When most people go searching for a new home, it is the cost of the house and its physical suitability that tends to be at the top of their priorities. However, without proper consideration of the potential legal issues, home buyers can find themselves saddled with serious legal and financial issues long after the real estate transaction is over. Here are five legal issues that you should consider before you buy real estate:

  1. Are there any title defects?
    • Title defects are a broad term describing legal issues that impair the complete ownership of a property. Common title defects include things like unpaid mortgages or liens, unpaid property taxes, undisclosed easements or covenants, and errors in public records or survey data. If you do not clear up these defects before closing, it could lead to substantial legal problems later on.
  2. Will you be able to get pre-approval on financing?
    • It is common for most sellers to require buyers to get pre-approval on financing before they can buy real estate. This means effectively going to a mortgage lender and asking if they are willing to give you a mortgage for the property you are looking to buy. If you are unable to get pre-approved for a mortgage, it can be very difficult to buy real estate.
  3. Is the property zoned for what you need?
    • Zoning ordinances are some of the most frustrating laws that people must regularly deal with in real estate, imposing limits on how property can be developed and used. It doesn’t matter how suitable a property is physically for your purposes, you won’t be able to get the permits you need if it goes against the zoning for the area. If you violate local zoning regulations, it could lead to legal troubles, fines, and a lot of wasted effort for a project that might go nowhere.
  4. Are there any easements or covenants to be aware of?
    • Easements and covenants are both types of non-possessory property interests that impact how you can use your own property. The seller is supposed to disclose any easements or covenants affecting the land before you buy, but there is still the risk that something might arise unexpectedly. Performing a title search is a good way of identifying these issues so you can address them before you buy the property.
  5. Is the property up to code?
    • When you buy real estate, a simple look over the property is not good enough. Many buildings, particularly older buildings, may not be up to current building codes, meaning that any renovations you want to do could come with a lot of extra work in order to ensure your building is up to code. That is why you should make sure to perform inspections before you buy, to save yourself the cost and risk of a building that is in need of major renovations.

At David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC, we assist clients throughout New York who are looking to buy or sell real estate. We will guide you through the process and help you minimize your legal and financial risks. Call us at (631) 750-0900 or contact us online to schedule your Free consultation at our Setauket office. 

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