From the Forum – Looking for Home buying advice


Home buying advice:

“I’m a first-time homebuyer, in the process of purchasing my current rental home from my landlord. Since we don’t have a realtor, it’s been a pretty steep learning curve to figure out how all of this works !

The landlord has provided us with a signed sales contract. We are wondering whether we need to have a lawyer review the contract with us to understand the terms and make sure it is fair. The lender didn’t seem to think that was necessary, he said it’s a standard contract. But of course, we don’t really even know what that entails.

Any thoughts? If we need a lawyer, do you have any recommendations for one? Any and all advice much appreciated, we are navigating this process somewhat blindly. Thanks so much!”

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18 Comment

  • Smart idea to not use a broker for this – you’re both saving a lot of money. I don’t have any recs, but definitely get a lawyer to look it over. Worth the peace of mind, IMO.

    • What s/he said. GET A LAWYER! I’m surprised you’d even think about signing a contract involving a large sum of money without having legal advice.

  • While they will charge X for their time – reviewing a contract and you having the ability to ask a few questions won’t require much so it might be worth it for peace of mind.

  • justinbc

    I used Monarch Title and was pretty satisfied with them.

    • gotryit

      I was also happy with Monarch.
      If you’re not well versed in real estate contracts, then I do advise getting help. Think about it – you have hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line.
      Also, there is no such thing as a “standard contract”. There are standard clauses, but you have to know when to use them and what they mean.

  • How much will you be spending for the property? Oh, only a couple 100 grand? For God Sake, get some professional help!

    The lender is NOT a lawyer. The owner, though nice/kind/etc., is much more concerned with what HE’S getting (or getting rid of) and NOT YOUR INTERESTS. Get someone on your side to make sure this doesn’t get botched! You may be getting a raw deal in the transaction, not to mention future issues when trying to sell it later. (Do you know what a cloud on the title means? Hope so or you may find out years from now.)

    And BTW-you aren’t saving ANY MONEY by not using a REALTOR, the owner certainly is. I hope that was factored in on the price. S000 many other questions, but you’re a grown-up and it’s only a couple 100 grand.

    • said like a true Realtor. Spend a couple hundred dollars for an hour with a reputable real estate attorney or title company. monarch title, stewart title in dupont circle is also really good.

      • Not true, the poster is right that the seller generally pays the buyer’s realtor commission. So if the buyer is forgoing a realtor, hope he/she is getting 1 or 2 percent knocked of the sales price, because the seller is saving 3 percent.

  • My advice is YES you need a lawyer, someone who knows how to properly draw up the contract so the deal will go through. This may be just a few hundred $. Also, as a home buyer it costs you nothing to have a buyer’s agent. You are just saving the seller a lot of money as the seller pays the real estate agent. It could be good thing for you as well if you think you are getting the house for below market rate, but generally in a situation like this it’s mainly the seller that benefits. I would also highly recommend getting a home inspection if you haven’t done that…and consider buying a home warranty policy as well. Most of my friends who have bought homes, especially older homes like in DC, have had major repairs needed within a year or so of buying (furnace issues, water leaks, roof issues, etc).

    • There are several title companies that offer free 1-year home warranties as a thank you for doing business with them. Mine did. Ask if that is something that the title co offers!

      • gotryit

        Be careful with the deductible and other fine print on those home warranties. Some of them are pretty useless.

  • YES!!! Get either a realestate lawyer or procure the services of an experienced real estate agent for a predetermined number of hours. I just bought my first home and there were so many clauses and addendums that I didn’t understand. Please please please, for the love of God, get a professional to go over the documents with you. You don’t want to end up in a position where you have *inadvertantly* waived your rights to the home inspection, or signed some fandangled finance contingency because the landlord said that it was ‘standard’.

    Don’t go at this alone. Purchasing a home is a big deal, and you should arm yourself with as much information as possible. Don’t just trust that the landlord has your best interest at heart!!!

  • Never sign a legal document if you don’t understand what you’re signing! Definitely spend the extra money to have someone review the documentation – you’ll be glad you did.

  • General default is- If you’re questioning whether or not to get a lawyer (in almost any situation), just get it. You’ll be grateful later.

    Don’t end up like those people on that Holmes on Homes show who admit they never got an inspection done or properly read the contracts they signed.

  • My father is a lawyer who specializes in contracts/civil litigation (he’s out of state, otherwise I’d recommend him to you!) and growing up, he never let an opportunity pass to remind me to read EVERYTHING I ever signed, and if I didn’t understand it, to have him read it first. He always told me how so much of his business came from people who simply didn’t read/fully understand a contract they signed, and then found themselves in sticky situations later on. Definitely get a lawyer to help you out, especially when you’re dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on a place..

  • Congratulations on buying your first(?) place. Yes, you most definitely need a lawyer to help you and you should get a home inspection, even though it might seem as having lived there you know the ins and outs. Inspections are recommended even for brand new construction. For example, it might be a standard contract but if you are getting a loan, the property still needs to appraise as its value or, without an appraisal contingency, you might be forced to put down the difference. These are all terms you should review and understand before signing. Is your contract already ratified? Home-buying is confusing the first time (and probably several after)–no shame in not knowing everything. In addition to professional advice, I learned a lot on the Redfin home buying guides and forums. Good luck!

  • Congrats on your upcoming home purchase. We recently bought a house from friends without a realtor. We would highly recommend Settlement Pros – they were fantastic and everything went smoothly. They are located in Bethesda. Carol Calomiris is an attorney and they handled both drafting the contract and all of the procedural steps all the way through closing. Good luck.

    Carol Lynn Calomiris, Esq.
    Managing Attorney
    5101 Wisconsin Avenue NW Suite 101
    Washington, DC 20016
    O: 202.363.1870 | F: 202.363.1874
    [email protected]

  • justinbc

    Left leg goes in first.

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