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Buying Residential Real Estate in Vermont

When you are thinking about buying a home in Vermont, don't let your excitement blind you to the practical issues you may encounter. By understanding the basic home-buying process before you begin, you can make the experience easier.

Consider Working With a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents understand state-specific real estate laws, know the neighborhoods, and can help smooth out most bumps you might encounter as you look for your perfect home. Your real estate agent will also keep your best interests in mind. You can find one through recommendations from friends or family, or by talking with a few at open houses. Organizations like the National Association of REALTORS® can also put you in contact with member agents.

Property Disclosure Requirements

Sellers must inform potential buyers of any known problems with the home. Vermont does not have an official disclosure form, but the Vermont Association of REALTORS® has developed a form that covers the required information, including:

  • Mechanical systems operation
  • Structural defects
  • Condition of appliances
  • Water supply
  • Basement leakage

Federal law also requires sellers to inform buyers of the presence of lead-based paint in homes built before the end of 1977.

Purchase Agreement

After finding the house you want, you will submit an offer, also called a purchase agreement. This legal document outlines the conditions of the sale, including:

  • Price
  • Financing details
  • Down payment
  • Inspections to be performed
  • Closing and possession dates
  • Terms of cancelation
  • Any repairs you will require in order to complete the purchase

Getting Your Own Inspection Protects Your Interests

Although sellers must disclose any problems they know about, they are not required to go looking for other problems. This is where an inspection can protect you. A qualified inspector can make sure components like the foundation, electrical and plumbing systems, and flooring are sound.

Vermont does not license or certify home inspectors, but many national organizations do. Organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors and the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors offer certification and searchable databases on their websites so you can find a reputable inspector. The listings indicate whether the inspector has completed the organization's certification process.

Title Search and Insurance

Sometimes the seller may not have the legal right to transfer title to you, or there may be other claims to the property that can affect your use of it. A title search, which inspects all public records related to the title, often uncovers hidden problems.

Two common legal title issues are:

  • Easements: The legal right of another person or business to use a specific part of your property for a specific purpose. An example would be a right of way from the road to a landlocked neighbor's property.

  • Liens: Legal claims to the property due to debts owed by the owner. Liens must be paid before the title can be transferred.

Title insurance can protect you in case a problem comes up later, after closing.

This Article Is Not Legal Advice

The information in this article provides only a basic overview of real estate law in Vermont. To get information specific to your unique situation, please contact a real estate attorney.

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