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Legal Tips For Buying And Selling A Home

Today Your Legal Corner will discuss “Legal tips for buying and selling a home.”

When to purchase a home

When is the best time to purchase a home?

When I asked Brian Belko, Sales Manager at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors this question, he unequivocally stated:

“I have never known a time when it was not a good time to purchase real estate. In fact, the sooner someone buys a home; the sooner he or she can take advantage of the many benefits home ownership will offer.”

While opinions may vary as to the best time to purchase a home, once you have made the decision to buy or sell a home, selecting a realtor, an attorney or both should be your next step.

Real estate broker/client relationship

In accordance with New Jersey law, it is important to note that real estate brokers are required to define their work relationship to a buyer or seller. Will the broker work exclusively for the buyer, the seller or both as in the case of a disclosed dual agency situation?

Will the real estate broker act as a transaction agent who oversees or aids the actual transaction without giving priority to the seller or buyer? Whatever the relationship, it must be disclosed and explained in writing.

Attorney/client relationship

Importantly, similar rules apply to attorneys when representing clients in real estate along with other matters. The terms of retaining an attorney must be disclosed and defined in an attorney/client retainer agreement.

The question of whether or not to retain an attorney is frequently weighed against the cost of legal representation. When deciding if legal representation makes sense, consider that an experienced real estate attorney will give legal clarity to your contract review, contract negotiation, zoning and disclosure details to name a few.

Contract Review

If you are going to retain a lawyer, do so before both parties sign the contract. Once both parties have signed a standard real estate contract, an attorney only has three business days to review and make recommendations.

Also, once executed, whatever has been written in the contract will be binding on the parties to the agreement. Consult with an attorney in advance of signing the contract. Even if it is only a standard form contract, it should protect both the buyer and the seller.

Contract Negotiation

An experienced negotiator alone is not enough. An experienced negotiator who knows the law is what is needed. You cannot negotiate an issue that is contrary to state or federal law.

Zoning

Legally, what does the current zoning on the proposed property permit? What is the likelihood the current zoning will stay the same? How is the area within a radius of 5 miles zoned? An attorney will answer, review and explain those questions and examine a town’s master plan to determine where future growth will occur.

Disclosure

In New Jersey, the buyer should know that a home seller must disclose known, latent, material defects. An attorney will help the seller complete this form accurately. Not accurately completing a disclosure form could be costly to the seller by exposing them to a lawsuit. Knowing what must be disclosed is critical.

Remember when buying or selling a home: there is no time like the present to create a solid buy/sell team!

Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss “Seller Disclosure.”

Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law offices of Hoffman DiMuzio.

For questions, contact Victoria at [email protected]

Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice.

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