Homebuying in 2022: Rights Every Homebuyer Must Exercise

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Home sales are still hot this year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 6.5 million homes were sold in January alone. This is 6.7 percent more than the units sold in December 2021 and 2.3 percent more than the units sold in January 2021. In January, the median price of a home was $350,300, an increase of 15.4 percent over the same period last year. Housing inventory in January was enough for 1.6 months, a decrease compared to 1.9 months in January 2021. With housing inventory tight, prices will most probably continue to increase.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates are rising, as well. According to NerdWallet, as of February 17, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage exceeded four percent for the first time since 2019, at 4.01 percent APR. This was an increase of 17 points from the previous week. The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 3.19 percent APR, a rise of 20 points from the prior week. From the previous week, an increase of four points was recorded, setting the average five-year adjustable-rate mortgage at 3.15 percent APR.

As of February 23, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased further to 4.024 percent APR. The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also increased further to 3.209 percent APR. The average five-year adjustable-rate mortgage, however, decreased to 3.14 percent APR.

People who are planning to purchase a house will benefit from pinning down a mortgage before the rates go even higher and before home prices rise some more. However, it is crucial to be well-versed in the rights of a property buyer. It is also necessary for the buyer to hire a trustworthy and experienced realtor who will guide them properly through the entire process.

Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discriminatory practices from real estate companies, lending institutions, insurance companies, municipalities, and other entities that hinder people from availing of housing due to national origin, race or color, sex or gender identification, familial status, religion, or disability.

People with disabilities, or family members with disabilities, must know that the Act has required all new multi-family homes with not less than four units ready for the first occupancy on March 14, 1991, to have accessibility features for the disabled. These include a route accessible by wheelchair or other walking assistance equipment to an accessible main entrance and to each unit entrance, and doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs. Areas for common use must be fully accessible. Units must be fully maneuverable for wheelchairs. Bathrooms must be ready to accommodate the installation of grab bars and other safety features. Light switches, thermostats, and electrical outlets must be accessible from a wheelchair.

People who experience discrimination in housing can sue in a federal or state court. Alternatively, a complaint can be filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD], which can refer the case to the Department of Justice.

home buyers checking house

Other Rights of the Homebuyer

The homebuyer is free to choose a broker, appraiser, mortgage lender, and home inspector. It is best to do due diligence in research and compare rates as well as feedback from previous clients.

The buyer must get copies of all documents related to the purchase. It is best to have these inspected and explained by a lawyer before committing to anything.

The homebuyer has the right to information about the property title and any liens or other encumbrances attached to it. Likewise, the buyer has the right to tax information related to the property for the past years.

A professional inspection of the property is a must and is the homebuyer’s right. This will ensure that the property has no structural defects and other problems, including life-threatening issues such as faulty electrical wiring and mold.

Usually, when problems are uncovered, the potential buyer and the seller will come to an agreement for the seller to fix the issues first. The homebuyer then has the right to do a final inspection of the house with the same professional inspector to ensure that all the problems have been properly addressed.

Some homebuyers forego house inspection to get ahead of other buyers in the highly competitive market. This is very risky because the buyer will not know how far any problems go or how much is needed to fix them. Even if the buyer intends to purchase the house as-is, it is still necessary to do a house inspection to be prepared for any needed renovations.

In certain states, homebuyers must have a real estate attorney attending the closing of a sale. The states that require this are New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, