David William Jordan

Attorney & Counselor at Law

Home Buying Tips to Help Avoid the Closing From Hell

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Get a lawyer!

Yeah, I know, that's what you would expect me to say. But the fact is this is usually the biggest financial deal of your life, and as a buyer, there is no one looking out for your best interests. If you are not going to hire a lawyer you are foolish at best. At least read these tips.

  1. Make sure the seller owns the property!

    This sounds simple, but recently a first time home buyer entered into a Purchase and Sales Agreement for a condo in Concord. The owner had died and the person signing the agreement signed as "executive administrator." The closing was scheduled for 60 days later, and the buyer arranged for financing but the "seller" asked to postpone with no explanation. The seller did this for months with no explanation and no help from the realtor.

    First, I never heard of an executive administrator. Turns out that the seller had no authority to sell the property.

  2. Put in the all-purpose out! Make the contract contingent on a review by your attorney.

    This is not just a sly way to get you to have a lawyer.

    Add the following language to the standard New Hampshire realtor’s contract:

    "Subject to review and concurrence by Buyer’s Counsel within 72 hours of the execution of this agreement."

  3. Put everything in writing.

    You could not wait to sit in that hot tub under the stars but it is gone. Make sure you be specific. If the hot tub stays, put it in the contract. If it is a portable hot tub, it is probably personal property and, unless it is specifically mentioned in the contract, the sellers will be able to take it with them.

  4. Try to totally complete the transaction at closing.

    Recently, I had a client that was arrested for trespassing because he arrived in the spring to pick up his swing set and dog house that was frozen in the ground at closing in January. Of course, no one thought to put anything in writing.

  5. Know the condominium rules and restrictions before you sign anything.

    Condominium living is not for everyone. There may be a rule against having a dog over 50 pounds and your lovable Great Dane that tips the scales at 150 pounds isn’t going to be permitted.

    Make sure any contract you sign includes the language: "Subject to review and approval of the condominium documents by Buyer’s counsel."

  6. If time is important say so emphatically!

    If you absolutely, positively have to close and move in your new house on a specific date, then say so in the contract. Say "time is of the essence." Put down some penalty if the seller fails to close through no fault of your own. Otherwise, a closing date of July 22 does not necessarily mean July 22 exactly; it means around July 22.

  7. Do a last minute walk through.

    Yes, you want to do a walk through to make sure that the home is in a condition acceptable to you. If it is a mess then you can address that at closing by having your attorney negotiate a hold back to pay for cleanup.

  8. Don’t be a nice guy and let the seller stay a few extra days.

    This is a recipe for disaster. Simply, don’t let the seller stay after closing and if, you are a seller, don’t let a buyer move in before closing. There are so many issues to consider that it is simply not worth it. Some issues include:

    • who is responsible if someone gets hurt or the property is damaged;
    • do each of you have an insurable interest;
    • what if the seller doesn't sell or the buyer doesn't buy.

  9. Don’t let the seller make any repairs!

    If there are some deficiencies disclosed by the home inspection report, get a written estimate from your contractor and have that amount deducted from the sales price. The seller will want to have the repairs done as inexpensively as possible; you want them done right.

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