Buying a home is often times the most significant decision you will make in your lifetime. A real estate attorney will work with a home buyer to make sure problems are avoided and that they have the best possible outcome with purchasing a new home.
The typical items that are included in the standard purchase agreement are:
- Price being offered
- Amount of down payment
- A legal description of the property
- Name of the closing agent and/or escrow agent
- Time limit on the offer (typically 48 hours)
- The closing date (the date you can move in)
- Who will hold the deposit money (usually an escrow agent)
- Items within the house that should be included in the sale (ie: carpeting, lighting fixtures, appliances)
- Items not included in the sale (items the property owners want to take with them
- A statement that the seller will provide clear title to the home, through an abstract of title, certificate of title or a title insurance policy
- A provision that requires the seller to pay for any day(s) that the purchasers are not able to move in after the agreed upon date
- Language that requires the return of your deposit if the sale isn’t completed due to not obtaining financing or some other contingency of sale
- A clause that states that the purchase is contingent on an inspection and a satisfactory inspection report
- A provision that the seller is responsible for paying utility bills, property taxes, insurance and other house-related expenses through the closing date
- A walk through date prior to the closing date to make sure everything is as it should be according to the purchase agreement
- A mortgage contingency provision that states you can be released from the agreement if you are unable to obtain a loan (usually between 30 and 60 days)
- A clause that states the offer is contingent on a current house being sold
Often times, real estate agents use a standard Purchase Agreement that they believe covers all scenarios, but sometimes they include contractual and specialized language that can be hard to understand. Some common issues that our attorneys look for are what to do if there are hazardous conditions in the house or on the property, if the inspection finds termites, lead, or asbestos, and if there have been any additions or changes that have been done unlawfully.
Another reason a home buyer should be represented by an attorney is that there is naturally a conflicting interest between the parties. The real estate agent represents the seller, and wants to see the deal go through, so the attorney hired by the buyer has the interest of the buyer in mind and is able to give legal advice.