We really enjoy receiving calls from excited home buyers and relieved home sellers, and we understand that, whether buying or selling, this process can be very stressful. Here are a few things we at Kilcommons Law do to make your real estate transaction proceed smoothly:
- Checking contact information. As soon as the contract is received and we have made contact with you, we confirm the phone, fax and email contacts for all parties. A telephone call is still our preferred method to confirm these details – it is personal, and avoids a miss-directed attorney review letter.
- Tracking Sheet. We create a one sheet guide that goes in the front of every file. This sheet lists all the deadlines for performance under the contract (including closing date, any house-to-sell contingency date, deposit due dates, home inspection report submission and response dates, and the mortgage commitment due date), and is readily available for easy review by Kevin or Sue.
- Deadlines letter to client. Once the attorney review phase is completed, we confirm all the dates for performance under the contract, and these dates not only go on the office calendar, but also into a letter to you with a copy to your realtor. This tool allows us all to work together and ensure deadlines are met.
- Well, septic and cesspool. Rural properties quite often have private water and septic, and a few even have cesspools. In attorney review, we add language to ensure that septic repairs or replacement are performed not only to local code, but also to address the County and New Jersey Highlands Commission requirements. Understand that the primary responsibility for replacing or repairing a septic system is that of the Seller, but often it is the Buyer who discovers the problem during inspections.
- USTs. Underground oil storage tanks (“UST’s”) were still being installed into the 1960’s and 1970’s, and we run across properties where these UST’s are still in use, or no longer used but never removed or remediated. During Attorney Review, we ensure that you are protected if the Seller cannot, has not or will not address removal or remediation together with all required testing and permitting. Sometimes, older properties have abandoned cisterns or dry wells that must be remediated, as well.
- Permits. One of the most difficult things to determine in a transaction is whether or not the Seller obtained permits for work on the property. We always require the Sellers to certify to this issue and to provide proof of repairs requiring permits and approvals. (Further, Sellers will be required by their realtor to fill-out and sign a Sellers Disclosure Statement and provide a copy to you.) While Buyers may believe that having permits and approvals accounted for upon their purchase is not important, they find when they go to sell the property that their Buyers will require all permit issues to be resolved – whether or not they pre-dated the Seller’s ownership. Therefore, Buyers should be proactive on this issue. We also caution our clients to make sure that after closing, they consult their municipality about whether or not permits are needed for any repairs, alterations or additions they wish to make, and before they commence the work. Additionally, we strongly advise that you maintain copies of all permit documentation for disclosure to the next Buyers.
- Due diligence. Remember always, “Buyers Beware!” We strongly encourage Buyers to make sure they study community-wide aspects of the property before signing a contract. We suggest that you check the local municipality for pending developments, proposed utility easements (i.e. gas pipelines), Megan’s Law (sex offender) registrants, or local environmental concerns. The municipal offices are a great place to start this inquiry, and may provide information on approved or pending permits for home repairs the Seller (or previous owners) may have made. Provide to your home inspector copies of the Seller’s permit documents, or documents you obtained from the municipal inspector. Clients are also encouraged to thoroughly research the schools, houses of worship, playgrounds, and libraries.
- Client contact. We communicate with you as soon as reasonably possible about developments in your transaction. For example, we try never to leave you hanging about the status of attorney review over a weekend. This is especially important for first time Buyers, who will find the wait to be especially nerve wracking.
- Final questions to Sellers. For our Buyers, we encourage you to talk with the Sellers at the conclusion of closing, if not before, and ask any questions about the home and community. For instance, you might want to know about the home’s history, or ask about a quirky appliance. You may also request contact information from the Sellers in the event other post-closing questions about the home arise.
Although these steps do not a guarantee a stress-free transaction, they will certainly take the edge off your nerves as you prepare for this very significant financial and life-affecting step.
Here’s to a smooth transaction!
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© Kilcommons Law, P.C. 2015