Buying Real Estate

Once the buyer has identified a property to purchase, the next step in the real estate transaction is to prepare the purchase contract. Victoria Smith works with buyers who are represented by real estate agents, but want the reassurance of having an attorney review the documentation, as well as buyers who are self-represented.  The purchase contract needs to include several key components, including the time limitations for investigating the property and removing contingencies, whether there is to be a “liquidated damages” clause so as to limit the cost to the buyer if the contact is terminated, the price, and potentially the financing.

The buyer must be prepared to do his or her due diligence within a very short time frame, including obtaining various professional reports on the condition of the property.  Understanding the due diligence required of the buyer is particularly important in post-foreclosure real estate purchase.  As well, it is very important for buyers in the Lamorinda area, purchasing hillside property in particular, to learn and understand whether the property has suffered from earth movement or drainage issues, and to obtain an appropriate geotechnical report.  Victoria can work with the parties to be sure the due diligence issues are understood.

It is also critical to the successful transfer of the property to do a proper review of the title issues in the transaction and provide appropriate instructions to the escrow officer.  With 26 years of experience in identifying and resolving title and escrow issues, Victoria will work with buyers and and agents to make sure that the parties understand the impact of encumbrances upon title that are discovered during the title search, and will ensure that the escrow officer is provided with the necessary documents and information to close the transaction on time.

Given the abundance of current “short sales” that is, sales of property for less than the total amount owed to the lenders, it is important to note that the Governor has recently signed into law Senate Bill 458, effective July 15, 2011.  SB 458 expands the protection offered to sellers of short sale properties, by limiting the lender’s recovery to the short sale proceeds, whether the lender holds a first Deed of Trust or a junior Deed of Trust, and by prohibiting the lender from requiring the borrower to pay extra compensation additional to the “sale proceeds” in return for the lender agreeing to the short sale.  This bill was supported by the California Association of Realtors in the hope that it will make the short sale process easier for sellers,  increase the number of properties available to buyers, and lead to the re-growth of the California real estate market.