House Buying in New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment offers stunning vistas, diverse recreational activities, and great opportunities to buy a home. Before beginning your home search, however, you should be aware of the legal issues involved in any residential real estate transaction. These include disclosures, obtaining clear title, removing liens and encumbrances, and dealing with zoning issues, assessments, taxes and other legal matters. A professional real estate agent can help you find the right home and handle the vast array of rules and paperwork involved in any home transaction.

What a Real Estate Agent Can Do

The benefits of working with a real estate agent are numerous. Some include:

  • Performing an in-depth analysis of the community
  • Matching homes to your needs and goals
  • Determining the proper selling price
  • Seeing what loans you qualify for and what you can afford
  • Knowledge of median home prices and market conditions
  • Preparing a viable offer
  • Negotiating a satisfactory deal

Locating a Real Estate Agent

One way to find a real estate agent is to locate the major brokers in your area or ask for recommendations regarding independent agencies from friends or relatives. Find out how many property listings are allocated to the agents. Look for a fulltime agent who has a diverse marketing plan and a track record of success.

Get The Proper Disclosures

State law requires that sellers disclose certain information to buyers. Although it's not required, most sellers use the New Mexico Residential Real Estate Disclosure Statement. The statement details known property defects, although the agent isn't required to verify them. Some disclosures included in the form are:

  • Encroachments, easements and restrictive covenants
  • Sewer septic system
  • Water issues
  • Soil and drainage
  • Appliances, heating, plumbing and electrical systems
  • Systems and fixtures
  • Structural condition
  • Environmental hazards
  • Known defects
  • Lead-based paint for homes built before 1978

Purchase Agreements

A purchase agreement is a binding, enforceable document to buy and sell a home. It contains the material terms and conditions of your real estate transaction. Purchasing agreements in New Mexico must include:

  • Purchase price
  • Names and addresses of the parties
  • Date and place of closing
  • Duration of the offer
  • Condition of the property
  • Contingencies
  • Fixtures and personal property
  • Financing and terms

Home Inspections

Before closing on your home, you must arrange for an independent home inspection, performed by a certified home inspector. An inspection ensures that no material defects exist and that the building meets building safety codes. An inspection is not a code inspection or an appraisal, but failure to have one done could leave you with no legal remedy against the seller if you discover problems later. An inspection should look for:

  • Termites and other pests
  • Existence of radon
  • Moisture intrusion
  • Electrical connection issues
  • Gas leaks
  • Foundation and structural integrity
  • Heating and cooling system, electrical, plumbing, walls, drainage, basement and flooring

Selecting a Qualified Home Inspector

New Mexico has no state licensing or educational requirements for residential home inspectors, so you'll need to do some homework to find someone who is certified. You can find licensed inspectors through the American Home Inspectors Directory or the National Association of Home Inspectors.

Issues Regarding Legal Title

Title searches are conducted by title companies or attorneys who look for proof that any encumbrances against the property are satisfied. They also look for the presence of easements, rights-of-way, tax liens, or covenants, conditions and restrictions that could affect title to the property. Title insurance is required by all banks and lenders to guarantee that sellers are transferring good title, and to protect them against losses from defective titles that were unknown at the time of sale.

Getting Legal Help

Residential real estate laws in New Mexico can be complicated; for specific legal counsel, please contact a New Mexico real estate lawyer.

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