A home is the largest purchase most Americans will ever make. If you are one of the
millions of Americans about to buy or sell a home, it’s important to understand the ramifications of the decisions you will make. For example, state and federal law, the economy, your personal preferences, your financial situation, the prevailing real estate market, current mortgage rates, and tax considerations, are among the many factors that affect you as either a buyer or seller. You will also need to work with a variety of people–attorneys, lenders, home inspectors, appraisers, and insurance agents, to name a few. In short, buying and selling a home is not the simple matter it might appear.
Whether you are buying your first home or selling your tenth, you will want to make sure
that you understand how the law affects your decisions. This chapter begins with questions related to buying and selling a home. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the legal aspects of both the buying and selling side of the process. This is particularly true if it has been a while since you bought or sold a home.
Practices and laws change. You will want to be aware of how these changes affect your
responsibilities as buyer or seller, as the case may be.
Remember, someone must be willing to buy a home before you can sell it, and vice versa.
The sale will involve negotiation and will have legal consequences. Like any other contract
negotiation, it’s a good idea to understand the goals of both parties in the transaction.
Elements of Real Estate
An ownership interest in real estate is illustrated by the following examples:
· the land and everything under it, including minerals and water;
· anything of value on the land such as crops or timber;
· the airspace over the land;
· improvements on the land such as buildings, for example a garage, barn, or fence.
Ownership of these elements may be separate or shared and may also be subject to legal
claims or liens. (A lien is a claim against property representing an unpaid debt of the owner or an unpaid judgment entered against the owner by a court of law.)
Here’s an example of how several different persons can have a legally recognized interest
in the same real estate. A farmer might lease land owned by a school district. While the district owns the land, the farmer owns the crops he or she plants on the land. The district also might have sold mineral rights to the land to yet another person.