Buying a home is stressful and overwhelming, especially for a first-time homebuyer. For almost all buyers, purchasing a home will be the single largest financial transaction in your life. More often than not, this important decision is being made based on only having viewed the property once or twice.
At Mariano & Coiro, P.C., we have helped thousands of clients buy their homes. We understand what you’re going through and are here to help. This has given us a unique perspective on the process, as we see both the legal side and the interpersonal side through our clients’ eyes. Buying a home is exciting, but we can offer some advice on some things to look for that may have serious future implications.
Top four things to consider when seeing potential properties
- Any existing damage. While New Jersey has strict disclosure rules regarding the history of properties, not all sellers are completely honest, and realtors are only required to disclose what they know or have been told. There is an “implied warrant of habitability” that comes with buying any home, meaning that the seller doesn’t know of anything that would stop you from being able to live there, but there is a lot of room for undisclosed damage in there. It’s important to look for obvious physical signs of damage in any house you view (e.g., water in the basement; water stains on the ceilings; musty smells, etc.) and to ask lots of questions if you do notice something. The most important aspect of your transaction is to make sure you hire a reputable and experienced home inspector to determine the soundness of the home and all of its systems. This is critical, because once you purchase the home, you typically cannot complain of any serious problem post-closing, unless you can prove that the seller failed to disclose a particular condition, or intentionally lied or misled you about something—a very difficult legal standard to meet
- If any past sales fell through. If the house was previously under contract but it fell through, you should find out why. It’s possible the inspections brought back something seriously worrisome, or it’s possible the buyer’s financing just fell through. More information is better, as it will give you a sense of anything wrong with the home. Should you decide to proceed with buying the property even if a past sale fell through, a lawyer can help you make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again by reviewing documents and ensuring terms are favorable.
- Any known cloud on title. A “cloud on title” is anything that could prevent the sale from going through. It is generally uncovered throughout the process, but if it’s known, up front, you can prepare for it or avoid that house. An attorney can give you guidance about how difficult getting around any particular cloud on title may be. However, until title searches are conducted, you will not know for sure about any title issues.
- How motivated the seller is. In some cases, a highly-motivated seller can be a bad sign. You should never be rushed. Having an experienced attorney to help you is great here because they can explore what is at the root of seller’s haste.
Talk to a real estate attorney
If you truly love a home, no matter the drawbacks like damage, cloud on title or an aggressive seller, a lawyer can help you get through the process seamlessly. At Mariano & Coiro, P.C. we guide our clients each step of the way, making sure they get the home that is right for them, on their terms. Reach us by phone at 800-800-9933 or through our contact page.