Buying and selling property involves navigating transactions that can often be complex and involve large amounts of money. For most, buying and selling property are among the largest transactions they will ever be involved with, and avoiding complications and undue stress is of top priority.
Photo by Nicola Barts
Unfortunately, it is common for one or more issues to arise as a real estate transaction progresses, some of which can even threaten the whole deal. That said, when both parties approach with the right attitude, and a commitment to transparency and cooperation, most complications and disputes can be overcome.
When the parties cannot amicably agree, legal action can ensue, causing more stress and expense for everyone involved. By the time demand letters are being issued, there’s typically been a significant breakdown in communication. While this may not always be avoidable, many disputes can be avoided or resolved by all parties acting in a diligent, respectful, professional way with transparency and integrity.
Here are some of the most common causes of dispute between buyers and sellers during a property transaction:
Failure to Disclose
One of the most common disputes to arise between buyers and sellers is the seller’s failure to disclose facts about the property that could influence the buyer’s decisions, such as how much they are willing to pay, or whether they want to purchase the property at all.
The laws surrounding which types of defects property sellers are bound to disclose differ between states, leaving some buyers more protected than others when it comes to fully understanding what they are purchasing. In some states, buyers are legally allowed to hold real estate agents accountable for failing to disclose any property defects that should have lawfully been shared.
A very common issue that sellers fail to disclose if the condition of the roof or is it is leaking. In many cases, a home inspection will give reveal any roof leaks or damages but time to time we still get customers that have just boughten their house and need to get their roof repaired because it was overlooked or not disclosed. In most, cases the buyer will be notified by the house inspector and they will use it as a negotiation chip to get the price of the house down or have the buyer hire a roofer to make the necessary repairs. Jordan Woolf | Roofer in Hunstville Alabama
Purchase Contract Issues
Another common dispute arises from issues with the purchase contract. Many realtors use standard template forms for property purchase contracts. While this can suffice when navigating the simplest of transactions, some contracts require the inclusion of special considerations that are tricky to satisfactorily include in these standardized forms. The inclusion of inaccurate information is another relatively common cause of dispute between parties.
Agents Not Acting in the Best Interests of Both Parties
It’s common knowledge that real estate agents earn their living through sale commissions, so it makes sense that they are motivated to complete one sale and quickly move on to the next. That said, the success of an agent also relies heavily on their reputation, so it would seem prudent to treat each sale as professionally as possible. Sometimes, disputes arise from a buyer or seller feeling that an agent is not acting in their best interests and is only focused on completing the sale and moving on.
When a deal falls through, disputes can arise regarding which party should retain the deposit amount. Typically, deposit disputes can be easily overcome by following the relevant state laws, and ideally, the guidelines regarding handling the deposit will be clearly outlined in the purchase agreement.
Other Legal Issues
There are a range of legal issues that can arise and complicate the purchase process, such as boundary line disputes, restrictive covenants, easement requests, and more. When particular provisions are requested by either party that do not typically form the basis of a standard property purchase contract, the legalities surrounding the request may cause complications in the process.
Preventing and Resolving Property Purchase Disputes
Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to resolve a property purchase dispute, and the deal will inevitably fall through. Still, there are a number of steps that all parties can take to reduce the risk of disputes arising, as well as ways to resolve them with relative ease.
Work with Reputable Agents
One of the easiest ways to avoid a wide range of complications is to work with a reputable agent from the outset. This may be out of a buyer’s hands should they find their dream property and have no choice but to work with the agent assigned by the seller. Still, most buyers and sellers can choose to carefully research an agent before engaging them to search or sell a property on their behalf.
Provide Transparent Disclosure
Sellers (and their agents) must be familiar with their state’s particular requirements regarding their duty to disclose. Many sellers even prefer to disclose items over and above these requirements to ensure a smooth transaction. Property purchases are large transactions that typically require trust between parties in order to go the distance.
The better the communication between buyers, sellers, and agents, the smoother the transaction will be. Clear communication helps all parties to remain well-informed and trustful. Even if the buyer and seller never communicate directly and instead rely on the agent as the go-between, so long as the agent is efficient in relaying communications, negotiations, minor dispute resolutions, and more, the risk of significant disputes between buyers and sellers is minimized.
Hire a Real Estate Lawyer
In many cases, a property transaction is complex and requires the assistance of an expert in real estate law. A real estate lawyer can provide a range of services, such as preparing contracts and explaining the party’s legal rights and responsibilities to avoid unnecessary disputes between buyers and sellers from disrupting the process.
A transaction as large (and often emotional) as a property purchase needs to be approached with the utmost professionalism, transparency, efficient communication, and integrity, especially in cases where the details are more complex. Do your research, stay informed, be honest, know your rights and responsibilities, and hire the right people for the best outcome to avoid any disputes between buyers and sellers.