Buying a home is one of the most exciting times of a person’s life. However, it’s important to realize that any real estate transaction is a very intricate process fraught with many pitfalls along the way. As Lexington, Mass.-based REALTOR® Kristin Brown Orr explains, “Every sale is different, with different buyers, different sellers, and different intermediaries. It’s no wonder people find the process so daunting with all of its legalities, documentation, and fine print.”
According to Orr, the more buyers understand the potential problems that can occur when buying a home, the more prepared they will be to protect their interests. To that end, Orr highlights five problems homebuyers need to be aware of…along with potential solutions:
- Failed home inspection. If the home you are buying does not fair well upon inspection due to health or safety concerns like mold, radon, faulty electrical systems, or structural problems, the seller should fix these issues or extend you a credit or discount in the sale price so that you can have them fixed. If he refuses to do so, you have the right to back out of the sale and search for a new home.
- Seller is poorly motivated to sell. If a seller’s heart is not in a sale, he might be prone to missing or canceling appraisals and inspections – all of which could threaten your purchase.
- Seller hasn’t found a new home to move into. If a seller has trouble finding a replacement property and refuses to consider temporary arrangements, you might find yourself in a tricky timing situation – particularly if you have a closing date on the home you are leaving. Are you prepared to wait it out in temporary housing while you wait for the seller to move out?
- Title issues. If your seller owes money on the property you are buying, either for repayment of a debt, failure to pay taxes, or because money is owed for repairs or work done on the property, creditors with an interest in that property may take out a lien, rendering the seller unable to sell until those debts are repaid. In the meantime, you won’t be able to make the purchase.
- Failure of the seller to make agreed upon repairs. If the seller has contractually promised to deliver the property to you in a certain condition and fails to deliver, you have the right to terminate the contract and back out of the sale if you are not prepared to accept the property as is. An alternative to this situation is to talk to your attorney about either requesting a sum of money to do the fixes yourself, or request a hold back.
“The concerns listed above may seem gloomy, but it’s important to remember that most real estate transactions wrap up smoothly,” says Orr. “Being educated about the potential pitfalls will simply give you a leg up on any problems that may arise. Do your homework and beware of risks. Keep informed in order to safeguard against anything within your control and keep a watchful eye so that if something does go wrong, you can address it immediately and land yourself the home of your dreams.”