Protect your legal interests when you buy your Tucson home

Having legal counsel represent you from beginning to end of a home purchase transaction can be a smart idea.

For most Americans, their biggest investment is the money they put into buying, improving and maintaining their residences. While your real estate broker, title insurer and mortgage lender are helpful in facilitating the transaction, it is a smart idea to engage an experienced real estate attorney when you purchase a home.

Most people sign all the documents associated with making an offer on a home, taking out a mortgage and buying a house without even reading them. However, these documents are drafted by the lender (such as the mortgage agreement and promissory note), title company (such as deeds and title reports) or real estate agency (such as a brokerage agreement or purchase agreement) with their interests in mind, not necessarily yours.

To protect your own interests and make sure that what you sign is in your best interest, legal counsel should have access to these documents ahead of time in order to conduct a thorough review.

The lawyer will review all documents for accuracy and to ascertain whether there may be provisions that are not in your best interest. Although most of these forms will be presented to you as standard forms, that does not mean that a contract cannot be modified to work better for the particular transaction. It may be possible to negotiate particular terms with the real estate broker, title company or lender if counsel feels they could be fairer to you, the buyer.

Having your counsel look over the title work can be important. For example, are there any issues regarding legal descriptions, boundaries, easements, zoning, adjacent roadways, wells and sewers, contamination of property, chain of title and so on that your lawyer should raise to protect your interests? Your lawyer can also review any title insurance involved in the transaction to be sure you are adequately covered.

Another important aspect of purchasing a home is the buyer's inspection. Most purchase agreements are conditioned on the buyer conducting an acceptable inspection of the premises by a qualified inspector, who will check for problems with structure, the electrical system, plumbing, roof quality, unsafe building materials (lead paint or asbestos, for example) and so on. He or she may also uncover problems with building code compliance.

Should issues be found in the inspection, your attorney may assist with negotiation over repair or replacement, price adjustment, reinspection or terminating the transaction, depending on the circumstances.

Tucson attorney James Whitehill of Whitehill Law Offices, P.C., advises residential buyers and sellers in all aspects of the purchase or sale of their homes throughout Southern Arizona.