Buying a Home in Texas

Thinking of purchasing a home in Texas? Here are some issues you should consider.

Buying a house is a huge event in your life. It's probably the biggest purchase you will ever make, so before you make the very important decision to purchase, take some time to figure out how much house you can afford, the ideal neighborhood and what kind of features you would like in a home. There are also some legal issues you should be aware of such as disclosures, purchase contracts, possible title defects, zoning issues and taxes etc. But, with the right preparation, careful choice of a real estate professional along with other qualified professionals, purchasing a home in Texas can become a very positive experience for you.

Advantages of Working with a Real Estate Professional in Texas

Before you buy a house, condo, or other home in Texas, contact a real estate agent who can help you find your home and handle the procedures involved with the purchase. There are many benefits of using a real estate agent, for example:

  • knowledge of the neighborhoods, home prices and the market conditions for the area
  • ability to match homes that are for sale to your needs as well as your budget
  • prepare offers and handling paperwork
  • manage deadlines and
  • negotiating the final deal.

Your real estate agent should be able to help you every step of the way, from drafting a written offer and negotiating with the seller on price and other terms, to coordinating the escrow process and the closing. Your real estate agent can also help you locate other knowledgeable professionals who can assist you in the home buying process, including mortgage brokers and home inspectors.

Here's the good news - working with a professional real estate agent won't cost you any money. The seller usually pays the entire commission which is generally 5% to 6% of the house sale price, split between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent.

You should be sure to choose a real estate agent that has experience representing buyers, has good references and has the qualifications to meet your home buying needs in terms of your ideal location, type of property and your budget.

Your real estate agent should also help you locate other professionals to assist you in the home purchase process, including mortgage brokers and home inspectors.

Texas Seller Disclosure Requirements: State law in Texas requires sellers to disclose a number of specific disclosures regarding the condition of the property, containing all of the information set forth in the Texas Real Estate Commissions disclosure form. This is important for you as a buyer, since just looking at a property may not be enough to tell you what problems its owner encountered with it while living there.

The form requires the seller to list various features and equipment contained in the home and to state whether any known defects exist.

Buyers should not rely solely on the seller's disclosure, however, but should hire an independent home inspector to verify the information from the seller's disclosure. Many buyers make their offer contingent upon a satisfactory inspection report.

Forty-seven percent of first-time homebuyers in Texas report that finding the right property is the most difficult step in the house buying process. Source: 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Texas Report, by the National Association of Realtors.

Texas Real Estate Purchase Agreements

A real estate contract must be in writing and signed by the parties (buyers and sellers) to the contract. It must contain an offer to sell or purchase, an acceptance of the offer, the sale price, and an adequate description of the property. Texas real estate agents must use a real estate contract form approved by the Texas Real Estate Commission.

Title Issues in Texas

Buyers should always have a title search from a title company before buying a home. The title company searches all public records databases as well as other sources for any liens, easements (for example, utility company's right to access part of the property), or other encumbrances or title restrictions that could affect the property. If the title search finds any issues or problems, the buyer should have the seller fix those problems as a condition to closing.

You should also consider buying title insurance to protect the title of the property against any adverse claims by third parties or any clouds that the title company may have missed during the title search.

Working with an Attorney in Texas

Texas does not require buyers to hire an attorney during the house buying transaction. Although it is not a requirement, you may decide to hire an attorney at some point during the process. Some situations where you could consider an attorneys' help for example if you are purchasing in a planned unit development that has extensive CC&R's or if you are buying a house jointly with others and need help structuring your co-buyer agreement.

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