Buying or selling real estate

Using legal documents, you can buy or sell your home or other real estate.
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Prepare to buy or sell real estate FAQs

Buying and selling property can be challenging, the more you know the better chances you'll have in making profitable real estate decisions. Buying a home or commercial property is likely the highest priced item you will ever purchase, so a bit of research will almost always help you in the long run.

Should I sell my home before buying a new home?

Unfortunately, there is not a definitive answer to that question. It may depend on the market; however, even if the market is in your favor you may face challenges. Unless you have the luxury of being able to pay two mortgages, you'll want to carefully consider what your best option may be. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Can I afford to pay two mortgages?
  • Could I easily rent the second property if need to?
  • What would I do if I was temporarily without a home?
  • What if I can't get my asking price on my home?
  • Are I disciplined enough to manage the equity balance until I buy?

Do I need a lawyer to buy or sell property?

Many would answer yes to that question. Some states and regions may even require that a lawyer help with closing. While you may not always need a lawyer for simple real estate transactions, you may benefit from hiring an attorney to help you with more complicated sales. Examples of types of sales that you may need a lawyer for include buying property in other states, bank sales, buying commercial property, buying from an estate sale or buying damaged property. If the real estate transaction is not complicated, and your state does not require you to hire a lawyer, your agent should be able to guide your through the process.

Should I offer my renter a lease to own option?

If your property is located in an area that is difficult to sell in, and your renters have expressed interest in a renting to own, it may not be a bad option for you. Offering them this option will still allow you to collect regular rents until when/if they choose to use their option. If you have no interest in selling the property in the next couple of years then there may be no advantage to offering a Lease to Own Agreement.

Lease to Own Agreement advantages for sellers:

  • Maintain monthly rental income
  • You can keep the option fee even if they choose not to buy
  • In most agreements, premiums also do not need to be refunded
  • You can lock in the purchase price
  • Leaseholder may be more incentivized to maintain the property

What should I know about buying a foreclosed property?

Buying foreclosed homes is an attractive option for investors since it gives you the chance to potentially purchase property at a below-market rate; however, it can be risky. You may have to bid on property you don't get to inspect. In some cases, you may need cash to purchase if you cannot get a conventional loan on the property.

If you plan on purchasing foreclosed properties, you should do plenty of research on how to increase odds in your favor. You should consider researching the following areas:

  • How best you can obtain financing
  • The going market values in the area you intend to buy in
  • The best inspectors and repair persons in your area
  • How to research property histories

Can I perform a title search myself?

Performing a title search yourself may save you money; however, it is not always worth it. If you are a patient and through researcher, then researching lower priced properties on your own likely carries minimal risk. If you make a mistake in researching the title you may find that the property you purchased has a loan or lien attached to it. You can start by contacting your local court, recorder's office or county assessor to find out how to request the title information yourself. In some counties you may be able to request an "Abstract Title" online for a few hundred dollars, whereas title insurance may cost you $1000 or so. On more expensive properties it may be worthwhile to pay the additional amount for the protections title insurance offers.