Top 3 Legal Issues When Buying or Selling Real Estate
Buying or selling real estate is as a serious process that is subject to potential legal dangers. Here are a few issues involving real estate law in Pennsylvania that you should discuss with an attorney before buying or selling a real property:
For sellers, the key rule is when in doubt, disclose the issue. A seller’s failure to disclose certain information may be grounds for a lawsuit. Such information may include, but is not limited to: damage to the property, foundation problems, foreclosures, or even deaths in the property. Additionally, many states require that the seller conduct an inspection of the home and disclose what was discovered. A seller should conduct his or her due diligence and then make disclosures where appropriate and not simply claim ignorance without looking at the property first.
Home disclosure forms are also a potential trap for the unwary and unscrupulous. A home buyer can take legal action against a seller for rating a home feature as being in a better condition than it is, omitting a material defect, or outright lying about a material defect. Notably, the omission or potential fraud must be “material,” as in a defect that could significantly impact the value of the property or a buyer’s decision to purchase it. Miner defects such as a small scratch on a wall may not be worth pursuing a legal action over.
Dual Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents typically represent either the seller or buyer in a real estate transaction. Some states permit dual agency, whereby a real estate agent can represent both the buyer and a seller. Pennsylvania is one of those states. A dual agency may be favorable as both parties may save on the real estate agents’ fees and to minimize the amount of potential documents exchanged.
However, dual agency is a potentially risk endeavor. Many states do not permit dual agency due to the possible conflict of interest that may arise when an agent must obtain the highest price for the seller and the best bargain for the buyer without sharing otherwise confidential information with either party. Dual agency should be established in writing and both parties must consent prior to the dual agency taking effect.
Home buyers may wish to perform a title search to ensure the buyer is paying the actual owner. A title search shows the history of the ownership as well as any liens, debts, mortgages, probate actions, or foreclosures that may have transpired with the property. A title search is often necessary to prevent any potential fraud or misrepresentations by the sellers of the property.
However, a title search is not a foolproof defense. A title search will find any legal disputes involving the property such as a probate dispute between the heirs or adverse possession lawsuits, but it cannot detect evidence of forgery or clerical errors.
Do I Need a Lawyer For Real Estate Issues in Pittsburg, PA?
Local real estate law is often complex and full of nuisances. A real estate lawyer can help you with any real estate issues you may have in Pittsburg, PA Your attorney can provide legal guidance and can represent you in court.