Purchasing real estate is most likely the largest and most important purchase you will make in your lifetime. For this reason, it literally pays to give detailed attention to every aspect of the transaction.
“The first rule in purchasing real estate is simple—use professionals who do this type of thing day in and day out to make sure every base is covered,” explains Fred Roberts Jr., an attorney with Klein & Klein in Ocala. “Using professional brokers, lenders, home inspectors, surveyors and attorneys ensures the process is completed properly.”
Roberts, who specializes in real estate, probate and commercial matters, says that if you’re buying a home, hire a licensed home inspector to inspect the house thoroughly for any physical defects. Inspectors look for electrical, plumbing and structural problems that the ordinary person might easily miss.
Also, investigate to see if the property is under the jurisdiction of a Home Owner’s Association. HOA fees can be substantial and their rules can be quite restrictive. A licensed realtor can find out for you, but sometimes the quickest way to find out is to ask others who live in the neighborhood.
“To me, a very important part of the purchase is the survey,” Roberts offers. “A survey does several things. Foremost, it physically delineates the boundaries of your property using the legal description, and it shows where any existing improvements lie in relation to those boundaries. It will also show where any easements might exist and the setback requirements on the property, in case you should choose to build a structure, pool, etc., in the future. A survey also shows if the land lies in a flood zone, which can possibly affect the insurance you will be required to carry on any home you build there, especially if the property is purchased with a loan. It can also uncover some title problems prior to a title search.”
Roberts says that a title search is imperative and can be performed by a title company or an attorney. A title search will identify the legal owner of the property, along with any liens, mortgages, delinquent taxes, leases or judgments against the property. It will also depict any existing easements or restrictions.
“Title insurance is a must,” he stresses. “If there are any unforeseen or hidden problems with a title, title insurance can protect you from losing your investment.”