United States Legal Documents


Contracts

US agreements and forms for preparing real estate transactions as an individual rather than as a broker.

12

How to buy a house

The real estate agent works for the seller, not for you

Locating a suitable house to buy is best done through a real estate agent. You should remember that a real estate agent works for the seller, not for you, so you should not reveal anything to the agent that you do not want the seller to know.

Making an offer

The next step is to make an offer on the house for the seller to consider. If the seller is satisfied with the price offered then both parties can proceed to sign a contract for sale and purchase.

While it is not essential, it is a good idea to involve a lawyer right from the beginning to help negotiate the contract for sale and purchase.

What should be included in the contract for sale and purchase?

The contract should include:

  • the particulars of the title
  • any improvements to be made by the seller
  • a list of chattels to be included with the house
  • the price, including the deposit
  • provision for adjustments to be made to land tax, council rates and water rates
  • the rights of the parties to cancel the contract

Any special conditions should also be inserted; it is usually advisable to make the contract:

  • subject to your solicitor's approval of title
  • subject to your approval after you have obtained a "Land Information Memorandum", which contains the local council's records on the property (called a "LIM"; see How to obtain a Land Information Memorandum), and
  • subject to you arranging suitable finance

Builder's reports and pest reports

It is advisable to obtain a builder's report on the structural soundness of the house. It is also possible to get a pest report on the house.

Arranging finance

You should preferably arrange finance before you make an offer on a house. This is especially important if you buy at an auction, as you are committed to the purchase and can be sued for damages if you pull out of the deal (see How to buy a house at an auction).

Valuations

You may wish to have the property valued by a registered valuer. Your lender may require a valuation as a condition of your mortgage.

Married and de facto couples

If you are buying a house with your husband or wife or de facto partner, it is generally best to put the property under both of your names. While under the PROPERTY (RELATIONSHIPS) ACT 1976 there is a strong presumption that the family home will be divided equally if your marriage or de facto relationship ends, this usually doesn't apply to marriages and relationships of less than three years: see How property is divided when a marriage or de facto relationship ends. So particularly if you are buying early on in a marriage or relationship, it would be wise to ensure that you share legal title to the house by having it under both your names.

Cautionary notes
  • Buying a house is likely to be the biggest investment of your life, and there are many pitfalls. It is advisable that you protect yourself by hiring a lawyer at the beginning of the process.
  • At present there are no specific capital gains taxes that must be paid in New Zealand. However, this may change in the future, so you should keep records of the purchase price of your house and the date of purchase in case these tax laws change.
  • It is important that any special conditions of the sale be recorded in writing – for example, that the seller will complete the painting of the third bedroom before settlement, or that the rubbish in the backyard will be removed.

How to buy a section

Introduction

It is a common dream for people to want to buy a section and to build their dream home or holiday home on it. However, buying a section is not as simple as it may sound, and it will always pay to do your homework on the section before putting in an offer, regardless of how attractive the section may look in a real estate advertisement.

As with buying a house (see How to buy a house), it is advisable to have a lawyer involved throughout the process of buying a section.

Doing your homework

A few basic checks for one to perform can avoid a great deal of problems in the future. Ask around to compare the price you are paying with similar sections in the area. Check with the seller or developer what sort of financial packages they might be offering to assist you in buying the section; compare these with other options – for example, those offered by your bank.

All the way through the initial consultation process with the seller or developer do not be afraid to ask what he or she might do for you. If there are any promises these will need to be set out in the contract you sign if you do decide to buy the section.

Check out the "LIM" report on the property

You have every right to ask the seller to provide a property report, known as a Land Information Memorandum (LIM), and all of the legal documents that may affect the section in question, especially the title to the property.

The LIM report is particularly useful as it will provide a variety of important information, including drainage records, the rates, any hazardous soil issues and the road access. The LIM report will also alert you to what is going on around your section and in the area – for example, the size of any adjacent housing plans and any planned recreational areas. For more information on LIM reports, see How to obtain a Land Information Memorandum (LIM).

Are your building plans feasible?

If you are intending to build on the section you will need to consult an architect, draftsperson or builder to look at the section before you buy it, to check the feasibility of your building plans.

It is always important to remember that there may be substantial extra costs and difficulties with sections on hillsides, or with difficult access, or with soft soil or hidden rock, or with DDT residue.

Make sure the purchase is conditional on your lawyer's approval

It is important that at the time that you enter into any contract to buy the land you make sure that the purchase is subject to your lawyer approving the title to the property and a LIM report.

In any case you should ask your lawyer to review any contract that you might be entering into, as the purchase of a section is an important decision and one that can contain many pitfalls for an unsuspecting buyer.

Cautionary notes
  • If buying a section in a new subdivision, be aware that many will include restrictive covenants on the new titles. These are designed to ensure that all of the houses in the subdivision are built to an equally high standard and a specific design using specific materials. These covenants are often very strict, and you should ask your lawyer to examine them carefully.

