Buying a home is a complicated process that often seems simple on the surface. You may have already obtained pre-approval for a mortgage and likely know the kind of home you want to purchase. Once you begin the house-hunting process, you may quickly learn that there is much more you need to do beyond deciding on a price.
In fact, making an offer can be a difficult process, as the paperwork required often spans dozens of pages. With such an important decision and major investment, you need the right help. If you don't understand the documents you plan to execute, that can leave you in a legally vulnerable position.
Most offers on homes are binding
Too many people looking to buy a home fail to understand that once they submit a written offer, they have an obligation to follow through with that offer. Unless the seller substantially misrepresents the property during the initial showing, the listing documentation or closing disclosure, the buyer will likely forfeit any earnest money on a property if they later choose to rescind an offer.
In some cases, sellers may even have the right to seek other damages, such as real estate costs, if buyers back out of a sale after making an accepted offer. It's important that you understand the terms of the purchase offer you make prior to signing it and sending it on to the seller's agent.
If you don't make your offer contingent on passing an inspection, for example, it can be hard to negotiate your position if you later find serious defects in the property. Understanding the legal requirements for you, as a buyer, as well as your rights in the market, will improve your chances of success and decrease the risk you incur when you consider a real estate purchase.
Mortgage documents often include surprising terms
Most adults likely remember the financial shocks that resulted from the 2008 mortgage crisis. A lot of the issues at that time stemmed from the fact that home buyers and mortgage borrowers did not fully understand the terms of the documents that they signed.
Many buyers found themselves trapped in an adjustable rate mortgage that offered steep increases in payments after a certain amount of time. The end result was that homeowners were not able to afford later payments, leading to a large number of foreclosures as the result of non-payment.
You want to make sure that you fully understand the terms of your mortgage before you sign documents. Everything from the length of the mortgage to whether your rate is locked are important considerations. So is whether your lender will charge a fee if you pay off your mortgage or refinance within a certain amount of time.
Getting expert legal advice before making a real estate deal is a smart decision. The more informed you are, the better able you are to make good decisions about what will probably be the biggest investment of your life.