The site of Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills makes South Dakota an awe-inspiring state in which to live or raise a family. Before beginning your search for a South Dakota house, be aware of the legal issues involved in a residential real estate transaction, such as disclosures, obtaining clear title, removing liens and encumbrances, and dealing with zoning issues, assessments, taxes and other legal matters.
Also, take advantage of the valuable resources offered by a professional real estate agent in helping you find the right home as well as handling the seemingly never-ending rules and paperwork involved in any home transaction.
The Value of a Real Estate Agent
Working with a real estate agent offers homebuyers many benefits, including:
- Performing an in-depth analysis of the community
- Matching homes to your needs and goals
- Warning against unsound deals
- Researching which loans you qualify for and what you can afford
- Knowing the median home prices and market conditions in your area
- Preparing a viable offer
- Negotiating a satisfactory transaction
Finding the Best Real Estate Agent
One way to find a real estate agent for your desired area is to contact the major companies in your area or get recommendations on independent agencies from friends or relatives. See how many property listings are allocated to those agents. Find a full-time agent who has a flexible marketing plan and a track record of success.
Disclosures are Required
South Dakota law requires sellers to disclose certain things to you. Sellers are required deliver to buyers a completed Seller's Property Condition Disclosure Statement prior to a written offer, which may include:
- Encroachments, easements, and restrictive covenants
- Structural integrity
- Water issues
- Soil and drainage
- Environmental risks
- Hazardous or defective conditions
- Earthquake fault zones, flood hazard or wildland fire areas
- Appliances, heating, plumbing, and electrical systems
- Systems and fixtures
- Lead-based paint for homes built before 1978
The Purchasing Agreement
A purchase agreement is a binding enforceable document to buy and sell a home that contains the material terms and conditions of your real estate transaction. Purchasing agreements in South Dakota must include:
- Purchase price
- Final agency acknowledgment
- Names and addresses of the parties
- Date and place of closing
- Duration of the offer
- Condition of the property
- Property limitations
- Financing and terms
Before closing on your home, you must have an independent home inspection performed by a registered or licensed home inspector to be sure no material defects exist and to ensure that the building meets building safety codes. An inspection is not a code inspection or an appraisal, however. A failure to inspect could leave you with no legal remedy against the seller.
An inspection should be conducted to look for:
- Termites and other pests
- Existence of Radon
- Exterior including driveway, decks, doors, and walls
- Gas leaks
- Foundation and structural integrity
- Heating and cooling systems, electrical, plumbing, walls, drainage, basement, and flooring
Hire a Licensed or Registered Home Inspector
South Dakota requires home inspectors to be licensed. Requirements include 40 hours of course work, completion as a registered home inspector of 100 home inspections for compensation, and successful completion of an examination by the Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. You can find licensed inspectors through the American Home Inspectors Directory or Inspector Database.
Obtaining Valid Legal Title
Title searches are conducted by title companies or attorneys who search for proof that encumbrances are satisfied and for the presence of easements, rights-of-way, tax liens, and any CC&Rs, or covenants, conditions, and restrictions that could affect title to the property.
Title insurance is required by all banks and lenders to guarantee to buyers that the seller is giving them good title and to protect them against any losses from defective titles that were unknown at the time of sale. It ensures there are not other claims against the property such as liens, building restrictions, or other encumbrances.