Buying or selling property is thankfully something most do only a handful of times in our lives. It is a stressful and time-consuming affair. It is by no means an easy or straightforward task. Listing all the things you need to be aware of when moving would involve a much longer piece than I’m intending to write here. But one thing we do need to be mindful of is the property and the law, there are various legal aspects we must deal with when buying, selling, and owning property.
Property & the Law: Things You Need to Know
Looking to Sell
Selling a property is the first step in the process unless you are a first-time buyer. This creates the tricky part as every transaction has three moving parts, the home you are selling, the one you are buying, and the one the seller is buying. It’s vital to get all of this in order before you put the house on the market.
Firstly, all of the paperwork needs to be in order before you think about anything else. It may seem common sense, but you can see how a missing document can be an issue. You must have available the plans and survey documents, the title deeds, the most recent real estate tax bill, and a copy of any homeowner association rules and fees for the estate. There are certain circumstances where it may take a while to get this arranged, such as when you are inheriting a property, it may be preferable to have a quick sale, but there is no way around the paperwork.
Searching for a Home
Searching for a home is the easy part, say you are looking for homes for sale in Arizona, we can see what is available. Online searches can show us choices based on cost, number of rooms, area, and much more. Be aware of what is involved in making an offer. The first step is to organize a viewing, you can get a feel of the condition of the property by looking around and inspecting the interior and exterior. Not all problems can be seen with a viewing. We must get the home buyer’s survey completed, this is a legal requirement if we are placing a firm offer. It’s good practice to try and not get too many reports authored, as this can become very costly.
One tempting idea is to buy land and have a property built to your exact specifications. If you have the time and money, this can be a great way to get the exact property you desire. There are some factors to consider when going down this road as you can get into some trouble if you are not careful. You should secure planning permission before purchase; this avoids the disastrous situation of being left with unusable land. As well as the permission to build, you must arrange for water, electricity, gas, and phone lines, these all can come at a high cost, especially if the property is rural.
If you are looking to acquire commercial property, there are a few differences to buying a home. Firstly, it is much more common to lease rather than buy commercial units, especially if it is in a high-prestige area. You must be careful, taking on a commercial lease, there tends to be much more variation in terms and conditions than you find in residential property. Always have an experienced commercial real estate lawyer look over the contract and don’t be afraid to ask for changes and negotiate the lease to reflect what you need. If you neglect this step, you could find yourself tied to an unsustainable lease, or be liable for expensive repairs and upkeep.
Certain things are legally required to be disclosed when selling a house. Obvious ones include defects with the structure or utilities. For example, if the wiring is below acceptable standards, or there is rot or insect infestations. Past damage such as recent flooding is another. More gruesome aspects also have there been a death, murder or crime occur on the premises. It’s important to know disclosure requirements differ between states, when selling a house in Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, or New York, you must disclose paranormal activity!
Pulling Out of a Sale
There are various reasons that a property sale might fall through. But if you are the one doing the pulling out, you must take care to ensure you are doing so legally. It may be that your mortgage application has hit an unexpected snag, but this may still leave you vulnerable to a compensation claim if you have confirmed the sale. Other reasons might be that there has been an unexpected issue arise on the home-buyers report. This would leave you in a much stronger position to pull out, or even renegotiate the price. It is always advisable to consult a lawyer when considering any reversal of an agreement.
Often a homeowner will consider letting out their property and becoming a landlord. This could be for various reasons, such as moving home, but not wishing to sell, or you may have acquired a property on a buy-to-let basis intending to rent it from the start.
There are two legal principles to be aware of when letting a property. The first is that you often cannot let out a property on a personal mortgage. Check the terms of your loan and consider the cost of re-mortgaging if needed. The second is insurance, you will require landlord’s insurance, this is a must, as you are responsible for the upkeep of the property, some policies may even give heating and boiler cover.
Being a Tenant
You may find yourself on the other side of letting property, and it is also important to be aware of your rights and obligations. Always insist on any deposit being held by a third party. If you are letting an agency check their online reviews and if previous renters have had issues with them? Be aware of your rights as a renter and always be prepared to defend them. If in doubt consult a landlord-tenant lawyer for advice.