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Buying a Home

So, you want to buy a home. Great news!

Maybe you have found a home that is big enough for your growing family or decided that it is time to downsize into a condominium. No matter the circumstance, the one certainty is that you need an attorney to help you through the process. Having an attorney let you know what to expect is part of your preparation and creates less worry.

There is a lot to do before buying your new home.  Buyers usually hire an attorney after they have signed the contract for sale.  An attorney will determine whether changes need to be made to the contract.  If an attorney for the buyer or the seller does not request changes within three days from the last signature on the deal, the agreement will likely become final, and the opportunity for attorney review is missed.

You may choose to hire a licensed New Jersey inspector to perform inspections of the home and provide reports. The house should be inspected for structural, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, radon, insects, and any other concerns. Sometimes an oil tank sweep or lead paint testing is performed. As you accompany your inspector walking through your potential future home, the inspector might tell you the positive features and the negative parts of the house. Expect a lengthy written report that will contain suggestions for continued maintenance and appropriate upgrades. Minor issues are to be expected. However, you should generally look for a sturdy roof, a structurally sound home, and all major systems in working order. You can demand repairs and credits from the seller based on the report.

Other considerations:

  • Do you have to pay a deposit ? If so, send a check in the right amount to the designated attorney.
  • Work with your lender to move the loan processing along, including the appraisal. Typically, your lender will wish to contact your title company, so consider which title company you want to hire.
  • Order a survey, title search, and flood certification from your title company.
  • Acquire a homeowner’s insurance policy that will start the day of closing with prepayment for the year.
  • Open accounts for gas, electric, telephone, cable, and water to start the day of closing.
  • Start packing and plan for your move-in day.
  • Prepare for your final walk-through: This is your opportunity to walk through the home within 48 hours of closing.

If your title company is acting as your settlement agent, your title company will provide you with a closing disclosure statement that will let you know the amount of your “cash to close.” You must acquire a cashier’s check in the “cash to close” amount and bring it with you to closing. Additionally, bring personal identification with you on the day of your closing.

Closing usually occurs at the buyer’s attorney’s office. You will be advised of a day and time to appear. The settlement agent (from the title company) will have your mortgage documents, and the seller or seller’s attorney will provide the deed and accompanying affidavits.

The settlement agent will send the new deed to the county to be recorded, release the sale proceeds to the seller, and the home will then officially belong to you. Congratulations.

Does all of this sound overwhelming? It is. That’s why you need an attorney, someone who has been through this many times. Don’t try to do it alone. Bring an experienced lawyer into the process as early as possible.

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