Buying a House in the District of Columbia

There are few purchases in life as momentous as a buying a home, and few as stressful. While there are guidelines that all homebuyers should keep in mind, there are also some that vary across state lines. For home buyers in Washington, D.C., knowing what to expect from the transaction can help ease any anxieties. That way, you can focus on enjoying this milestone.

Why Work with a Buyer's Real Estate Agent?

Real estate agents work on all sides of a real estate transaction, for the seller, the buyer and, in some cases, both. Buyers usually fare best, however, when they have their own agents. The seller's agent is contractually bound to forwarding the seller's best interests, which can make dual agency a tricky proposition. Plus, your agent is more than just a salesperson who shows you around properties. He or she sees the transaction through to closing and negotiates on your behalf. To find an agent, a good place to start is with a professional organization such as the District of Columbia Association of REALTORS.

How Does Property Disclosure Work?

By law, sellers are required to disclose certain known defects about a property to prospective buyers. The Real Property Seller's Disclosure Statement form for D.C. includes sections for:

  • Structural conditions, such as the roof, walls and basement
  • Operating condition of property systems, including electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning
  • Appliances and fixtures
  • Exterior and environmental issues

Is a Purchasing Agreement Legally Binding?

Yes. Once you make an offer on a property, the details of the sale are outlined in a contract called the purchasing agreement. It outlines the terms of the sale, price, information about the parties involved and more. It should also allow for an inspection before the sale is final.

Why Get a Home Inspection?

While a seller is required by law to disclose known defects, often there are issues that have been overlooked. Or, there may be flaws that are not yet serious but have the potential to soon become problematic. Home inspectors are licensed professionals who can perform a visual appraisal of the property to seek out any red flags. If defects are found, the next step is usually to negotiate with the seller how to address them.

What Is a Title Search?

Before the sale can go through, your attorney or title company must research public records to ensure there are no liens or other issues preventing the title from transferring. Title insurance protects you against any losses you may incur due to items overlooked in this search.

What You Should Know About Buying Foreclosure Property in D.C.

Foreclosure sales in D.C. are usually done out of the court. When an borrower defaults on a mortgage, the lender can begin foreclosure. The lender must send a notice to the borrower at least 30 days before a foreclosure sale. The borrower has up to five days before the sale to make good on the debt and hold onto the property.

A Residential Real Estate Lawyer Can Help

Residential real estate laws in Washington, D.C., are complicated, and each transaction is unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a Washington, D.C., real estate lawyer.

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