Montana Real Estate – 3 Legal Issues You Need to Know About
Buying or selling real estate is a complicated process that is fraught with potential legal risks. Sellers are required to make certain disclosures before they can sell real estate to prospective buyers. Real estate agents must be free of conflicts and competently represent their clients to ensure that their clients get the best possible deal. Below are a few issues involving real estate law in Montana that you should discuss with an attorney before buying or selling a real property:
Property Disclosures in Montana
The key rule for sellers is when in doubt, disclose the issue. Many states require that the seller conduct an inspection of the home and disclose what was discovered. A seller’s failure to disclose certain information may be grounds for a lawsuit. Such information may include, but is not limited to: foundation problems, foreclosures, or even deaths in the property. A seller should conduct his or her due diligence and then make disclosures where appropriate.
Montana is rather unique in that it is one of only 12 states that do not require the sales price to be disclosed to the public or available in the public record. Additionally, the sales prices of all real estate and the property information related to the sale must be kept confidential by the Montana Department of Revenue and county clerks.
Property Titles in Montana
Home buyers may wish to perform a title search to ensure they are paying the proper owner. A title search shows the history of the ownership as well as any debts, liens, mortgages, or foreclosures that may have transpired. A title search is often necessary to prevent potential fraud or misrepresentations by the sellers of the property.
However, a title search is not foolproof. A title search can find any legal disputes involving the property such as a probate dispute between the heirs or adverse possession lawsuits, but it cannot detect forgery or clerical errors.
Dual Real Estate Agents in Montana
Real estate agents usually 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. 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. Montana is one of those states.
However, dual agency is a potentially risky. Dual agency opens up potential conflicts of interest when the agent must represent both sides of the transaction without impairing the interests of either party. The real estate agent must represent both parties equally and cannot favor one client over the other. In Montana, dual agency must be established by signed and written consent of both parties.
Do I Need a Montana Real Estate Lawyer?
If you are purchasing or selling a home in Montana, it is important to have an attorney’s help ensuring that all requirements are met and all documentation is clear and accurate. Having a lawyer help at the outset will prevent future unnecessary disputes. It is essential to have the assistance of a skilled Montana real estate lawyer with any real estate issues you may have in Montana especially if it involves a complex transaction.