Real estate law can be tricky to figure out, especially for first-time house buyers and sellers. You may hear much about what you should and should not do, as well as what you can and cannot do under New Jersey law, but how do you know what to trust? The attorneys at the Law Offices of James C. Dezao, P.A. have extensive experience in the field of real estate law. Their team of expert attorneys will address here three common real estate misconceptions that homeowners face.
1. No, You Cannot Sue Over Every Undisclosed Defect in a House
The New Jersey legal system has upheld the rights of house buyers when it comes to purchasing a house with significant issues. If house sellers do not inform potential buyers of issues in the house, they can be successfully sued. It is therefore in the best interests of everyone involved in the purchase of a house for the seller to disclose, whether orally or in writing, the defects in the house and property.
However, that does not apply to every problem one could identify. This specifically applies to the material defects, a term that the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors defines as “a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.”
This means that a buyer can certainly sue a seller if the latter was aware of issues with the plumbing, a broken air conditioning unit, or faulty electrical wiring and neglected to inform the former. However, this also means that the buyer would not really have a strong case for suing if they take offense to a dusty attic, curtains that are dirty on one side, or other defects that are more cosmetic than material. While you should certainly feel free to file a claim over something that is wrong with your new house, you should take into consideration, among other factors, whether the problem is all that significant.
2. No, Paying a Mortgage Does Not Mean You Automatically Have Homeowner’s Insurance
You may think that your payments for your mortgage bills include payments for your homeowner’s insurance, and that is a perfectly understandable assumption to make. After all, you need to pay for that insurance in order to work with a mortgage lender. How could it not be the case that your bills include those premium payments?
As the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (NJDOBI) wrote in their Frequently Asked Questions page, any homeowners asking this question should have the precise information about “who is insuring your home and whether the premium has been paid.” There is no standardized format for the relationship between premium payments and mortgage payments. Sometimes, paying for the mortgage covers the insurance as well, and sometimes, you only have to pay for the mortgage while the mortgage pays for the premium.
The problem is that this is not always clear, and confusion is possible if there is any failure in communication. That confusion can have potentially serious consequences if you end up missing payments for your homeowners’ insurance, which is why NJDOBI advises that you “contact your lender and your insurance company to make sure your policy is in place and the premium is getting paid.”
3. Yes, Hiring an Attorney Can Be Greatly Helpful
Some might tell you that while having a real estate attorney at your side can be helpful, it is not needed. Many people take this advice to mean that the services an attorney can provide may not be worth the cost of retaining them. You may call us biased if you wish, but there are many ways that an attorney can provide great aid during the real estate process.
Among other capabilities, real estate attorneys can assist you in reviewing documents, finding significant details in contracts, negotiating the particulars in contracts, and correctly filing documents. These are all steps in the process of buying, selling, and/or renting a house that can be extremely difficult for people without much knowledge or experience with the New Jersey legal system to deal with, and steps where you will want someone with that experience and knowledge to provide guidance and assistance.
Of course, there is no rule stating that you absolutely must retain the services of a real estate attorney, and you certainly could try to go through the real estate process without one. However, having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney at your service can make navigating the process much simpler and much more painless.
If you or a loved one have any questions concerning real estate law, the attorneys at Dezao Law can answer them and assist you with any concerns you may have. Call today at (973) 358-6134 and receive a free consultation.