How to sell a house

Should I use a real estate agent?

The usual process of selling a house involves using a real estate agent. It is the agent's job to find a buyer for your house; the agent will advertise and show the property to potential buyers. You will need to discuss with the agent how much to spend on advertising and who pays for it.

If you use an estate agent, remember that he or she is your agent, not that of the potential buyer. The agent works for you

You may, however, decide not to go through an agent, but rather to sell privately. In this case your lawyer and that of the buyer will complete the agreement for sale and purchase, which your lawyer will charge you for. However, this is usually not the best way to get the best price.

Does the agent get paid whether or not the property is sold?

No, if there is no sale the agent is not entitled to receive any commission.

However, even if a sale does not take place a binding contract may be in place. This means that the agent could be entitled to commission even if the buyer defaults on settlement.

The terms of the sale

As well as the price of the house, you will need to decide what chattels (for example, furniture, drapes) should be included under the sale.

If you are auctioning, it may be advisable to obtain a "Land Information Memorandum" (a LIM), which contains the local council's records on the property, so that the potential buyer can be confident about what he or she is buying (see How to obtain a Land Information Memorandum).

Presenting the property

You should consider whether the house needs any repairs and whether they would increase the value of your house sufficiently to be justified. Remember, presentation is everything.

Types of listing

Once you have established the terms under which you wish to sell your house you should determine the type of agency you want. The possible arrangements include the following:

  • An exclusive listing restricts you from listing with any other agents for a certain time, usually no longer than three months.
  • An open listing allows you to list your property with a number of agents, or it may sometimes reserve you the right to sell the property yourself. In this case, the danger is that the agent is less motivated.
  • A multiple listing is where one agent is given the right to sell the house on the condition that the details of the property are given to the local multiple listing bureau. If one of their members sells the property, the commission is split.

The sale and purchase agreement

The sale and purchase agreement should generally include:

  • the particulars of the title
  • any improvements to be made by the seller
  • a list of chattels to be included with the house
  • the price, including the deposit
  • provision for adjustments to be made to land tax, council rates and water rates
  • the rights of the parties to cancel the contract
Cautionary notes
  • Do not hide any potential problems with your house, such as your fence not being on the boundary. These problems can normally be resolved sensibly and openly between the relevant parties; concealing the problem will likely cause far greater problems later on.
  • You should obtain legal advice early on, as this is often cheaper in the long run.

How to sell a house through an auction

Introduction

Auctions are becoming an increasingly popular way of selling houses. If a property is desirable an auction enables a number of potential buyers to see it at the same time, and therefore it can be a means of obtaining the highest possible price for the property.

The advantages of selling through an auction

The advantages of selling by auction include the following:

  • You as seller set the date for the auction and this creates a sense of urgency that attracts potential buyers. This also allows you to plan more effectively.
  • Prospective buyers do not respond to a price, for they do not know your reserve price; instead, they simply make offers based on what they see. The auction is an environment in which prospective buyers are most likely to go to the top end of the price range that they consider they can afford.
  • If your house sells at the auction you can be sure that you obtained the best possible price on that given day.
  • You, as the owner, set all the conditions – for example, when you move out of the house.
  • You know that the buyer will already have finance arranged.

Do I have to pay a fee for selling through an auction?

Yes, there will be a fee involved in holding an auction, whether the house sells or not. Make sure to check with your real estate agent for details about this.

"Particulars and Conditions of Auction"

Usually a set of Particulars and Conditions of Auction are drawn up for the particular property before the auction. These are usually drafted by the auctioneer, and submitted to you for approval.

In the Particulars and Conditions you should include any special conditions that might attach to the property. For instance, if there was an agreement between you and a neighbour about some particular matter, and the agreement was not registered on the title, then the Particulars and Conditions should mention it.

How is the auction run?

Usually you as seller will set a reserve price for the property. It is usual practice for this not to be disclosed to bidders.

You may be entitled to bid for the property too, but this will be indicated in the Particulars and Conditions.

Once the highest bidder is found, that person becomes the buyer and must sign a contract and pay a deposit (usually 10 percent). If that person is unable to pay the deposit the auctioneer may re-open the bidding, or take the second highest bid so long as it is above the reserve price.

Conditional buyers

If a house does not sell at the auction there is a strong chance that it will sell shortly after with the bringing back of any conditional buyers – that is, those who could not make an unconditional offer because, for example, they had not yet arranged finance.

Cautionary notes
  • Sellers at an auction are advised to have their lawyer present.

How to buy a house at an auction

Introduction

Auctions have proved to be a popular way of selling houses in recent years. Buyers should be aware that the whole process has its own peculiar set of rules and potential difficulties. You should make sure that you do all the necessary background work before the auction.

Check the "Particulars and Conditions of Auction"

Usually a set of Particulars and Conditions of Auction are drawn up for the particular property before the auction. You should study these closely before the auction and take particular note of any special conditions that might attach to the property. For instance, if there was an agreement between the owner and a neighbour about some particular matter, and the agreement was not registered on the title, then the Particulars and Conditions need to mention it.

