Legal Toolkit Ohio Real Estate and Housing Law

What to Know About Real Estate and Housing Law

a

A real estate attorney's

motivation is about what is best for his or her client in a transaction, not whether the client decides to buy or sell a house or property. In the world of sales, there can be a tendency to downplay problems in the interest of closing the deal. By hiring a real estate attorney before you sign on with a Realtor®, and before you sign any contracts, you can know in advance how best to position and protect yourself related to negotiations about Realtor® fees, property inspection issues, offering prices and the actual buying or selling contract.

b

Buying real estate

is often the biggest investment of a person's life. It involves many serious legal issues affecting the rights and obligations of both buyers and sellers. Not only will the parties enter into a legally binding contract, but buyers will be presented with many complicated documents at closing, including those related to the mortgage loan. While most purchases proceed smoothly, misunderstandings about obligations and rights of the parties are frequent. Having an attorney to advise you about potential legal issues, negotiate the purchase contract, and explain the many loan and closing documents can help avoid those problems and ensure that your purchase transaction goes without a hitch.

c

Tenants and landlords

have rights and responsibilities to each other. Landlords, for most properties, may not deny housing to a tenant based on discriminatory reasons like race, age, sex, national origin, religion, familial status (having children or being pregnant), and physical or mental disability. Landlords have a right to request a credit report on a prospective tenant and to deny rental based on negative aspects of that credit history but they will also be required to alert the tenant of the source of negative information and some details about the report. Tenants, with signed leases, have rights to a livable residence, protecting them against unsafe living conditions and landlords have a responsibility to repair problems quickly. Tenants who put dated repair requests politely but firmly in writing to the landlord may find repairs are accomplished more quickly. Keeping dated copies of each repair request creates a paper trail for the tenant, in the event of further repair problems or lack of response. Unsafe conditions that go ignored despite repair requests may provide tenants with certain remedies, including the right to escrow rent, arrange repairs themselves and deduct costs from their next rent check. For clarification on tenant rights in your state, check with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or tenant rights organizations for advice. See "Where to Read More" for links.

d

Home Equity Loans

should be carefully considered to be sure the rate, terms, fees, and points are appropriate and understood before signing. Home owners should not borrow more than they can comfortably pay back and should be very wary of any lenders advising them to take more than the value of their home. Shopping the loan among various lenders will allow an opportunity to see offers side-by-side before finalizing the selection. Be sure to know the length of the loan, interest rate, terms, current and future monthly payments, and insurance and/or fees that may not be included in the monthly quote. Determine whether and how the interest rate will change at any time during the loan, if there are balloon payments built in, what fees you’ll be charged at closing, and whether optional credit insurance is included. If you make a choice and later change your mind about the home equity loan, you have 3 days, including Saturdays, to cancel the loan, without any financial penalty. If you cancel the loan, the creditor has 20 days to return all money or property you paid as part of the transaction and release any security interest in your home.

e

Renovations and New Home Builds

present their own set of possible legal and contract issues that a real estate attorney can help to navigate in advance, if you seek legal help before documents are signed. Once contracts are signed, you will be stuck with what is on the paper, committing you to a particular property, contractor, contract details, or construction or home equity loan. If consulted in advance, a real estate attorney can advise about the best course of action and any potential pitfalls about which to be aware. Real estate attorneys can also advise you about how tolerant you should be about work performed by your contractor and sub-contractors and how best to accomplish cooperative correction of work about which you can't (or shouldn't) be tolerant.