REAL estate attorneys can make the process of buying a home much smoother than attempting to handle it alone.
After identifying a property and deciding on a budget for the house, the next major step — according to industry experts — should be to get an experienced real estate attorney.
Many persons believe that they can handle the legal process by themselves, or simply with the guidance of a real estate agent.
However, this notion has been categorised by real estate attorneys as"very risky".
According to attorney-at-law, Delroy Chuck, the practice can prove very costly in the event of problems with the transaction.
To make the dream of homeownership less stressing, Chuck proposed four easy steps to Wealth Magazine's Home Sweet Home.
First, get an attorney. The job of the lawyer is to guide the vendor or purchaser on all matters relating to the process.
Since the average individual may not understand legal terms and conditions, an attorney will explain these terms so the client is provided with all the necessary information to make informed decisions.
It is essential that a firm agreement on attorney's fees be established, Chuck said, before any other aspect of the transaction is undertaken.
Attorney's fees can range between one and five per cent of the property value he said, noting that this is payable at the end of the sale or purchase of the property.
"Once you have identified an attorney and settled on the fees, you should advise the other party's attorney of your legal representation," he said.
This creates ease in the flow of information and speeds up the process since attorneys are equipped with knowledge of the policies and procedures to be followed.
By Chuck's reckoning, this is a key element of the reason individuals should not seek to establish a deal without an attorney.
"This is an investment, and like all investments, care must be taken to ensure that procedures are followed," he said.
He stressed that it is not uncommon for persons to be of the view that they are making an agreement on a particular property, only to find out at the end of the deal that, they in fact, got another.
Your second step, Chuck advised, is to decide on the type of ownership agreement. He explained these to be joint tenancy, tenants-in-common and single ownership.
"Joint tenancy, typically works well for families and tenants-in-common for businesses," he said.
For joint tenancy, two or more persons share ownership "inseparably". Dividing the asset upon the demise of an owner is therefore often seamless, he said.
The percentage of ownership is decided by tenants-in-common and varies depending on the stipulations they wish to set.
"Your next step is to pay your deposit," Chuck advised, cautioning against paying this to the real estate agent or vendor.
"This is another of the key reasons that real estate administration should take place with the guidance of an attorney," Chuck cautioned.
"We must beware of unscrupulous individuals posing as agents," he said noting that in the event that the deal falls through, getting back your money from an agent or vendor can be very difficult.
Another key point to note is that verbal agreements regarding real estate are not considered binding in a court of law. "Nothing in real estate is binding until it is put in writing," Chuck said.
Having decided on the terms of the agreement, you should then ensure that the necessary documents are received and processed by your attorney.
"The last water bill, certificate of taxes, quantity and valuation reports and, in the case of strata's, the certificate of maintenance, must be presented to the attorney," he said.
Chuck advised that these documents should be presented to the mortgage company or the National Housing Trust (NHT) if this option is being used.
"As the purchaser, you need only deal with you attorney," Chuck cautioned. "Your attorney takes over once the loan is approved and deals with the completion of the transaction."