Land Contract Law

2 Crocker Blvd. Suite 301 • Mount Clemens, MI  48043 • (586) 465-9529 • Fax 465-9577 • steve@sowell-law.com

A land contract is a method of selling or purchasing real property.  Boiled down to its essence, a purchaser agrees to make a series of payments to the seller until the agreed-upon purchase price has been paid.  When the price has been paid, the seller conveys title to the property to the purchaser.  Under Michigan law, an agreement for the purchase or sale of property must be in writing or it is unenforceable.

There is an old saying in the law that "the purchaser cares about a thousand things, while the seller only cares about the price."  While not literally true, it does point out the fundamental tension between sellers and purchaser:  the seller wants the highest possible price for the property with the minimum amount of entanglement. The purchaser, on the other hand, wants to know whether the seller has good title, whether there are encumbrances on the property, whether the buildings on the property are in good order, whether there are utilities available, whether there are resources (timber, oil, minerals) that can be removed, etc., in addition to the price.  It is in addressing these various issues that land contracts can become complex.

If anyone tells you that his form of land contract is the "standard form" of land contract, beware:  there are as many forms of land contracts as there are attorneys, realtors, and title companies.  Indeed, these parties may have more than one form of land contract which favors either seller or buyer depending upon whom the party represents.  Some of these "forms" are very nonstandard, indeed!  The best "form" of land contract is one that is individually tailored to your particular piece of property and your needs and desires with respect to that property.

Steve Sowell has years of experience in drafting land contracts that suit the needs of his clients in their particular situation.  If you are new to buying or selling on land contract, Steve Sowell can shepard your transaction from the moment you find your buyer or seller to the final conveyance of the property at the end of the contract.  Services include negotiating and drafting a purchase agreement; providing and assisting in preparing a seller's disclosure statement; ordering and reviewing a title commitment; drafting the land contract, the closing statement, private road notices, transfer affidavits, and the myriad other documents that may be needed for the closing; drafting deeds and deed escrow agreements; and any other services necessary to make sure your transaction complies with the law and goes smoothly.  Steve Sowell can usually quote a flat fee for his services, helping you to know, minimize, and stabilize your transaction costs.

 Alternatively, if you are relatively sophisticated in the purchase and sale of property, Steve Sowell can provide services on an "a-la-carte" basis.

Forfeiture and Foreclosure

Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that the buyer on a land contract defaults, either by not making the called-for payments or in some other way, such as by failing to pay the taxes, failng to keep insurance in effect, or failing to maintain the property.  Should this happen, Steve Sowell can pursue your remedies.

There are two remedies available to a land contract seller when his buyer defaults:  forfeiture of the land contract, and judicial foreclosure of the land contract.  There are differences in the two remedies; a comparison of the remedies can be found here.

© Steve Sowell 2017