connection with the changes taking place.

Best Real Estate Closing App Ever!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Closing Tips, Real Estate

How many times has your client asked what will my closing costs be? And how many times have you had to call or email the law firm who is conducting the closing to obtain this information?

PrintWell never again! I am please to introduce my new desktop and mobile app (and yes it will change your life forever).

The app will allow you to generate instant closing cost figures, seller net sheets, title quotes and pre-HUDs. You can then email these figures directly to your client from the app by keying in his or her email address.

Oh yeah – it’s that easy!

The app (1) comes with a built-in mortgage calculator which includes closing costs for when your buyer needs to know how much he or she will have to pay for a home he or she wants to purchase and (2) features a seller’s net sheet tool for all your clients who have a listing and want to know how much they’re going to net after all is said and done.

So How Do You Register?

All you have to do, is click on this link -> BSS Closing App. Then just click on the orange button to “Create Free Account”, key in your details and you’re good to go.

Please Note: The figures generated by this app are specific to real estate closings at Brannen, Searcy & Smith, LLP.

As always, if you need help with anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime at (912) 484-1996 (even nights and weekends) or email me at jgerber@brannenlaw.com.

You can find Joel on | | Linkedin

The Funniest CFPB Seminar Ever!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in CFPB



Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 10:00 a.m. in the SAR Classroom

I will be speaking on the upcoming CFPB changes that take affect on August 1st.

To register go to savannaharearealtors.com, click on “Spring 2015″ OR call the SAR office at 354-1513. There is no cost to attend (No CE hours).

I hope to see many of you there. I promise you will laugh at least once!

As always, if you need help with anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime at (912) 484-1996 (even nights and weekends) or email me at jgerber@brannenlaw.com.

You can find Joel on | | Linkedin

CFPB: What The Heck Is This? STOP And Watch This Video!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in CFPB



If you are a Realtor you MUST watch this video. I know, I know, the real estate market is booming and you barely have time to eat or sleep. But trust me, this is important stuff and you must start preparing now.

What if I told you the HUD-1 settlement statement is being replaced by something called a Closing Disclosure? What if I told you the buyer had to receive a copy of the Closing Disclosure at least three days before closing – or you don’t close? You probably wouldn’t believe me. It’s happening, but these changes will ensure a smoother, less stressful closing for you and your client.

Savannah Area Realtors Awards Banquet

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

This past Saturday night, Brannen, Searcy & Smith, LLP was honored to be a Silver Sponsor at the Savannah Area Realtors Awards Banquet. The event was a tremendous success! I want to congratulate all of the Realtors who received their Distinguished Sales Society awards as well as the other award recipients. It was a privilege to be in attendance.

As always, if you need help with anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime at (912) 484-1996 (even nights and weekends) or email me at jgerber@brannenlaw.com.

You can find Joel on | | Linkedin

Richmond Hill . . . Here We Come!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

I am excited to announce that my firm, Brannen, Searcy & Smith, LLP, will open its Richmond Hill office on February 26, 2015. The new office, located at 405 Harris Trail Road, Unit C, will be dedicated to real estate closings in Richmond Hill and the surrounding areas.

Brannen, Searcy & Smith, LLP, a Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated firm, was organized as a partnership by Perry Brannen, Sr. in 1937. For almost 80 years, the firm has grown and prospered, achieving success and a reputation that demands respect in the legal community.

As always, if you need help with anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime at (912) 484-1996 (even nights and weekends) or email me at jgerber@brannenlaw.com.

You can find Joel on | | Linkedin

Homestead Exemption: What, Where & When?

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Homestead Exemption, Real Estate

Savannah Buy Local

As 2015 begins, so do questions regarding the Homestead Exemption. If you purchased a primary residence in 2014 located in Chatham County, the following is a guide to help you determine whether you should file for the exemption this year. For those of you who purchased a primary residence in 2014 located in Bryan, Effingham or Liberty County, no guidance is needed – you should file away!

All I Can Say Is Thank You!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

I was trying to figure out what to post as 2014 comes to a close and I am speechless. I know, I know . . . you are probably laughing right now since I always seem to have something to say. But seriously, I am just overwhelmed with emotion as I sit here typing. I really cannot believe how fortunate I am to be part of the local real estate community. It is a powerful group of individuals who take their business very seriously. From the Realtors to the lenders (and everyone in between), thank you for allowing me to be a part of your community.

Death and Divorce and Bankruptcy, Oh, My!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Closing Tips, Real Estate

Important Questions Every Listing Agent Should Ask

As you know, there are many facets to the closing process. Some you can control and some you cannot. Many of the issues you cannot control on the selling side, however, can be well managed if addressed early. By asking some basic questions up front, a listing agent is the best person to initially identify some of these issues. While a few of the questions that should be asked are personal in nature, knowing the answers will allow you to help your seller (and the closing attorney) prepare for a smooth closing.

