What Real Estate Buyers Should Know About Their Rights

When you begin the process of buying a home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by unfamiliar jargon and confusing fine print. The process of purchasing real estate has become more complicated than ever, largely as a result of tightened regulations on lending and the complexity of the purchase agreement. California law does protect real estate buyers from numerous potential complications, but it’s your responsibility to make yourself aware of these rights at every stage of the process.

You have the right to choose all of the professionals who will aid in your transaction. From the time you choose your real estate agent, you are in charge of your home purchase. In addition to choosing your agent, you also have the right to choose your own homeowner’s insurance agent, home inspector, real estate attorney, and any other professional who assists in the purchase of your home. Your agent may recommend a particular person or company, but you are under no obligation to work with anyone you do not personally choose. Be aware that sometimes the selection of what are termed “affiliated services” are negotiation points – you may have the right to select services, but sometimes the seller will be willing to pay for those services only if you use their provider. Make sure that you are aware of the quality of service and reputation of each provider you use.

You have the right to know about the relationship between your agent and the sellers of the home. Your agent must tell you if he or she is also representing the sellers of the home (this is called a “dual agent”) or if he or she has any other affiliation with them. All of this will be spelled out for you in the agency disclosures you will be given at the start of any transaction – please read them carefully.

You have the right to a full explanation of all documents that you sign. You are never required to sign any documents that have not been fully explained to your satisfaction, nor should you. At any time during your home purchase, you have the right to request further explanation or ask questions about any document presented to you. You may also consult with your own real estate attorney at any point during the home purchase process. Many disgruntled principals say, after the fact, “they just put the document in front of me and asked me to sign.” It is your responsibility to read and understand what you are signing; don’t shirk that responsibility.

You have the right to walk away from the transaction. During the escrow period, you can walk away from the home purchase if it is in your best interest to do so and under the parameters set forth in the purchase agreement, which primarily require that a cancellation be permitted under the contract contingencies and in “good faith.” However, if you have any doubts about the circumstances of your cancellation, you should consult with your real estate attorney about possible legal or monetary consequences before abandoning a transaction.

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