Buying a home may be the biggest single investment of your lifetime. Your life’s savings may be invested in this one venture. Thus, it is extremely important that you, the prospective buyer, use the greatest caution in buying a home. We, at Four Star Real Estate will provide the roadmap!
THE PURCHASE AND SALE AGREEMENT
One of the first documents given to a prospective buyer by a real estate broker is the purchase and sale agreement or contract. Few people realize that this paper is the most important step in purchasing a home — the details of this agreement determine the terms of your purchase. Before signing, read the agreement carefully. The law usually requires judges to treat you as if you read every word of a document before you signed it, so you should try to read everything carefully before you sign a document. Some of the items you should consider discussing with your Four Star Real Estate Sales Associate are such items as the following:
- Exactly what land, buildings and furnishings are included in your offer? Is the stove, refrigerator and the like included? Which items are included and excluded? Sometimes it is not always easy to know whether something is being sold with the home or not.
- What payments are due under the contract?
- When can you take possession?
- Is the seller to furnish you with a good, marketable title? If not, you may be purchasing the property even though other people may have previously asserted claims to all or some of the property or there may be claims that have been brought by those involved in construction or remodeling of a home.
- Which kind of deed should the seller give? Be sure to discuss the difference between a warranty deed and quit claim deed.
- Who pays for the title insurance for the property in the event the offer is accepted?
- Have utilities been installed and paid for?
- Should a surveyor be employed to locate the improvements on the property and confirm that there are no encroachments onto or from abutting properties? Who should pay for the cost of the survey?
- If a loan is to be obtained from an outside lender, who will pay the loan closing costs? There are usually local customs as to which costs are paid by the buyer or the seller but it is better to make this explicit in the contract.
- Can the buyer cancel the contract and obtain a refund of the deposits if the buyer is denied a loan, and if so, under what conditions?
- If termite damage is found, will the seller have to pay the cost of repairs and treatment? If so, is there a limit?
- What are the zoning regulations or other restrictions, on the use of the property?
- What is the time within which the offer to purchase should be accepted or refused? Is the date of such acceptance to be vital to the offer?
- If your offer is accepted, what steps should be taken with respect to insuring the improvements to protect you, the prospective buyer, pending the final closing?
- Who should be required to sign and accept the offer to make it binding?
- Are boundary lines properly specified?
- Are timber, mineral and water rights, if any, properly covered?
- Who is responsible for paying of property taxes?
- What are the remedies if the buyer or seller defaults?
- Should the purchase be contingent on any outside matters such as the availability of financing on acceptable terms or the sale of the house which you presently own?
- Whose responsibility is it to pay for the real estate broker?
- Whose responsibility is it to pay for governmental special assessments that arise prior to closing? Payable after closing? What about homeowner or condominium association assessments?
- How long should the buyer have to inspect the property?
- Does the seller know of any defects? Is there a disclosure form that the lawyer recommends?
Your Four Star Real Estate Sales Associate may not be able to answer some of these questions until examining many public records, including court and governmental files.
It is important that your purchase agreement be prepared or reviewed by your own Four Star Real Estate Sales Associate before you sign to assure the agreement covers your requirements. Remember that even printed form agreements are negotiable, but this requires knowledgeable and independent professional guidance that you would get from a Four Star Real Estate Sales Associate.