New Year, New Home: Tips for Home Buyers

family moving into their new home

While the start of the new year may not be the best time to buy a home, it is a time when many families begin the search process, establish budgets, and consider life changes. However, given the chaos of 2020, you likely have questions about the buying process in 2021–especially if your last year was impacted by COVID-19.

At Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam, we know how challenging real estate transactions can be, which is why we’ve created a list of tips for home buyers as you enter the new year.

1. A listing agent works for the seller–not the buyer.

Many people don’t realize that the listing agent isn’t there for the buyer, but rather the seller, as the agent receives a commission on the home’s sale. However, you can get your own agent or a real estate attorney depending on the type of transaction, to protect your best interests–and your pocketbook.

2. Just because the law doesn’t require a real estate attorney, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider hiring one.

Buying a home involves the signing of a contract as it is likely one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime. When you are tying up a large portion of your assets, it’s a wise idea to seek legal counsel, especially if there are liens on the property, or if you have concerns that a closing agent legally cannot explain to you.

In addition, while property may seem perfect on the surface, should an issue appear in the home inspection, you’ll need to know who is responsible for fixing it, and if you can get out of the deal if it’s beyond repair.

3. If you are buying a home with a partner to whom you are not married, you may need a separate contract for that.

Happily ever after does not mean a wedding has to take place, however, when a married couple buys a home, there are ways the property is distributed under the terms of the marriage. But when an unmarried couple buys a home and things don’t work out, just saying “We’ll figure it out if it happens” will not legally stand.

Having a contract in place that says who stays and who doesn’t, or if the home must go up for sale, will save you time and heartache should your relationship end.

4. Be it a disgruntled neighbor or a misunderstanding, knowing what property would belong to you will save you in the case of disagreements.

Consider this situation: You buy a home from an older couple who are downsizing. For the 30 years they lived in that home though, they allowed the family next door to park their car in front of the house, technically in what should have been the older couple’s spot.

Now, you and your spouse both have a car, and you take turns who parks in the driveway vs. the side of the road. The family next door doesn’t know what to do with their vehicle and begins to ask why you can’t park in your own garage.

This seems like the poor plot-line of a sitcom, but things like this happen. Knowing what you are entitled to when buying a home is critical to avoid such issues.

5. Title issues required the guidance of a professional.

From illegal deeds, unknown liens, and forged documents, title issues can happen no matter how much research you put into buying a home. Unfortunately, they won’t go away without legal action.

Working with a real estate attorney who is well-versed in title issues in Pennsylvania will save you financially and emotionally should something occur.

New Home Owners in NEPA, You Need Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam

If you live in Northeastern Pennsylvania and are in the middle of a real estate transaction, now is the time to get a Scranton real estate lawyer on your side. Put your trust in a law firm that puts your needs first to make the home buying or selling process a breeze. Contact Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam for a free consultation today. Serving clients in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, Monroe, and surrounding counties.

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