QUESTION: I am about to purchase my first home and have heard horror stories about people losing their deposits or buying a house with problems. What should I do to protect myself?
ANSWER: It may sound trite, but the key is being prepared from the beginning. Line up your team. Interview and investigate before selecting your real estate agent, mortgage lender, home inspector and closing attorney. Check the Internet for reviews of your providers and call them to ask about their services and prices.
Once you find a house, have your attorney review the contract to make sure you are protected. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Getting the contract right at the start is one of the most important steps in a successful closing. Mark all the key dates on your calendar, such as the inspection and mortgage financing deadlines. Get your home inspection as quickly as possible and follow up with the inspector. Stay in contact with your loan officer and make sure to immediately provide any additional documents that are requested.
If you do need to get out of the contract, make sure you give the appropriate amount of notice so that you can get your deposit back without a fight. Review the title commitment and lien search with your attorney, making sure that there are no open permits or other issues. Ask to see the closing paperwork, including the settlement statement, at least a day prior to the closing. A real estate closing does not need to be scary or difficult.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program. Send him questions online at http://sunsent.nl/mR20t7 or follow him on Twitter GarySingerLaw.
The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.