Buying a new home is huge milestone, one that is exciting for individuals and families alike. But it can be an overwhelming experience, too, with a myriad of steps and seemingly endless paperwork. Knowing what to expect, especially regarding legal issues, can help ease your anxiety. While there are legal guidelines that all U.S. homebuyers should keep in mind, the specifics vary a bit across state lines.
Your Real Estate Agent
While a real estate agent is not necessary for all real estate transactions, many home buyers find it helpful to have someone in their corner who knows the process in and out. Real estate agents can represent sellers, buyers, and in some cases, both, though dual representation can be tricky. It is generally best for buyers to have their own agents. To find a real estate agent in Indiana, you may want to start with a professional organization such as the Indiana Association of REALTORS®.
What Must a Seller Disclose?
Sellers must disclose certain known defects about a property. The state of Indiana provides a form for this purpose. It includes sections for:
- Electrical systems
- Water and sewer systems
- Heating and cooling systems
- Hazardous conditions
- Other disclosures
What Is a Purchasing Agreement?
The purchasing agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines all of the details of the sale, including information about the property itself, the buyer and seller, the terms and conditions, the price, and more. It should allow for an inspection and any other items that may be pending before closing.
Do You Need Inspections?
In a word, yes. Even though the seller is required to disclose known defects, there may be more that are unknown or that could be the beginnings of serious problems in the near future. A licensed inspector can perform a visual appraisal of the property to look for such issues. If defects are found, the next step is usually to negotiate how to address them.
Are There Legal Title Issues?
Before real estate can transfer from one owner to the other, your title company or real estate attorney must research public records to ensure there are no problems attached to it that could prevent the transfer. It is not uncommon for this title search to reveal lien and easement issues. Title insurance covers any issues that arise later that are missed during the title search.
Are You Purchasing Foreclosure Property?
Some states offer a redemption period, during which the previous owner who was foreclosed upon can reclaim the property if he or she is able to come up with the money to repay the debt. Indiana is not one of them.
Get Legal Advice
Residential real estate laws in Indiana are complicated. And each transaction is unique. For more legal advice specific to your situation, please contact an Indiana real estate lawyer.