Common Contract Pitfalls to Avoid – Part 1

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Contracts, Real Estate

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of presenting at Savannah Area REALTORS® on Common Contract Pitfalls to Avoid. Several Realtors asked me if I had any written materials regarding this presentation – which I didn’t – until now. This will be a three part series highlighting some of the topics discussed at that presentation. The following are issues that I have seen over the years that have caused problems (that could have been avoided).

Fraud Alert, Happy 4th of July & Thank You!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Closing Tips, Real Estate

I recently learned of a new scam going on and wanted to pass this on. Several clients in other parts of Georgia have fallen victim to this. First, the buyer receives an email from his/her agent or the closing attorney with the law firm’s wiring instructions. Next, someone hacks into the law firm’s or agent’s email account and sends the buyer “updated” or “corrected” wiring instructions. I’m sure you see where this is going. Please make sure that you mention to your clients that if he/she receives an email with “updated” or “corrected” wiring instructions to contact the closing attorney by phone to verify the accuracy of the wiring instructions.

On a happier note, I want to wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday weekend. Also, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has allowed me and my team to be a part of your closings this year. Wishing you a busy and prosperous 2nd half of the year!

If you have any questions regarding this post or have any other questions regarding real estate closings, trusts and estates, probate and LLC formations please call me on my cell anytime at (912) 484-1996 or email me at jgerber@brannenlaw.com (even nights and weekends).

You can find Joel on | | Linkedin

Best Lawyer (and Law Firm) in Savannah – Connect Savannah 2014 (Runner-Up)

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

Connect Savannah recently released the results for its annual Best of Savannah Readers Poll. I am humbled and excited to announce that I was voted runner-up in the category of Best Lawyer in Savannah. Also, my law firm, Brannen, Searcy & Smith, LLP, was voted the best law firm (runner-up). Both myself and the firm thank you for this honor and appreciate your continued support.

Flood Insurance Update: The Chaos Is NOT Over!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

As most of you know, the Biggert Waters Flood Reform Act of 2012 (the “Old Act”) went into effect in October 2013 and started causing all kinds of chaos with flood insurance premiums (What the HECK is Going on with Flood Insurance Premiums?). As of May 1, 2014, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 went into effect (the “New Act”). Many of you may believe that this New Act stops the chaos caused by the Old Act – IT DOES NOT! The New Act simply provides a short term (4 year) roll back of the provisions of the Old Act that pertain to primary residences. For secondary homes, rental properties and other severe loss properties, they will continue to move to full risk rating over the next 4 years and if you cannot prove that it’s your primary residence, then the gradual increase will apply.

No Charge for Title Work if Closing Terminates

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

It was recently brought to my attention that some of the other closing offices in town do not charge for a title abstract if the closing does not occur. I am pleased to announce that our new firm policy is the same and there is no risk at all that your client will be charged for a title abstract in the event the closing does not occur. Have a great rest of the week.

And as always if you need anything call me on my cell anytime at (912) 484-1996 or email me at jgerber@brannenlaw.com (even nights and weekends).

You can find Joel on | | Linkedin

Help Wanted: Looking For An AMAZING Real Estate Paralegal

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

Thanks to all of the support our office continues to receive, we are looking to expand. I am looking for a well-qualified real estate paralegal to join the two awesome paralegals I already have. The applicant must be able to handle ALL aspects of the closing process AND have a wonderful rapport with real estate agents and lenders.
  • Very competitive pay
  • Full benefits
  • An incredible team-oriented work environment
If you know of any qualified applicants please have them submit resumes to me at jgerber@brannenlaw.com.

Thank you for all of your help.

Joel Gerber

You can find Joel on | | Linkedin

Savannah Area Realtors DSS Awards Banquet

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

This past Saturday night, Brannen, Searcy & Smith, LLP was honored to be a Silver Sponsor at the Savannah Area Realtors DSS Awards Banquet. The event was a huge success! It was both well planned and well attended. I want to congratulate all of the realtors who received their Distinguished Sales Society awards as well as the other award recipients. Working closely with realtors every day, I know how much effort goes into earning such a prestigious award.

Lunch & Learn – “Common Contract Pitfalls to Avoid & What You Should Expect from Your Closing Attorney”

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

Topic: “Common Contract Pitfalls to Avoid & What You Should Expect from Your Closing Attorney”
Speaker: Joel Gerber – Brannen, Searcy & Smith, LLP
Sponsored by: Mungo Homes
Date: Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Networking & Lunch: 12:00pm
Speaker: 12:30pm
Location: Savannah Area Realtors – 7015 Hodgson Memorial Drive

In order to give our sponsor an accurate count, please RSVP for lunch no later than Monday, February 10, 2014. This is an SAR member benefit – No Charge to attend for SAR members. Due to Educational Requirements, NO CE Credit is given for Lunch & Learn sessions. To RSVP, please contact Lori at loriv@savannahboardofrealtors.com.

You can find Joel on | | Linkedin

Homestead Exemption: Remind Me What To Do Again

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Homestead Exemption

What if I bought my home in 2013 and the 2013 tax assessed value is less than what I paid?

