Why All The Fuss Over Real Estate Transactions?

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Why doesn't real estate just sell for the asking price instead of having to go thru all the paper work...? Wouldn't it be easier to just put a price on it and sell it for that price? We don't go thru all of that when purchasing cars or anything else. Where did this practice start?

This practice started millennia ago. The practice of buying stuff off the shelf at the marked price is the recent practice. Only when stores started selling so much they couldn't haggle over price was that practice invented. It's easy, but it's not suitable for transactions larger than the utterly routine. If Supermarket A has better prices than Supermarket B, people will tend to drift there over time - unless B has different merchandise A doesn't carry. This is the model for a couple of major chains. But every parcel of real estate is different from every other.

Land is important, it is immovable, they are not making any more, and it is uniquely identifiable by location. It is used as a basis for taxation, and social status. Not too long ago, the vast majority of the population worked by farming land. It's big enough, and expensive enough, to be worth extended negotiations, as even small percentage differences will be a large amount of money by the standards of any other transaction.

Precisely how much land goes with a parcel, and precisely what the boundaries and limitations are, is critically important. Taking just a few square feet away can mean that it cannot be used for a given purpose. Rights of easement are important to everybody served by that easement. Wars have been fought over simply the right to pass over a piece of land. Zoning disclosures are a real issue with at least twenty percent of all properties, as well as any number of other issues about the condition, permitted uses, boundaries, and appurtenances.

Because of its importance, its permanence, and its value, there has been a lot of fraud committed over land, therefore the systems of title and escrow. Misrepresentations and just keeping silent about very salient defects can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, so people do that (or try it) regularly. Add that to the fact that land is taxed by most governments, and you have all the reason needed for public records systems.

Because of its permanent and immovable nature, lenders will loan money secured by land on better terms than anything else. But since a fair number of people over the years have gotten money for land they don't own, or gotten more money for land than it is worth, the lenders have instituted safeguards such as the appraisal, inspection, and lenders title insurance. It still happens, by the way. Just before I wrote this, I looked a a property in a fantastic location, but really old and badly run down. By the market, I'd say it was maybe worth $600,000 - but the owners convinced someone to loan them $1.8 million dollars on it.

Every part of the process has a reason it is there. There is no need for anyone who is not a professional to learn them, but the reason those professionals exist is so that you don't have to know what they know - and that runs true for everyone from the escrow officer to the title officer to the agent, and trying to shortcut the process is a recipe for disaster. Nor is it pure information, in a lot of those cases, but experience and knowledge and judgment acquired over time, and the one that most people misss: how to put it in context. Just ask the people who got burned, and whose cases are the reasons for all that paperwork and hassle you have to go through to buy or sell a property. And people still get burned today. Most often, it's the people who try to shortcut the process to save a few dollars. "You don't need that appraisal! You're paying cash!" "You don't need that inspection! Solid as a rock!" "You don't need an agent! Trust me!"

There are good solid reasons why you don't want to cut any corners, and why you want a professional working for you every step of the way. Proper disclosure will save you from lawsuits most people wouldn't believe. Proper investigation will stop you from walking in to the problem in the first place, or at least get you some serious concessions if you have a good buyer's agent on your side. And if they fail to do their job properly, it gives you the right to go after their insurance and their broker's bond. This is all critically important. Professions such as real estate and all the allied professions exist for your protection, If they fail to protect you from the things they are supposed to guard against, then it is only moral that you be indemnified for that failure.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on February 21, 2014 7:00 AM.

Deficiency Judgments: Recourse Loans vs. Non-Recourse Loans was the previous entry in this blog.

Lenders and Insurance Proceeds is the next entry in this blog.

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