The South Carolina real estate market is hot; home appreciation has been 6.9% in the past 10 years. If you are ready to sell, you can feel confident that there will be a great buyers’ market thanks to the popularity of this state.
However, no matter, if you are buying or selling, knowing the basics of South Carolina real estate law is essential.
It is worth mentioning that the law can be confusing and complex. If you do not work in this arena daily, you may not know all the factors that apply to your situation.
While working with an experienced real estate attorney is highly recommended, it is also wise to learn as much as possible about the law and process as possible.
Here you can learn more about what you need to know to ensure any home buying or selling process is handled properly.
What Are the Seller Disclosure Requirements?
When selling a home in South Carolina, it is important to know the disclosure requirements. This is also important information for anyone buying a home in South Carolina.
Sellers must provide buyers with a disclosure form, including the seller’s knowledge of certain property details. Some of the information that must be included on this form includes the following:
- Information on the sewage system and the existing water source
- Legal issues like building codes, zoning restrictions, and participation in HOAs (homeowner associations)
- Structure issues (i.e., problems with the walls, roof, foundation, etc.)
- Environmental issues like the presence of radon gas, asbestos, or termites
- Mechanical system defects (i.e., issues with cooling, heating, electrical, plumbing, etc.)
The exception to this is if both parties agree to forego the disclosure form.
Why Buyers Should Care About Seller Disclosures
The laws about real estate are designed to protect those buying or selling a property.
Buyers must ensure they receive the seller disclosure form because you can’t always tell what issues are present by looking at a property.
The form will highlight any issues a seller had with the property while they lived there.
It is also necessary for any home built before 1978 to comply with the federal Title X disclosures. These address lead-based paint hazards.
Should You Invest in a Home Inspection before Buying a House?
As a home buyer, you should not rely exclusively on the seller disclosure form. It is recommended that you hire a home inspector to verify the information.
Another benefit of investing in an independent home inspection (even if the seller had one) is finding other defects or issues with the house.
Inspectors are trained to look at everything – the heating and plumbing systems, the foundation, and more.
Some South Carolina mortgage lenders require a “wood inspection.” This is done to determine if any wood-destroying pests infest the house. Examples include fungi and termites.
There are some situations where the seller can cover the cost of this report.
As a buyer, you have the right to make your offer to purchase a home contingent on the inspection report. This contingency will allow you to back out of the purchase without any penalties if defects are found.
You can also negotiate a lower price or have the seller correct the issues before moving forward with the purchase.
What Is the Real Estate Purchase Agreement?
When it comes to real estate law in South Carolina, you must also understand the role of the purchase agreement.
This legal document includes the material conditions and terms of the transaction.
It must be in writing and signed by the buyer and seller. Other information included on the real estate purchase agreement includes the following:
- An offer to buy or sell
- An acceptance of the above offer
- The actual sale price
- A detailed and accurate description of the property
You can get this document online or from an attorney. Most buyers will fill this out and give it to the seller as the purchase offer.
How Can You Deal with Title Issues?
The law in South Carolina requires buyers to hire an attorney and conduct a title search before a house is purchased. This search is done to find public records and other sources of easements, liens, and other issues or title restrictions.
If issues are found with the title, the buyer should require a seller to correct them before closing on the purchase. This is important to avoid issues down the road.
Most mortgage companies will require a buyer to purchase title insurance. This is typically a condition for funding the loan.
The insurance will protect the title to the property against any adverse claims by a third party or any issues missed during the title search.
Even if your mortgage company does not require the purchase of title insurance, it is a smart investment. Protecting yourself is always recommended when making a large investment.
Should You Hire a Real Estate Law Firm for Help?
It does not matter if you are buying or selling a house or property, hiring a real estate law firm is highly recommended.
The attorney you hire can ensure you know all potential issues. They can also work with the seller to resolve the problems all while protecting your interests in the transaction.
If you are planning to purchase or sell a property in South Carolina, the McGrath Law Firm is ready to help. You can contact our office at (843) 606-2755 to learn more about how we can help with your real estate transaction.