Before You Sell - Know the Law

Kathryn Lively

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There's more to selling a home than putting up a “For Sale" sign and waiting for people to make offers. If want to sell your home, you need to be aware of the many local and state laws and various regulations attached to selling property. You have be knowledgeable about real estate contracts and know every step involved with regards to inspection, financial considerations, and legal paperwork.

For a real estate contract between two parties to be legal, for example, it must have the following elements:

  • At least TWO parties of sound mind in agreement of the contract - the buyer and the seller
  • Legal identification to verify legal signatures on all paperwork
  • The correct address of the property for sale
  • All agreements with regards to the sale and promises of payment made in writing and signed
  • Unqualified understanding between the buyer and seller so each is aware of payment schedules and other considerations
Coming to an understanding with a potential home buyer is one thing. When you consider going the For Sale By Owner route, you also need to be aware of the many laws attached to selling a house. Local and county laws may vary according to where you live, but there are at least twelve worth researching before you put up your sign:

Seller Disclosure Laws - By law, you are required to inform any potential buyers of damage or other problems with the home that may impact its value in the future. If the house will be in need of a new roof in a year, or if there are cracks in the foundation that need repair, you are obliged to let buyers know.

Lead Base Paint Disclosure - Similar to the Seller Disclosure, if lead-based paint has been used in your home, you are required to inform all potential buyers of this.

Federal Fair Housing Laws - In accordance with Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, it is illegal to discriminate against a potential home buyer based upon race or color, gender, creed, nationality or handicap. These laws prevent refusal of a sale or price adjustment of a home based upon these factors.

State and Local Housing Laws - Your particular region may have specific laws relating to the sale of homes in the area. It is highly recommend to research any possible regulations that may affect your ability to sell on your own.

Advertising and Marketing Laws - If you plan to take on the advertising of your home sale by yourself, you may need to be aware of certain regulations applicable to your area. If you are placing a newspaper or magazine ad, you may be required to disclose specific information about your home. Do your homework!

Real Estate Contract Law - Is the contract you have with your potential buyer valid? Are there any hidden clauses that may come back to haunt you later? Know what your sale contract says and means before it is signed.

Zoning and Local Ordinance Laws - The sale of your home may be subject to various zoning laws and ordinances in your area. For example, a buyer may want your house for a home-based business or for charity purposes, but the laws in your town may not permit that. Research what regulations are applicable to your property before you sell.

Occupancy Laws - Is your home subject to occupancy laws? Can you legally sell your house to more than one family unit? Before you put your house up for sale, make sure you research any occupancy limits and restrictions.

Building Code Laws - Is your home “up to code"? In other words, is the house compliant to all safety and health codes? Have any repairs and remodeling work been done to the house, and if so were they done with the required materials? It is not legal to sell an unsafe home, so make sure any construction done before the sale is completed safely and correctly.

Environmental Rules and Regulations - Is there anything in your home that poses a potential environmental hazard? Is the construction of your home sound and free of asbestos and other harmful elements? Make sure you know what is considered toxic in your area, and that it's not in your home!

Stigmatized Property Laws - Was your home the scene of a murder or other disastrous crime? Is your home a local legend in that people believe it's haunted or cursed? It may sound amusing, but sometimes it can be difficult to sell property that has been “stigmatized" by gossip and legend. If your house has such a legacy, it is best to research any disclosure laws that apply to the sale. If somebody was murdered in your home, for example, you may have to disclose that to a buyer.

Governmental Rights and Real Property Laws - Each state has its own laws with regards to the definition of “real property. " It is suggested all potential sellers know how their states interpret what is real property as opposed to “personal property. " This may affect certain appliances in the house to convey with the sale, or property lines. Governmental rights laws may be put into effect if the government is interested in acquiring property for various purposes (i. e. you own a parcel of land where an interstate is to be built). Read up on these laws before you sell.

Selling a home can be a daunting process, made all the more difficult if you are not aware of the many laws in your area that bind you to certain obligations. So before you hang that sign, make certain you are knowledgeable about the implications behind it. Having the law on your side will make for a smoother sell.

The Write SEO writes content for Lori Panther, experienced real estate agent in Virginia Beach , and for CINIVA Systems, Virginia Beach web design .


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