5 Tips to Ensure a Smooth Home Purchase

Home Buying - July 20, 2020
New homeowners standing on porch with sign reading Our First Home. A small black dog lays near their feet.

Buying a home is no easy feat

An easy and painless home-buying experience is what every family hopes for, but every potential purchase brings with it complications, expected or otherwise. You’ll likely never find a home sale that goes perfectly, but you can be prepared for issues that could arise in order to avoid them and make the buying process as straightforward as possible.

Beware of easements, rights of ways, or property claims

Not every potential property will necessarily be free and clear of issues or problems. Depending upon your new home’s location and proximity to other public or private properties, it may have an easement on it. An easement, in simplest terms, is the right of another entity or organization to access part of your property for a specific purpose; often, it’s a public utility company accessing a pipe or telephone pole on the property, or a neighbor needing to pass through your property to get to a part of their own.

Property owners are required to notify prospective buyers of any easements during the sale, plus the title search should show these recorded rights. For complicated easements that often date back years, consulting with an attorney is advisable. As potential new owners, you can decide if you wish to abide by the easement or challenge in court after purchase, or simply not buy the property.

There’s also the possibility that the property you’re looking to buy has claims made against it that you’re as yet unaware of. If you buy a home only to find that there are loans made or judgments against the property, or that there is a competing ownership claim over the home, you could find yourself in a legal mess. Having a title search done by a title company and reviewed by an attorney helps to ensure your due diligence on the property, and title insurance for both lender and the owner will protect against claims that the title company may have missed.

Negotiate with current tenants

You may be inheriting tenants at your new property, and if you’re not planning to operate as a landlord, you may be wondering how to remove that tenant. New ownership doesn’t mean the terms of the tenant’s lease are now canceled; even when ownership of the property changes hands, the terms of the lease stay in effect unless there is a clause in the lease covering the sale of the home. Even if you don’t want to have tenants, you can’t unlawfully evict them, nor increase rent or otherwise change the terms of the pre-existing lease. If you’re not looking to become a landlord, you can present an offer on the home dependent upon the tenant vacating or work with the tenant directly to find an amenable agreement to break the lease. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a tenant until the lease expires.

Look out for scams

As with anything in life, beware of the offer that looks too good to be true. While there are plenty of reputable lenders out there, there are also some looking to take advantage of those who are desperate, uneducated, or unfamiliar with the home loan process. Predatory lenders may look to encourage borrowers to lie about their finances to secure a larger loan, or try to get them to buy homes that are more than they can afford. They’ll also charge higher interest rates and charge fraudulent fees for made-up services, taking advantage of the ignorance many have about the particulars of the mortgage business.

Prospective buyers can protect themselves by first educating themselves on the fundamentals of home buying, and then by shopping around for loans to see how the costs stack up. It’s also wise to do your research on the companies or realtors that you’re thinking of working with to ensure that they have a strong reputation. No professional should be unwilling or unable to provide their qualifications and recommendations, nor should they recommend you lie on any form or application.

Prepare for closing

It’s not a surprise that buying a home is an expensive proposition, but first-time buyers may be caught flat-footed by the variety of fees and costs associated with closing, and how much they can total. Closing costs can run upwards of $5,000 or more, depending upon the value of the home, and having that amount readily available to pay by wire or cashier’s check takes some doing. Unless your costs are being paid by the seller, be sure you’ve gathered enough to pay the full amount due.

The closing also includes no shortage of paperwork. Ahead of the date, you’ll want to review your closing disclosure for any discrepancies and prepare any paperwork the lender requires to be brought to the closing. If you have a lawyer, they need to be present at the closing to help walk you through the final document signing.

Ensure agreed-upon repairs are done and check for undiscovered problems

Any home old enough is going to have some issues that need to be fixed, and often the responsibility for repairs is negotiated between owner and buyer, based upon a professional home inspection that is usually paid for by the buyer. In the case that the seller is to make repairs, you or a professional will need to inspect the property to make sure that the repairs have been completed, and that no new or previously unseen problems have popped up.

Your purchase agreement with the owner should contain contingencies for any mandated repairs, so if the work isn’t done, you can back out of the purchase, or at least negotiate with the seller to get the repairs done or reduce the price. Any new problems also need to be addressed in your agreements so that it’s clear what you’re choosing to accept “as-is” when you take ownership and what should be corrected. These contingencies are an area where a legal professional can be invaluable.

Get in touch with a LegalShield lawyer today!

Buyers should exercise caution when going through the process of buying a home. Speak to a LegalShield attorney about any legal issue that may arise when purchasing a home; memberships start at $26.95 per month. If you need to back out of a real estate contract for any reason, check out this U.S. News & World Report article that features helpful advice from a LegalShield provider lawyer.

LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at legalshield.com for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.