Home Buying in Rhode Island

The purchase of a home is not just a major investment, but a major life event. You want to make sure to tend to all the details properly, as they can have big legal impacts. While some guidelines apply across the board, there are state-specific ones to keep in mind, too. If you're shopping for a home in Rhode Island, here are just some of the things you should know.

Your Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents can represent clients on either side of a transaction, or sometimes both, though buyers generally fare better when they have their own agents. A seller's agent is contractually bound to protect the seller's best interests. Your real estate agent is more than just a salesperson. He or she sees you through the whole transaction and negotiates on your behalf. A good place to start to find a real estate agent is with a professional organization such as the Rhode Island Association of REALTORS®.

About Property Disclosure

Property disclosure laws mandate that sellers make prospective buyers aware of certain known defects of a property. In Rhode Island, sellers must disclose information about items such as:

  • Occupancy
  • The year the home was built
  • Basement, roof, fireplace, chimney and structural conditions
  • Electrical, heating, air conditioning, plumbing and sewerage systems
  • The presence of radon
  • Termites or other pests

Purchase and Sales Agreement

Once an offer is made and price negotiated, the terms of the sale are outlined in a legally binding contract called the purchase and sales agreement. This document includes details about the property, price, timeline for closing, information about parties involved, and more. It also allows the buyer to have the property inspected prior to closing.

Getting a Home Inspection

Even though the seller is required to disclose known defects, frequently there are issues that are unknown or overlooked. This is why it is so important to have a licensed home inspector do a walk-through appraisal. If any problems are found, you may be able to negotiate solutions to them.

Legal Title Search and Issues

Sometimes there may be liens or other issues attached to a title that prevent it from transferring from one party to another. Your attorney or title company will research public records to ensure the title is clear. Title insurance protects you against any losses you could incur later on due to oversights in this search.

Purchasing Foreclosure Property

In Rhode Island, foreclosure properties are auctioned to the highest bidder. But first, notice must be sent to the prior owner's last known address and posted publicly to give that person one last chance to make good on the debt and redeem the property. Once the sale is made, there is no redemption period.


Like all states, Rhode Island has its own set of laws and guidelines for home buyers. Residential real estate laws in Rhode Island are complicated, and each transaction is unique. For more detailed legal advice, please contact a local real estate lawyer.

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