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Getting a Good Look of Real Estate Law: An Interview with DeAnn McCoy of Somerset County Bar Association

By DeAnn McCoy

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

The Somerset County Bar Association was founded in 1889 and its active membership is comprised of attorneys who are in good standing with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and who have a primary residence, primary office or primary place of employment in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, as well as judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. For more information about the Somerset County Bar Association you can visit our website at

I serve on the Executive Committee of the Somerset County Bar Association. I am also the Chair of the Law Day Committee where I organize presentations in Somerset County schools with local attorneys on a topic related to the law or a civic related topic. I am also a member of the Young Lawyer Division of the Somerset County Bar Association.

Can you briefly define the concept of real estate law?

Real estate law describes laws that address property matters, landlord tenant matters, coal and other mineral rights, mortgages and other secured liens against property.

Real estate laws cover rights to possess, use, and enjoy land and the permanent manmade additions attached to it. This includes the capacity to hold interest in real property, relations between owners, relations between owners and the community, landlord and tenant relations, the transfer of interest in real property, and real property financing, including deeds and mortgages. Real estate transactions, such as purchases, sales, and leases, are governed by a wide body of federal and state laws, and the requirements established by state law differ from state to state.

What sorts of transactions do real estate lawyers oversee? (i.e. bankruptcy, landlord/tenant, mortgages?)

A real estate attorney could represent a party in an Action in Partition, where two or more people own property together and one or more of the property owners no longer want to jointly own the property. Real estate attorneys are used to buy/sell property, the attorney may perform a title search, prepare the mortgage, note, deed and other documents for the transfer of the property or mineral interest. A mineral interest is the property owner's interest in the coal, gas or other mineral beneath the surface. These are typical transactions for a real estate attorney.

What does a basic real estate contract cover?

A standard Agreement of Sale covers the property being sold, the identity of the buyer and the seller, the terms of the agreement including price, deposit hand money, identify the conditions of sale, address terms in case of default, disclosure known defects on the property, disclose mortgages on the property and other disclosures.

Are there different types of real estate lawyers? (i.e. residential or commercial)

Yes, there are a wide variety of matters a real estate attorney may handle, not all attorneys or all real estate attorneys handle all real estate matters. This area of the law is becoming more specialized, like many areas in the practice of law. A real estate attorney may provide legal representation in transactional and litigation matters, real property acquisition, financing and development, tax, environmental, partnership and limited liability issues, a basic real estate closing to a complex real estate leasehold involving many corporate entities.

Lawyers also handle matters involving leases, property tax assessment appeals, tax sales, and oil, gas and mineral leases. Real estate attorneys may represent lenders and developers, or individuals purchasing, selling, or financing homes or investment properties.

Does real estate law vary from state to state?

Yes, each state has their own set of laws regarding real property.

What is the best way for people to reach you and or your company?

Somerset County Bar Association can be accessed through the website To contact me call (814) 443-1624, visit our web page at, or email at

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About The Author

DeAnn McCoy serves on the Executive Committee of the Somerset County Bar Association...

Phone: 814-443-1624

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