If you are new to home ownership or have owned a home in another state, be aware that the laws and procedures in California may be different than what you are used to. Fortunately, California is a state that is friendly to home buyers, so you should not encounter too many problems. However, it is important to be familiar with the basics of home buying in this state.
You May Not Meet The Seller At All
In California, the law doesn’t require the buyer and seller to meet each other in person. In fact, buyers and sellers in California are often represented by their own real estate brokers and agents who communicate with each other on their clients’ behalf. So it’s possible that you might visit a house, ask questions about it, and negotiate a purchase agreement without ever meeting the actual seller.
You don’t have to be there when the sale of your home goes through. The title or escrow company will take care of everything. You will get the keys once all the paperwork is done. This is a good way to make sure that the sale goes through smoothly and without any delays.
You might want to think about hiring a real estate attorney
Some states require that each party to a real estate transaction have their own lawyer to represent them at the closing. California does not have this requirement.
The Residential Purchase Agreement and Joint Escrow Instructions is a form that is used in most states, including California. This form is prepared by the California Association of Realtors. Your real estate agent will help you complete this form, and you do not need to have an attorney review it. If the seller accepts your offer, they will simply sign this form and it will serve as the final contract.
There is a chance that a real estate agent may not be able to answer your questions pertaining to certain circumstances, in which case, having a real estate attorney in your corner may be a good idea.
Dual Agency Can Occur
In California, real estate law permits sellers and buyers to be represented by the same broker or agency during a transaction. When both the seller and buyer are represented by the same broker, or are represented by two separate agents working for the same broker, this is called a dual agency relationship.
Many states do not allow dual agency. Dual agency is when one agent represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction. This can create a conflict of interest because the agent may not be able to give each party confidential information.
You may need to pay Mello-Roos taxes
In California, you will need to pay property tax on the home you buy. The rate varies depending on which county you live in, and it is based on the purchase price of your home and annual reassessments. You can find more information on this subject on the State Board of Equalization’s website.
In addition, some California property owners are required to pay Mello-Roos taxes. This money is used to fund improvements to local infrastructures, like streets, sewers, schools, and parks. For more information about Mello-Roos taxes, you can read the Community Facilities Act (Government Code §53311-53368.3).
Disclosures, Disclosures, Disclosures!
California law requires sellers to tell potential buyers about any physical defects in the home, as well as any environmental concerns, pest problems, and other material issues. You can find more information about your disclosure obligations by talking to a real estate professional.
When buying a home in California, it is important to be aware of the many differences between this process and those in other states. By asking the right questions and being familiar with what to expect, you can have a smooth and successful real estate purchase.
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