Home Buyer's Guide for Washington Residents

Real estate transactions can seem overwhelming in detail, and even small oversights can have big legal impacts. And each state has its own rules. Knowing what to expect in yours can help ease your anxieties so you can enjoy this milestone. If you are shopping for residential real estate in Washington, keep these things in mind.

Should I Work With a Real Estate Agent?

It’s tempting to think of a real estate agent as just a salesperson. But a buyer’s agent does more than just show you around properties and collect a commission. He or she represents your best interests through the entire transaction, staying on top of process steps and negotiating on your behalf. To find a buyer’s agent, a great place to start is with a professional organization such as Washington REALTORS.

What Defects Must a Seller Disclose?

The law mandates that sellers must disclose certain known defects a property may have. This protects buyers and helps them make informed choices. Required residential real estate disclosures in Washington State include issues related to the:

  • Title
  • Water and sewer/septic systems
  • Electrical/gas
  • Flooding, soil and environmental concerns
  • Homeowner’s association and common interests

What is a Purchasing Agreement?

Of all the paperwork compiled during a real estate transaction, the purchasing agreement is among the most important documents. It is a legally binding contract that outlines all of the terms of the sale, including property details, price, information about all parties involved and more. It should also include a provision for the buyer to have the property inspected before closing.

Should I Get a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is your opportunity to have a licensed professional do a walk-through appraisal for any defects that may have been overlooked by the seller. If any are found, you may be able to negotiate having them addressed either before or after closing.

Why Do I Need a Title Search?

Sometimes liens or other issues can prevent a title from legally transferring from one party to another. Your attorney or title company will conduct a search of public records to ensure the title to the property you are buying is clear.

What About Buying Foreclosure Property?

Foreclosure sales in Washington are done by auction. But first, notice must be given to the previous owner 90 days in advance to give him or her a chance to make good on the debt. For court foreclosures, the previous owner has up to a year after the sale to redeem the property. If the foreclosure is handled out of court, there is no right to a redemption period.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

When it comes to residential real estate transactions, there are state-specific laws and guidelines of which buyers should be aware. Get in touch with a Washington residential real estate attorney to make the most of this major purchase.

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