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Navigating Real Estate Contracts

Important Points About Real Estate Contracts

You may have heard that the three most important things about real estate are: Location, Location, Location. But the actual most important thing to know about real estate is something called the “statute of frauds,” which is a doctrine of law that requires real estate contracts to be in writing. It extremely important because it means that everything about your agreement to purchase a home needs to be in writing, and signed by all the parties.

In Alabama, the second most important thing to remember is that our state uses the caveat emptor rule. Caveat emptor is Latin for “let the buyer beware,” and it means that the seller has no actual duty to advise the buyer of issues with the property’s physical condition during the sale.

Here are some simple tips for navigating your real estate purchase while keeping both of those things in mind:

  • Read a sample contract (and any other documents you will be signing) before you write an offer. Once you fall in love with a house, it might be tempting to rush through the details of the contract without much discussion(aside from the price and the closing date). 
  • HOW WE CAN HELP: Ask your agent to supply a contract in advance of writing an offer so you can consider how each of the sections will impact the buying process. Timelines for loan application, home inspections, pest inspections and closing will be important for both parties. Once you have a signed agreement, changing those terms can be a bit cumbersome.
  • Consider all the inspections you will need and research possible inspectors ahead of time. Potential inspections include: home inspection, pest inspection, septic system inspection, pool inspection, structural engineer’s report, and/or well water test. Other similar inspections can be done if you like, but you will need to make sure you provide enough time in your inspection period to fit them all in.
  • HOW WE CAN HELP: We can supply a list of recommended professionals in almost every area you can think of, so you can start researching providers before you need them.
  • Use all means necessary to investigate the conditions of the house that factor into your buying decision. From room measurements and total square footage, to school districts or past insurance claims on the property, buyers need to perform their due diligence to verify all information about the house.
  • HOW WE CAN HELP: We can supply contact information for schools, websites for research and other reference materials you can use to do your research. 
  • Remember that verbal agreements are can’t be enforced in court. No matter what anyone says, if there’s a chance for any disagreement, put it in writing.
  • HOW WE CAN HELP: We can supply forms for many of the most common situations, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Rebecca Lowrey

Realtor/Team Lead

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