Spring home buying season is upon us! While buying a new home should be exciting and fun, there are also major legal considerations at each step of the home buying process. If you are not careful, you can easily make a legal mistake that can have long-lasting consequences. First time home buyers can be especially vulnerable.
An experienced legal attorney can help protect your interests and avoid these three mistakes many North Carolina home buyers make:
Home buying Mistake #1: Signing a Contract Without Legal Counsel
The Real Estate Purchase Agreement, also known as an “Offer to Purchase” or “Contract”, is a legal document that dictates the terms and conditions of the real estate transaction. In North Carolina any agreement to purchase or sell a home must be documented in writing; a verbal agreement is unenforceable. As with any legally-binding document, you should never sign a contract without an experienced lawyer reviewing it first.
It is important that your attorney reviews the contract because it determines how the transaction will be executed and how any disputes will be resolved. These agreements can have serious financial implications. For example, it could ensure that appliances like refrigerators and washing machines are included with the sale of the home, that there are no zoning issues that would negatively impact your ability to live in the home or that you have the right to inspect the electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems and request that the seller pays for any necessary repairs.
There is a laundry list of these types of issues that an experienced lawyer will make sure are covered. For a complete list of legal issues you should think about while drafting a Real Estate Purchase Agreement, see Buying A Home In North Carolina, a free guide published by the North Carolina Bar Association.
Home Buying Mistake #2: Failing to Protect Against Title Issues
A difficult title issue is one of the most common reasons that real estate transactions fall through or that a home owner finds himself dealing with major title restrictions down the line. Home buyers that fail to protect themselves against title issues during the home buying process are making a major mistake that could have massive financial impacts.
There are two steps that every home buyer should make during the buying process to avoid title issues:
First, home buyers should obtain a title examination to ensure the Seller’s title is not subject to any liens, easements, or other title restrictions. When you request a title examination your licensed attorney will conduct an extensive review of public records looking for any outstanding deeds of trusts, unpaid taxes or assessments, zoning requirements, easements or other restrictions.
Second, although it is not mandated by the state of North Carolina, most mortgage lenders require buyers to purchase title insurance. We recommend every home buyer purchase title insurance even when it is not required by the lender. A title insurance policy will protect you from any title issues that were not detected in the tile search or that may arise in the future. You can purchase a policy for a low one-time fee. Knowing that you will not be liable for any future title issues is well worth the cost of the policy.
Home Buying Mistake #3: Not Being Prepared for Closing
The last thing a home buyer wants is for an unexpected glitch to halt the transaction on closing day. The best way to avoid a crisis at closing is to be well prepared.
An experienced real estate attorney will make sure that all the “i’s” are dotted and “t’s” are crossed so that everything goes smoothly at closing.
Your attorney will coordinate with your real estate agent, mortgage lender and title company have all the paperwork ready to be signed, that the seller has met all of the terms of the contract and that the deed is properly recorded with the county courthouse. As a home buyer, you can come prepared with all the proper financial information, transaction-related documents and identification you will need. Your attorney will tell you everything you need to bring.
The home buying process can be daunting. Especially for first-time home buyers. The lawyers at Perry, Bundy, Plyler and Long LLP will help you navigate each step of the process from beginning to end. We have over serving Union County since 1980 helping North Carolina families buy their dream homes. Give us a call at 704-289-2519 to schedule an appointment with one of our real estate attorneys.