800 Town & Country Boulevard • Suite 500
Houston TX 77024
Located in CityCentre
Whether you are buying or selling a new or an existing home, you will be entering into contracts with various participants in the process, including real estate agents, title companies, home inspectors, surveyors, contractors, and mortgage companies or banks. In addition, each of these participants will receive payment for its services in the form of fees or commissions that either the seller or buyer will have to pay, so more than the price of the house has to be paid when the sale is closed.
When you hire a realtor to help you buy or sell a home, you are entering into a legally binding contract with the realtor. Primarily, if you are a seller, your obligation will be to pay the realtor a commission once the house is sold and the sale is closed. Ordinarily, the commission comes out of the proceeds of the sale. If you are a buyer, your realtor will receive her or his commission the same way, from the proceeds of the sale.
Federal and state fair housing laws prohibit certain practices in the selling of homes to prevent unfair discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability or national origin. If you believe you have been discriminated against for any of these reasons in your search for a home, you can file a complaint with the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at this web address: http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/topics/housing_discrimination.
Once the buyer has identified the home he or she wants, the purchase and sale will likely proceed as follows:
Unless you take action early on, you won’t have a chance to choose the title company for your purchase or sale of a home. Lenders and mortgage brokers often use captive or favorite title companies, but you don’t have to accept their choice. A poorly run title company can seriously delay the closing or even cause a deal to fall through, so you should discuss this with your realtor before you make an offer on a home.
Ask plenty of questions. The construction process can be complex and drawn out, so always ask for explanations of anything you don’t understand. It is definitely worth a few hundred dollars to hire and pay an independent building inspector to periodically check on the builder’s progress to avoid problems later in the process.
Pay close attention to the builder’s warranties.
If you are getting upgrades, make sure they are included in any contract that you sign. Try to visit the builder’s design center before you sign a contract. You may encounter resistance about this but don’t give up easily. You have a right to full disclosure of what will wind up in your contract and what a salesperson may tell you about available materials and features may not exactly match what is available at the design center. Don’t assume that different departments in your builder’s company communicate well with each other. The design center may be slow in telling sales representatives about changes in materials.
It is even more important to hire your own inspector when buying an existing home than it is when buying new construction, so be sure to find and hire a reputable and competent inspector. You should have the house inspected before you make an offer. The inspector’s report may convince you to look elsewhere and once you have made an offer, you may lose your earnest money if you withdraw your offer if your agreement doesn't adequately allow for inspections. A competent realtor is indispensable because he or she can ensure that your contract contains the protections you need.