If you are buying or selling a home you have entered into a binding contract that gives you legal rights, obligations and responsibilities. Like every buyer and seller, you will have questions about those rights and responsibilities as you move through the transaction.
Where will you turn for answers to your legal questions? Google? Your realtor, home inspector, mortgage representative, or title insurance person? While all of these sources, especially your Realtor, are essential to the buying/selling experience, they cannot give you legal advice. They are not licensed to do so, and the experienced ones know better than to take on that risk/responsibility.
The obligations in real estate transactions are serious and a misstep can be costly. Here are examples of the types of questions you may have at each stage of your transaction.
Contract review (Attorney Review):
- What are your rights if the home appraises for less than the sales price?
- Do you have to pay a realtor commission if the deal doesn't close?
- What do the financing, inspection, and prior sale contingencies mean?
- What repairs can the buyer request and what if the seller refuses?
- What inspections are customary and what inspections are the sellers responsible for?
- Who is going to review the title reports to confirm you are getting 'clear' title, free of liens, taxes and other issues that can attach to the property? Is the title agency resolving title issues or just insuring over them (leaving the problems and noting them as 'exceptions' on your policy)?
Property Survey Issues:
- Are there easements, encroachments, setback violations or other issues with the property that can impact your ownership, use and enjoyment of the home?
- Who will review the closing figures, taxes, escrows, etc., to make sure that your closing costs are correct and that you are not paying more than you are obligated to pay.
An investment in qualified, experienced legal representation will protect you throughout your transaction and save you from making costly mistakes. While the other members of your real estate team have essential roles, they cannot give you legal advice or guide you through the scores of legal issues that will come up during your transaction.
You will be taking legal advice from someone. It is up to you whether that advice will come from someone who is qualified to give it, and who can be held responsible if it is wrong.
By James M. Miner, Esq.
Attorney at Law, State of New Jersey
For more information, feel free to contact me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org, (908) 232-9962