— Real Estate: Buying a Home —
Like other trades and industries, real estate has a language all its own. For someone who isn’t experienced with real estate terminology the language can be both confusing and intimidating. Some of the basic terms you may run into are as follows. A “listing agreement” is a contract that’s signed between a person trying to sell property and the agent they’re using. “Disclosure” is a principle outlined by state law that requires a person to inform a potential buyer of all pertinent information about the property. The “implied warranty of habitability” is a law that requires the landlord to keep properties up to a level suitable for human habitation. To curtail discriminatory housing practices, the federal government passed the “Fair Housing Act”. This law serves to guarantee certain rights to everyone seeking housing in the United States. “Probate sales” are sales that result from the death of a property owner. In this situation, the courts appoint an “Executor” to carry out the sale of the property so that the money may be divided among all heirs. These are merely a few of the terms that one might run across in the real estate market. For more information about real estate terminology see our Home Buyer’s Vocabulary page, or contact an experienced real estate lawyer in your area.
Do I need a lawyer to buy a home?
There is no law in Idaho which requires you to hire a lawyer. However, purchasing a home is probably the largest single investment you will ever make. A lawyer can help with the complex paperwork and legal contracts. A lawyer can review contracts, review title to the property, make you aware of special considerations, any defects in title, covenants, restrictions or easements affecting the property and assist you with the closing process. To receive maximum benefit from a lawyer, the lawyer should be hired before you sign an Agreement of Purchase and Sale. Even if you are working with a real estate agent, it is important to have the purchase agreement reviewed by an attorney BEFORE YOU SIGN IT. At that point it is only an offer, but if the seller accepts the offer, you are bound by the agreement and may not generally make changes. The cost of such a review would not generally exceed $200.00; if the attorney notes changes that should be made, it will generally be worth your while to have those changes made even if it costs you more than the initial review.
How do I begin the home buying process?
The first step is to conduct the proper amount of research. Doing research is the most important step in deciding to buy a house. Start by thinking about your situation. Are you ready to buy a home? How much can you afford in a monthly mortgage payment? How much space do you need? What areas of town do you like?
After you answer these questions, create a To Do list and begin your initial research. Talk to friends and family, drive through neighborhoods, and look in the Homes section of the newspaper. With the proper amount of research, you will be in a much better position to make decisions regarding the purchase of your new home.
How do I know if I am ready to buy a home?
Buying a home is a major decision. A home is the largest purchase that you will likely make during your life. By asking yourself the following questions you can find out if you may be ready to buy a house:
- Do I have a steady source of income?
- Have I been employed on a regular basis for the last 2-3 years?
- Is my current income reliable?
- Do I have a good record of paying my bills?
- Do I have few outstanding long-term debts, like car payments?
- Do I have money saved for a down payment?
- Do I have the ability to pay a mortgage every month, plus additional costs?
- If you can answer yes to these questions, you may be ready to buy your own home.