Buying a house is an exciting experience. It might be the largest transaction you'll ever be involved with, so you'll want to do it right. When you're purchasing a house in Arizona, you should be aware of certain legal issues involved in a residential real estate transaction, such as disclosures, uncovering title defects, removing encumbrances, and dealing with zoning issues, assessments, taxes and other legal issues. Before you buy a home, contact a real estate agent who can ensure that you have the proper documents and who can professionally prepare and negotiate a home transaction for you.

Locating an Arizona Real Estate Agent

One way to find a real estate agent familiar with your area is to go to the National Association of Realtors' website or your local Chamber of Commerce. Other business professionals are also a key source for the names of reputable agents.

Arizona Property Disclosure Obligations

Arizona law requires that sellers provide a property disclosure statement detailing known property defects, although the agent isn't required to verify them. Disclosures in the form include:

  • Environmental hazards
  • Termites and other pests
  • Soil settlement, drainage or erosion
  • Noise and odor issues
  • Conditions conducive to mold
  • Water and dampness issues
  • Drinking water problems
  • Sewage treatment
  • Flooding, drainage and uses on neighboring properties if the property is in a subdivision, as well as utility providers, area services, property taxes and homeowners associations
  • If the property is a condominium or planned community, a notice must be presented to the buyer within 10 days after notice of a pending sale. The notice must include the association's bylaws and rules, a copy of the declaration, assessments, insurance, and financial information for the association.

Purchase Agreements

A purchase agreement is a legally enforceable document that contains the material terms and conditions of your real estate transaction. Real estate transactions must be in writing to be valid. Purchase agreements in Arizona must include:

  • Purchase price
  • Names and addresses of the parties
  • Amount of down payment
  • Duration of the offer
  • Condition of the property
  • Closing and possession dates
  • Items included or not included in the sale
  • Legal description.

Home Inspection

Before closing on your home, you'll need an independent home inspection performed by a competent inspector to be sure no material defects exist that could affect the home’s condition. A failure to inspect could leave you with no legal remedy against the seller. Issues the inspector should look for include:

  • Termites and other pests
  • Information relating to soil settlement, drainage or erosion
  • Noise and odor issues
  • Presence of conditions that could lead to mold
  • Drinking water issues
  • If the property is connected to a sewer and, if so, verify the connection
  • Foundation and structural integrity
  • Heating and cooling system, electrical, plumbing, walls, drainage, basement and flooring

Finding an Arizona Inspector

An Arizona home inspector must complete a program approved by the Arizona Board of Technical Registration and pass the National Home Inspector Examination before receiving state licensing. You can find a reputable inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.

Legal Title Issues

Title searches are conducted by title companies or attorneys who look for the presence of encumbrances, easements, rights-of-way, tax liens, and any covenants, conditions and restrictions that could affect title. Title insurance is required by all lenders to ensure against any losses from defective titles that are unknown at the time of sale. It also protects the buyer against any encumbrances that may affect title.

Help From a Real Estate Attorney

This article provides a general introduction. For specific legal information regarding your home-buying experience, please contact an Arizona real estate lawyer.

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