Purchasing a home is not only one of the biggest steps you'll take in your life but it can also represent one of the most important legal issues you'll ever deal with. It can be an intimidating process but having a basic knowledge of real estate law in Iowa can go a long way in helping you.
In Iowa real estate agents have a legal responsibility to protect the buyer's rights. This is called a "fiduciary duty" which must be spelled out in writing. Fiduciary duties include disclosure, utmost care and honesty. You might want to consider hiring a buyer's agent to avoid a conflict of interest. If a sale is made the commission is divided between the buyer's and seller's agents.
When a house goes on the market, it is important to have a disclosure of any pre-existing problems that the house may have even if this has a negative impact on the selling price or even the ability to sell a house. Iowa real estate law requires sellers to complete a property disclosure form which should include (but not limited to) any of the following problems: plumbing or sewage, any water leaks or wet basements, heating and air condition problems and roofing issues.
If you find a house you're interested in buying, the next step is to write up and sign a purchase and sale agreement with the buyer. It's important at this point consult with a real estate attorney before you sign any contract. This transaction involves a number of legal issues that only a lawyer experienced in Iowa real estate law is equipped handle. Before you finalize any home purchase it's advisable to hire an independent home inspection service. A home inspection will ensure that all areas of the house are in sound condition. You can make your offer dependent upon the outcome of the inspection.
When it comes time to transfer ownership of the home you will need to pay what are called closing costs. These are expenses you will need to pay at the time of purchase. In Iowa, the closing costs include broker fees, a credit report, appraisal fees and title search. You can often negotiate some of the closing fees with the seller as part of your purchase agreement. Sometimes a seller is willing to absorb some of the closing costs in order to make a quick sale.