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When You Purchase a House in Maine

Buying a house is a special occasion. Locating and purchasing one, though, means you must be aware of the legal issues involved in a residential real estate transaction, such as disclosures, title defects, encumbrances, zoning issues, assessments, taxes and other legal matters.

Before you start looking for a home in Maine, contact a real estate agent who can help you find the right home for you and who can guide you through all the complex steps you must follow.

How to Find a Real Estate Agent

One way to find a real estate agent for your area is to go to the web site for The National Association of Realtors or the local Chamber of Commerce. Other business professionals are a key source for names of reputable agents as well. Find a full-time agent who has a diverse marketing plan and a track record of success.

Property Disclosure Requirements

Maine law requires the seller to present to you a Residential Real Estate Disclosure form detailing known defects, though the agent is not required to verify them. The disclosures embodied in the form include some of the following:

  • Water supply system
  • Type and location of insulation
  • Heating system
  • Waste disposal system
  • Foundation and structural integrity
  • Presence of hazardous materials including asbestos, lead-based paint for pre-1978 homes and radon gas

Purchasing Agreements

A purchase agreement is a legally enforceable document that contains the material terms and conditions of your real estate transaction.

Purchasing agreements in Maine must include the following:

  • Purchase price
  • Names and addresses of the parties
  • Dates for closing and possession
  • Duration of the offer
  • Condition of the property
  • Description of the property
  • Items included or not included in the sale
  • Financing and terms

Get a Home Inspection

Before closing on your home, you need to have an independent home inspection performed by a competent inspector to be sure no material defects exist and to ensure that the building meets building safety codes. A failure to inspect could leave you with no legal remedy against the seller.

An inspection should be conducted to look for the following issues:

  • Termites and other pests
  • Exterior grounds, drainage and utility feeds
  • Existence of radon and other hazardous materials
  • Presence of conditions that could lead to mold
  • Foundation and structural integrity
  • Heating and cooling system, electrical, plumbing, walls, drainage, basement and flooring

Finding an Inspector

Maine has no educational or state licensing requirements for residential home inspectors, so you need to do your due diligence in finding one. You can find professional inspectors through the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.

Issues of Legal Title

Title searches are conducted by title companies or attorneys who look for proof that encumbrances are satisfied and the presence of easements, rights-of-way, tax liens, and any CC&Rs, or covenants, conditions and restrictions that could affect title to the property.

Title insurance is required by all lenders to ensure against any losses from defective titles and protect against fraud and other defective documentation that could affect the title.

Consult a Maine Real Estate Lawyer

As state-specific real estate laws are complicated, and each transaction has unique issues, you should consult a Maine real estate lawyer.

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