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Charting the Course to Home

Traversing the Practical and Legal Considerations of Home Buying

Article by Dr. Brad Mitchell, MA, JD | Attorney & Realtor

Photography by Steve Grant | Grant Foto

Originally published in Cypress Lifestyle

Begin with the End in Mind

Home buying begins with a budget in mind that should include expenses like the mortgage, insurance, taxes, homeowners’ association dues and home maintenance.  Consider your ideal home, its location, and the amenities you want in a neighborhood then engage a real estate agent familiar with your target area to identify homes that suit your lifestyle and budget. They can help complete the forms required for the written offer, coordinate negotiations, escrow, and closing. Your agent can also introduce you to other professionals to assist you like title insurance, inspectors, mortgage services, and attorneys.

Get Legal Advice

The Texas Real Estate Commission has published the contracts required for home sales. They instruct you to “consult an attorney before signing.” This is sound advice because these contracts contain legal obligations that you must understand before agreeing to them. Some agents are also attorneys. Only attorneys can provide legal advice, not agents, not brokers.

Hire a Home Inspector

Before contracts become effective, sellers are required to make disclosures regarding property condition. Seller’s disclosures include home features, equipment, and known defects. Seller’s disclosure and visual examination of a property are not enough. While you may be tempted to skip the expense, hiring a licensed inspector to conduct a home inspection is essential. They work for you and will identify any potential problems both immediate and in the future. This applies to new homes too. What is found can be used as a negotiating tool or provide you with a reason to terminate the contract.

Closing Day

When both parties execute the contract, you enter escrow with the chosen title company. Mortgages require title insurance to protect you against loss from liens, easements, or other restrictions that affect ownership. If the title company uncovers problems, you should require their correction as a condition to closing.

Buying a home can be a daunting task. Following these tips will help smooth a path to your new home.