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The residential real estate process is important to understand

Purchasing a home is typically a significant transaction in the lives of home buyers which is also true when homeowners are selling a home. There are a variety of important steps in the residential home buying or home-selling process. It is helpful for home buyers or sellers to be as familiar as possible with the elements and legal requirements of the process which can help ensure a smooth experience and successful transaction.

Understanding title insurance in Pennsylvania

Anyone who has bought a home in Philadelphia and borrowed a portion of the purchase price from a bank or other lender in the last forty years has been required to purchase something called "title insurance." The premium for the title insurance policy is generally one of the smaller expenses paid by the buyer at closing, and most people pay it without asking too many questions. In this post, we want to review the role of title insurance in a residential real estate transaction and help home buyers understand what it is and how it works.

Saving your home from foreclosure: having a good lawyer helps

Losing the family home to foreclosure is a nightmare that still haunts many middle and lower class families in Philadelphia. When the housing bubble burst in 2008, banks scrambled to clear their books of questionable residential real estate loans by aggressively foreclosing on loans that were delinquent. While the acute crisis of 2008 has passed, people who have lost their jobs or incurred unexpected expenses such as large medical bills are still struggling to make their regular monthly mortgage payments. A notice of foreclosure can arrive out of the blue, and with it, a feeling of utter helplessness.

Residential real estate warranties in Pennsylvania

Buying or building a new home can be the fulfillment of a dream if the house is soundly built and free from defects. A newly built house can also be the beginning of a nightmare if the builder made mistakes or took shortcuts that affect the quality of the construction. Pennsylvania does not have a statute that requires contractors to extend specific warranties concerning the condition of new residential real estate construction. Instead, buyers must rely upon on common law warranties - that is, warranties created by courts in lawsuits based on construction defects - or upon any express warranties extended by the builder or by a home warranty company.

Understanding the basics of buying a home

For most people in Philadelphia and its suburbs, buying a home will be the largest financial transaction of their lives. Even couples who are purchasing their second or third house may be unaware of changes in the complex state and federal laws that regulate land sales. The summary that follows does not pretend to provide complete and authoritative legal advice -it merely explains the basics that are common to most if not all residential real estate purchases.

New mortgage disclosure rules take effect

Anyone in the Philadelphia area who has used a bank loan secured by a first mortgage to purchase residential real estate in the last thirty years has dealt with several forms intended to disclose the terms of the loan. According to federal rules, lenders were required to give these forms to borrowers before the closing, but the forms often lacked correct information or were not provided until the day of closing, effectively depriving the borrowers of the intended protections. Under a new set of rules promulgated by the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") that became effective on October 1, 2015, lenders, borrowers, loan brokers and real estate agents are learning to work with a new set of disclosure requirements and a new set of disclosure forms that apply to all residential real estate transactions.

Reverse mortgage can be trap for surviving spouse

One of the most innovative and appealing developments in the law of residential real estate in the last thirty years is the so-called "reverse mortgage." Instead of providing money to purchase a home, a reverse mortgage allows home owners to convert a portion of their accumulated equity into cash. The amount of the mortgage amount then becomes a lien on the residence. Three recent cases in the Philadelphia area have revealed a hidden trap for couples where only one spouses is named as mortgagor. When that spouse dies, the bank that provided the cash can foreclose on the reverse mortgage and take back the house.

Understanding Pennsylvania's installment land sales contract law

Many people in Pennsylvania who want to buy a house cannot qualify for a bank loan secured by a mortgage. In such circumstances, these buyers frequently enter into an installment land contract with the seller. Such an agreement can offer a path to home ownership that may be closed by financial circumstance, but such contracts also have an element of risk that should be understood by anyone considering signing such an agreement.

What is a title examination?

Real property is immovable: the land remains in the same place more or less forever. But it may have changed hands many times. In Pennsylvania, as in virtually every other state, the sale of land can be a very formal transaction, comprising a deed, a loan, a mortgage, and various warranties about the physical condition of the land. Unfortunately for the buyer, none of these documents provides any guarantees that the seller actually owns the land and has the right to sell it.

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