Warranties

Be aware of what warranties the seller is giving in relation to the property. In the Particulars and Conditions the seller may try to limit the warranties that apply in a standard agreement for sale and purchase.

Land Information Memorandum

It is very important that you obtain a Land Information Memorandum, which contains the local council's records on the property (see How to obtain a Land Information Memorandum), and that you are satisfied with all aspects of the property.

How is the auction run?

Usually the seller will have set a reserve price for the property. It is usual practice for this not to be disclosed to bidders.

The seller may be entitled to bid for the property too, but this will be indicated in the Particulars and Conditions.

Once the highest bidder is found, that person becomes the buyer and must sign a contract and pay a deposit (usually 10 percent). If you are unable to pay the deposit the auctioneer may re-open the bidding, or take the second highest bid so long as it was above the reserve price.

Cautionary notes
  • You should not attempt to back out of the deal by claiming not to have the deposit: the auctioneer has the authority to sign the contract on your behalf, and you would then become liable for the full purchase price.
  • Make sure you do the necessary background work before the auction and that you are satisfied with the property that you intend to bid for, as you cannot make a conditional offer at an auction.

NZ$19.95

Used in residential real estate transactions that do not involve a broker and in which the Buyer is either paying cash or the Seller is financing the purchase with a promissory note.

Document Delivery Format:Delivery format: Download MS Word or PDF file
Document Source:Complies with US and State law
Document User Guide Available:General instructions and checklist
Document Assembly Method:User fills in template blanks
Document Preview/Sample Available:Document preview: Download partial view of document
Help Support Email/Telephone:Limited - not legal advice
Country:US jurisdiction
State:na
MainSiteUrl:www.findlegalforms.com
NZ$19.95

This Contract for Deed is for use by a property seller who will finance a purchase and retain title in the property until all payment provisions are met.

Document Delivery Format:Delivery format: Download MS Word or PDF file
Document Source:Complies with US and State law
Document User Guide Available:General instructions and checklist
Document Assembly Method:User fills in template blanks
Document Preview/Sample Available:Document preview: Download partial view of document
Help Support Email/Telephone:Limited - not legal advice
Country:US jurisdiction
State:na
MainSiteUrl:www.findlegalforms.com
NZ$7.99

When a general contractor completes and receives full payment for a project, it is important that the contractor give its customer a release and waiver of liens.

Document Delivery Format:Delivery format: Download MS Word or PDF file
Document Source:Complies with US and State law
Document User Guide Available:General instructions and checklist
Document Assembly Method:User fills in template blanks
Document Preview/Sample Available:Document preview: Download partial view of document
Help Support Email/Telephone:Limited - not legal advice
Country:US jurisdiction
State:na
MainSiteUrl:www.findlegalforms.com
NZ$9.99

Real Estate Contract for sale of vacant land.

Document Delivery Format:Delivery format: Download MS Word or PDF file
Document Source:Complies with US and State law
Document User Guide Available:General instructions and checklist
Document Assembly Method:User fills in template blanks
Document Preview/Sample Available:Document preview: Download partial view of document
Help Support Email/Telephone:Limited - not legal advice
Country:US jurisdiction
State:na
MainSiteUrl:www.findlegalforms.com
NZ$19.95

Can be used when selling or buying a free-standing residential home.

Document Delivery Format:Delivery format: Download MS Word or PDF file
Document Source:Complies with US and State law
Document User Guide Available:General instructions and checklist
Document Assembly Method:User fills in template blanks
Document Preview/Sample Available:Document preview: Download partial view of document
Help Support Email/Telephone:Limited - not legal advice
Country:US jurisdiction
State:na
MainSiteUrl:www.findlegalforms.com
NZ$6.99

This Real Estate Contract for Sale of Vacant Land is between the buyer and seller of vacant land without improvements.

Document Delivery Format:Delivery format: Download MS Word or PDF file
Document Source:Complies with US and State law
Document User Guide Available:General instructions and checklist
Document Assembly Method:User fills in template blanks
Document Preview/Sample Available:Document preview: Download partial view of document
Help Support Email/Telephone:Limited - not legal advice
Country:US jurisdiction
State:na
MainSiteUrl:www.findlegalforms.com
NZ$19.95

Kit with tools and guidelines to assist in the preparation, drafting, and finalizing of a Real Estate Disclosure Form.

Document Delivery Format:Delivery format: Download MS Word or PDF file
Document Source:Complies with US and State law
Document User Guide Available:General instructions and checklist
Document Assembly Method:User fills in template blanks
Document Preview/Sample Available:Document preview: Download partial view of document
Help Support Email/Telephone:Limited - not legal advice
Country:US jurisdiction
State:na
MainSiteUrl:www.findlegalforms.com

United States
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United States
Fast & cost effective answers to your unique legal questions
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