Real Estate

What is an abstract? 

An abstract of title is a summary of important documents and legal proceedings affecting a property and that are a matter of public record.  An abstract will show things such as deeds, mortgages, contracts, easements, lawsuits and probate proceedings.

Why is an abstract updated when a property is sold? 

The abstract is updated so that the buyer's attorney can review it to make sure title is clear.  The attorney will verify who owns the property, whether there are any mortgages or liens that affect the property, whether there are any lawsuits that affect the property, and other matters of importance.

Who is responsible for what costs when real estate is sold? 

The parties are free to allocate the costs between them in whatever way they wish.  However, it is customary for the seller to pay to have the abstract updated and to have a deed prepared.  It is typical for the buyer to pay an attorney to review the abstract.  The seller also pays a transfer tax based on the sale value of the property.  Real estate taxes are prorated to the closing date at the seller's cost.  If a buyer is getting a loan, then the buyer usually pays the closing fee, but otherwise it is usually split between the parties or the seller pays it.

Can I buy or sell property without using a real estate agent? 

Sure, so long as you think you don't need the value that an agent can provide.  Agents are knowledgeable about issues that are likely to be part of the transaction.  An agent's greatest value is often on the subject of what a fair price is.  They also assist in marketing the property to other agents and to interested prospects.  Agents can help to negotiate the best price for you and give you advice about how to best present the property.  But, not every situation needs an agent's expertise.  If you believe these services are not needed, then you can try to represent yourself or get limited assistance from an attorney.

If I sell property without a real estate agent, what is involved? 

You will need to work out the terms of the purchase agreement yourself, which an attorney should draw up for you.  The attorney will also provide disclosure documents required by state and federal law, can help to advise you and move the transaction toward closing, and can close the sale.  If you are able to sell the property yourself for a fair price, you can realize substantial savings because commissions are avoided.

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