The devil is in the details, as the saying goes, and this is especially true when you're buying a home. Getting the details right can mean the difference between years of enjoyment or frustration. Here are some you'll need to consider when buying a home in North Dakota.
Your Real Estate Agent is Your Advocate
Real estate agents don't just find a house that meets your needs. They also help you get all the details squared away. Your agent can help you negotiate the best contract terms and even recommend an inspector. You can find a real estate agent by asking people you know for recommendations. The National Association of REALTORS also offers a searchable database on its website.
Sellers must disclose any known problems with the house or property, even if it negatively affects value or desirability. Although North Dakota does not provide an official form, this disclosure should be in writing. Examples of issues that should be included in a disclosure include:
- Roof problems
- Flooding problems
- Water damage
- Damaged foundation
- Heating or air conditioning issues
Submit Your Purchase Agreement
A purchase agreement is a legal document that sets out the conditions of the sale. At a minimum, it includes:
Description of the property
Condition of the property
Dates for closing and possession
You should make sure you include language that details the conditions under which you can back out of the deal. You might also want to make the offer contingent on the findings from your inspection. This will allow you to renegotiate the price or even back out of the deal if problems are found.
Have a Professional Inspection
The seller's disclosure only includes known defects. To protect yourself fully, you should ensure that there are no additional problems. An inspection by a reputable inspector can help you feel confident in the integrity of things such as:
Major structural components
Electrical and plumbing systems
North Dakota requires that inspectors register with the state. Part of the registration requirement is certification by a major home inspector organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors. These organizations provide searchable databases on their websites to help you find an inspector near you.
Check for Clear Title
A title search inspects public records for any potential problems or defects with the property's title. Two common problems are:
Liens: A lien is a legal claim against the property, placed by a business or person to whom the seller owes money. All liens must be settled before title to the property can be legally transferred.
Easements: An easement is a legal right to use the property, such as a right of way.
Sometimes title defects only come to light after closing. Title insurance can protect you against these issues.
Help From a Real Estate Lawyer
As state-specific laws are often confusing, you should seek legal advice from a real estate lawyer.