Buying a House in Iowa

A new home brings a fresh beginning. Getting from the point of browsing real estate ads to having your new house keys in hand, however, can be a cumbersome and overwhelming process. The more you know about what to expect, the more relaxed and enjoyable your home-buying experience will be. There are guidelines that all homebuyers should bear in mind, and also specifics that vary from state to state.

Partnering With a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents are more than just salespeople. These professionals bring a lot of know-how and connections to the table. They stay on top of administrative tasks and represent you in negotiations. An agent may work on either side of the transaction, for the seller or the buyer, or in some cases for both, though buyers are usually better off retaining their own agents. To find an agent in Iowa, a good starting point might be a professional organization such as the Iowa Association of REALTORS®

Property Disclosure Requirements

Sellers must disclose certain known defects about a dwelling. Failure to do so could result in a lawsuit later on. The State of Iowa provides a form for property disclosures. It asks specific questions regarding structural, roofing, plumbing and sewerage, lead-based paint, radon, electrical, pest infestation, and other issues.

Purchasing Agreement Basics

There are many details involved in a real estate transaction—information about the property, the seller, and the buyer; the terms of the sale including price; and contractual obligations. A purchasing agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines all the details to facilitate the transfer of property. It may also include provisions that are pending before the sale is complete, such as an inspection.

Understanding Inspections

Even though the seller is legally bound to disclose known defects of the dwelling, it is important to have a licensed inspector appraise the property for current or potential issues that may have been missed. The Iowa chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors is a great resource to learn more about inspections in Iowa.

Issues With Legal Titles

Before property can pass from one owner to another, a title search is necessary to ensure there are no issues impeding the transfer. Some issues that are revealed frequently during a title search include liens and easements against the property. Title insurance covers any problems that may arise later that aren’t found during this search.

Special Considerations for Buying Foreclosure Property

If you are purchasing a foreclosure property in Iowa, it's important to understand redemption rights. Depending on the terms of the foreclosure, the previous owner may be able to make good on the debt and reclaim the property as late as one year beyond the sale.

Contact an Iowa Real Estate Lawyer

For more legal information regarding your homebuying experience, please contact an Iowa real estate lawyer.

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