Buying a house is a really exciting time in your life, but it can also be a bit frustrating too. So, understanding the process before you start can help make buying your home a little bit easier.
Real estate agents do a lot more for you than just find a home with the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms for your needs. They can also advise you on things such as neighborhoods and school districts. When you're looking for an agent in Arizona, ask for recommendations from friends or family, or contact organizations like the National Association of REALTORS or the National Association of Independent Real Estate Brokers.
There are many benefits to using a real estate agent, for example:
Your real estate agent should be able to help you every step of the way, from drafting a written offer and negotiating with the seller on price and other terms, to coordinating the escrow process and the closing. Your real estate agent can also help you locate other knowledgeable professionals who can assist you in the home buying process, including mortgage brokers and home inspectors.
Here's the good news - working with a professional real estate agent won't cost you any money. The seller usually pays the entire commission which is generally 5% to 6% of the house sale price, split between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent.
You should be sure to choose a real estate agent that has experience representing buyers, has good references and has the qualifications to meet your home buying needs in terms of your ideal location, type of property and your budget.
Your real estate agent should also help you locate other professionals to assist you in the home purchase process, including mortgage brokers and home inspectors.
State law in Arizona requires sellers to disclose a number of specific disclosures regarding the condition of the property, containing all of the information set forth in the Arizona Real Estate Commissions disclosure form. This is important for you as a buyer, since just looking at a property may not be enough to tell you what problems its owner encountered with it while living there.
The form requires the seller to list various features and equipment contained in the home and to state whether any known defects exist in areas such as:
Sellers of property near an open range or gaming enterprise district may have additional disclosure requirements. Federal law requires disclosure of lead-based paint in houses built in 1977 or earlier.
Buyers should not rely solely on the seller's disclosure, however, but should hire an independent home inspector to verify the information from the seller's disclosure. Many buyers make their offer contingent upon a satisfactory inspection report.
A real estate contract must be in writing and signed by the parties (buyers and sellers) to the contract. It must contain an offer to sell or purchase, an acceptance of the offer, the sale price, closing date, which fixtures are to be excluded from the sale, date you will take possession, date offer expires and an adequate description of the property. There are also optional provisions you may want to include, such as agreeing to voluntary mediation of any disputes that arise, and terms for a pest control inspection.
After you own the house, any problems you find are all yours. However, you can protect yourself by arranging for an inspection before closing. An inspection can identify problems with major structural items, as well as systems such as electrical and plumbing. Arizona requires that home inspectors meet certain education and exam requirements and that they receive certification from the Real Estate Division of the state's Department of Business and Industry. Your real estate agent can help you find a reputable and certified inspector.
Buyers should always have a title search from a title company before buying a home. The title company searches all public records databases as well as other sources for any liens, easements (for example, utility company's right to access part of the property), or other encumbrances or title restrictions that could affect the property. If the title search finds any issues or problems, the buyer should have the seller fix those problems as a condition to closing.
You should also consider buying title insurance to protect the title of the property against any adverse claims by third parties or any clouds that the title company may have missed during the title search.
Arizona does not require buyers to hire an attorney during the house buying transaction. Although it is not a requirement, you may decide to hire an attorney at some point during the process. Some situations where you could consider an attorneys' help for example if you are purchasing in a planned unit development that has extensive CC&R's or if you are buying a house jointly with others and need help structuring your co-buyer agreement.