After a few discouraging years, buying a house is affordable again, thanks to an ample supply of homes and historically low interest rates. And if you protect your investment with purchase agreements, inspections, disclosures and more, your home will stay affordable and comfortable for years. Michigan law requires certain things of buyers and sellers. Before you begin to search for a house, get familiar with the process.

How an Agent Can Help

Though some people can fly solo on home purchases, most prefer an agent to co-pilot. A professional can help in a number of ways, from paperwork to financing to negotiations. Ask friends for referrals and interview brokers. You can search online for licensing information at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

The seller's disclosure alerts the buyer to any damages or problems. In Michigan, sellers must assess the roof, water and electrical systems, and environmental hazards. The disclosure form must be completed before a purchase agreement is signed.

Purchase Agreements

Once you're ready to commit, formalize details such as "earnest money" deposits and closing information in a purchase agreement. This contract, which under Michigan law must be in writing, outlines everyone's obligations.

Inspections

Buyers can ask for a home inspection that examines issues such as structural soundness, electrical and mechanical systems, and more. The results reveal any red flags about the property. The American Society of Home Inspectors can give you tips on hiring someone.

Is Title Insurance Necessary?

A title search investigates whether the seller owns the property and is free to sell it. While you could do the search yourself, the process is tricky. Most people prefer to use a lawyer or title company. Lenders will require title insurance, but the policy covers only them. To make sure you're protected, purchase coverage for the amount of your loan.

Foreclosures and Short Sales

Buyers often find bargains in homes facing foreclosure or whose owners are in financial trouble. Foreclosure properties are sold to the highest bidders at public auctions. The property is sold “as is,” without a warranty. If the property is sold for less than two-thirds of its value and is less than three acres, the original owner has six months to redeem it by paying the amount for which it was sold plus interest. For larger lots, the redemption period is a year.

Under a short sale, the owner sells the home for less than what is owed on the loan. Buyers should look out for possible hidden costs in short sales, such as back taxes.

Consult a Residential Real Estate Lawyer

For detailed information regarding residential real estate laws, please contact a real estate lawyer in Michigan.

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