J Kelly wrote:
> Use an attorney. Always. I've only bought real estate twice, once
> with and once without a real estate agent, but both times I had my
> attorney do a title opinion and part of the original offer to purchase
> the property had a clause that offer was contingent upon a clear title
> and acceptable title opinion from my attorney. ...
The time for an attorney is _before_ you sign the agreement for sale.
While such agreements are pretty much standardized, your attorney can
make sure any special conditions necessary to protect you are listed
and there is nothing to later come back and bite you.
Sorry to say it, but many real estate agents I've seen aren't very
knowledgeable and its hard to find a true professional. When I bought
my place the seller's agent had a bad but justified reputation for
being a real pain and too aggressive, but she knew what she was doing
and she was honest ("Is the building soundproof?" "No"). She made
very sure I was ready for settlement -- that my mortgage, down payment,
etc., were all in order and ready to go. She did phone me a million
times to check, but she was doing her job. Many times one or both
parties aren't properly prepared at settlement and its held up. When
my parents sold their house, the buyer was unprepared and left their
baby with my mother all day while they went downtown and got stuff.
When I sold my mother's house I couldn't use the above mentioned
agent, but I found someone good in the city.
BTW, my mother never got cable TV and I was worried that it would be
expensive and cumbersome for the new people to run cable wires through
the house. When cable first served an area, the companies wired for
free to attract new customers, but nowadays they charge quite dearly
for that. Of course, I presumed the cable would be as carefully and
neatly installed as phone wires were. Nope. The buyer asked for
permission to come in and set up before the closing and I let them
(normally not a good idea), and I found they had the cable installed
that day, a big fat wire poked through the side wall, not discretely
up from the basement.
From that sale I learned how important it was to have even little
things in writing. I had no use for the refrig, washer, and dryer and
wanted to leave them behind for free. The buyer didn't want one of
the units and a friend did, so I was gonna have him come in to take it
out, but then the buyer said they wanted it after all or I was
confused. I ended up leaving everything for them just to make it
simple for me. There was also confusion over the furniture they
wanted. Fortunately they were nice people and everything worked out
ok, but normally these kinds of misunderstandings will lead to
While my mother was able to sign the initial documents, she declined
suddenly and I represented her at closing under power of attorney she
wisely prepared long in advance. Ironically, while at closing no one
gave the POA a second thought even though I was selling a whole house,
which is after all a major transaction. In contrast, in dealing with
my mother's bank accounts of a far lower value, the phone company,
Blue Cross, etc., they gave me a very difficult time despite my having
the POA. The phone co simply wouldn't talk to me since her account
was password protected; fortunately my mother had a good day and was
able to talk to them and remember the password.
As a personal aside, I felt pretty lousy abandoning my mother's
furniture for sentimental reasons -- it was what I grew up with and
its loss brought home hard that my mother wasn't gonna get better. I
had no room for it and other family members lived too far away and
already had their own furniture. My mother's neighbors were extremely
nice and helpful and took care of it for me; whatever nobody wanted
would be carted off to charity and I know my mother would've been
happy doing that. (Selling it would've been more trouble than
anything I would've gained and emotionally painful).