There are few purchases in life more exciting and momentous than buying a home, and few as overwhelming and full of tedious tasks that could have big legal impacts if not tended to properly. While it is smart for all buyers to follow certain general guidelines, there are state-specific issues you should be aware of before buying a home in Montana. The more you know, the easier it will be to relax and enjoy the milestone of becoming a homeowner.
Your Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent can work on either side of a transaction, for the buyer, the seller, or in some cases for both. It's generally best for buyers to have their own agents, however. Your agent sees you through the entire transaction and negotiates on your behalf to secure your best interests. If you're looking for a real estate agent, a good place to start is with a professional organization such as the Montana Association of REALTORS®.
Property Disclosure Rules
Sellers are required by law to disclose certain known defects so that buyers can make informed decisions about whether to purchase a property. These include structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sewer systems, termite and other pest infestations, and more. Real estate agents can access forms for this discloser through the Montana Association of REALTORS®.
Your Purchasing Agreement
The purchasing agreement is a written contract between the buyer and the seller that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale, including details about the property, its cost, and the rights and obligations of the parties involved. It should allow for an inspection, the results of which can potentially affect the transaction.
Getting a Home Inspection
It is a mistake to assume all of a property's defects were communicated in the seller's disclosure. There may be defects about which the seller is unaware, or seemingly minor problems that are on the brink of becoming serious. A licensed inspector is trained to look for such issues. If any defects are found, the next step is to negotiate how to address them.
Legal Title Search and Issues
Before a title can change hands, a title company or real estate lawyer must conduct a search of public records to ensure there's nothing attached to the title that might impede the transfer. Title searches frequently turn up things such as liens or easement issues. You purchase title insurance to protect against potential losses you might incur if an issue was overlooked in the title search.
Foreclosure Property Considerations
Some states offer a right-of-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. Montana, however, does not.
Leverage a Montana Real Estate Attorney
For more legal advice regarding your pending transaction, you should contact a Montana real estate lawyer.