The joy and exhilaration of taking ownership of a home you can call your own almost makes up for the stress and anxiety generally associated with the buying process.
Finding the right home at a price that fits your budget, negotiating a fair price with the seller, and avoiding the legal issues that, unless you know how to handle them, could make your dream home a costly mistake could give you second thoughts about buying.
Being prepared by knowing what to expect along with having an experienced real estate attorney guiding you through the process can take the stress and anxiety out of buying a home.
To get you ready for the process of buying a home, here are some of the key legal considerations you may face that should be discussed with an experienced real estate attorney at a law firm such as Herrig & Vogt.
Understand the role of the real estate agent
Real estate agents can be of great help to buyers including:
- Sharing information about local communities, including schools, shopping and other features.
- Provide insight into local market conditions and pricing.
- Locate homes matching the needs and financial parameters of buyers.
- Present and negotiate offers made by their buyers.
Depending upon state and local laws, real estate agents may prepare and oversee the signing of the purchase agreement when an offer to purchase has been accepted by the sellers of a home.
When working with a real estate agent, buyers must be aware of the fact that the agent they work with may actually owe a legal duty to the seller.
Unless there is a written agreement to work for the buyer, a real estate agent works under a commission agreement with the seller even when showing homes to buyers.
If you are buying a home and want to work with a real estate agent who is legally obligated to look out solely for your best interests, you can hire and pay a buyer’s agent.
Property disclosure requirements
Most states have laws requiring sellers of homes to fill out a disclosure form disclosing to a prospective buyer the condition of plumbing, heating, electrical and cooling systems of the home as well as the age and condition of its roof.
Some states allow the buyer and seller to agree to dispense with the disclosure form.
Regardless of whether or not the seller discloses information about the condition of the house you intend to buy, it is better to not rely on it and have an inspection done by a home inspection service that you hire.
Home inspectors work for you and prepare a detailed report about the condition of the home along with providing estimates of the cost of repairing issues disclosed by the inspection.
The information provided by a home inspection lets you know if a leaking water heater is a minor issue that you can take care of after the sale or is a sign that the water heater must be replaced.
Knowing this early in the process gives you the opportunity to negotiate to have the repair done by the seller before closing or take care of it with a reduction in the purchase price.
Do not sign a purchase agreement without a real estate attorney
Once you have reached an agreement with the seller on the price, closing date, and other terms of the purchase of your new home a purchase agreement or contract will be created.
Either the seller’s attorney or the seller’s real estate broker, depending upon the state law where the home is located, will prepare the agreement.
Do not sign a contract or purchase agreement until it has been reviewed by your real estate attorney.
The attorney will make certain that it accurately reflects your understanding of the transaction and contains terms to protect you.
For example, if you need financing to buy the home, your attorney will include a clause conditioning the sale on your ability to obtain a mortgage loan from a lender of your choice.
Check for any title issues prior to closing
Your real estate attorney will arrange for a search of title to the property prior to closing.
The usual procedure is for your lawyer to ask a title insurance company to conduct a search of public records to ensure that the seller holds title to the property and can transfer it to you free and clear of judgments, liens, easements, and other issues that would impair your ownership rights.
Hiring a real estate attorney to look out for your interests takes the stress and uncertainty out of the process of buying a home.
You get to enjoy the experience knowing that someone is there to anticipate potential problems and handle them to ensure that you are protected.