For those of you who bought a primary residence in 2013 and paid more than the 2013 tax assessed value (assuming the building and the land have been given values) you want to file for your Homestead Exemption on or before March 31, 2014. By filing for Homestead, you (1) will receive a reduction of your home’s assessed value each year going forward and (2) you are locking in your home’s assessed value. This is a good thing because this “lock” will prevent your home’s assessed value from increasing over the years (as long as you do not apply for a building permit). Please note that the locked value (commonly known as your Stephens Day rate) does not apply to the school tax portion of your tax bill. You can file your Homestead Exemption by going to the appropriate tax assessor’s office (for the county in which your property is located). Call before you go there and confirm what items you may need to bring (i.e., a 2013 utility bill, etc.).

Thank You and Happy New Year!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

To my clients, thank you for allowing me to represent you and provide you guidance throughout the year.

To my friends who have referred me their friends and clients, thank you for trusting me.

To the realtors and lenders that have allowed me to work with their clients for years – thank you. Your support continues to serve as the foundation that allows me to grow my practice.

2013 Is Not Over And 2014 Is Right Around The Corner

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

Halloween is behind us, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I can almost hear Santa’s sleigh. While the holidays are a wonderful time of year to reflect and spend time with friends and family, do NOT let it interfere with the goals you set for yourself in the beginning of 2013 or impede your planning for an amazing 2014. No, I’m not trying out for the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, but I know how hard you’ve worked this year and want to see each of you get close, meet or hopefully exceed your professional goals for the year.

You Must Feel Like The Only One

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

Every realtor must demand service, accessibility and the pursuit of perfection from his or her closing attorney. Demanding these three things is the only way to ensure that your real estate business is able to focus on what you do best – helping people find homes and getting listings sold. You are entitled to demand these three things regardless of whether you (1) send the closing attorney 50 closings a year or just one or (2) have long-standing personal relationship with the closing attorney or just met them for the first time through a closing. This is what you deserve as a real estate professional.

Realtor Rumors: Can You Pay Less Taxes If Your Real Estate Business Is An LLC?

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Estate Planning, LLC's, Real Estate

Over the past few months several realtors have asked me: “Is it true that if I form a LLC (limited liability company) and run my real estate business through it I can pay less in taxes?” Before I answer that question I must clarify that I am NOT an accountant and this post should not be relied on as accounting advice. This post may, however, be used as “food for thought” and the basis for a discussion with your accountant. I know a number of accountants and they all have different approaches and opinions when it comes to various tax saving “strategies”. The structure below may not work for each realtor (based on your specific situation) and/or your accountant’s position on the issue.

While Your Closing Attorney Must Be Great – The Closing Paralegal MUST Be AMAZING!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Real Estate

So we all know the saying that behind ever great man is an even better woman. While that is true in my household (no, I’m not calling myself great, it’s just an expression), it also holds true (times two) in my office. Yes, the closing attorney often times is what first attracts a realtor or a buyer to a particular closing office; and yes, the attorney reviews the title and deals with issues on problem files; and yes, the attorney conducts the closing, BUT there is so much more involved on a typical closing and that is where the closing paralegal MUST be AMAZING.

Closing Tip: You Want A Smooth Closing? You Better Select A GREAT Lender!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Closing Tips, Real Estate

It goes without saying that you MUST select a great closing attorney (and staff) and real estate professional when putting together your TEAM to purchase a home. Do NOT, however, take your selection (or for realtors your lender recommendations) lightly.  The fact is a great lender can make all the difference when it comes to finalizing your TEAM.

What many people do not realize is that the lender is more than the loan officer (also known as the loan originator or the person you know at the bank that is sooooo nice). While the loan officer generally is the face of the lender in many instances and plays a critical role, there are two other components to a lender that cannot be ignored – the underwriting and closing department. Below I will briefly address the role of each of the three members of the lending team that you MUST research before selecting a lender.

Closing Tip: What the HECK is Going on with Flood Insurance Premiums?

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Closing Tips, Real Estate

One of the biggest topics surrounding real estate right now is: What the heck is going on with flood insurance premiums? Well, in 2012 the Biggert Waters Flood Reform Act (the “Act”) was passed by Congress. In part it was designed to extend the flood program five years. Why? To help eliminate closings that were being delayed because flood insurance was not available.

What also was included was a plan to bring the National Flood Insurance Program out of the doldrums and make it self-sufficient. While all that sounds great, what was never reviewed was the potential financial impact on some homeowners.

Investment Properties – Do You Really Need an LLC?

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in LLC's, Real Estate, Rental Properties

One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a real estate and estate planning attorney is: Should I transfer my investment rental property into a limited liability company (LLC)? The answer is very simple. YES! Why you ask? If you own a rental property in your individual name and someone is seriously injured on the property, many of your personal assets are exposed. In other words, a lot of what you have worked for your entire life could be taken away in an instant if you are sued in your individual name and found liable. By having the rental property in an LLC, your personal assets are protected.

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    Savannah, GA 31401

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