Ten Tips for Home Buyers and Sellers
At Mallory Law Office, LLC, we know that buying or selling a house can be a stressful time for your family. As a result, we’ve identified ten tips which in our experience make this time of transition easier for our clients.
For Buyers and Sellers
1. Consult with a real estate attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you anticipate minor issues before they become major problems and provide some peace of mind as you go through the buying and selling process.
2. Read your contract to make sure it contains all the agreed-upon terms. The written contract – often called a Real Estate Purchase Agreement – is assumed to be the full expression of the parties’ intentions. If a clause is not contained in the contract, the parties do not have to abide by it – even if there was an oral agreement about the issue.
3. Be truthful in all your communications. Not only is it the right thing to do, but failure to do so could make you liable for fraud.
4. Remember that your obligations are not over after a contract is signed. There can be weeks or months between the contract’s acceptance and closing. During this time, both buyers and sellers have responsibilities to conduct inspections, obtain financing, and comply with other contingencies.
5. Ohio sellers are required to provide buyers with a Residential Property Disclosure Form regarding material conditions or defects affecting the property. Sellers should be accurate when completing this form or otherwise communicate with a potential buyer. For a seller, the worst outcome of a failure to disclose is not a lost sale – it is litigation brought by an unhappy buyer.
6. If you have any outstanding disputes with your neighbor (such as a complaint about his frequent loud parties or bright floodlights), discuss the situation as soon as possible before the sale. A simple conversation may resolve the situation, and it will at least allow you to inform the buyer that you have tried to address the issue.
7. Consider separately negotiating the sale of personal property to the buyer. We sometimes have clients who agree to sell certain items (like a riding lawnmower or pool table) with the buyer. It is often simpler to include these items in a separate bill of sale, rather than in the underlying real estate contract.
8. Obtain a title search so that you are aware of deed restrictions, tax liens, or other conditions which could affect your use of the property.
9. Take the time to investigate other issues related to the property, in addition to a home inspection. For example, call the municipality and homeowners’ association to determine if any complaints have been filed against the property or in the neighborhood. Or visit the property on multiple occasions to observe traffic patterns or noise levels.
10. Don’t be afraid to rely on your real estate agent’s knowledge. An agent can provide wise counsel about a variety of matters from the property’s condition to its potential resale value and can help shepherd you through the closing process.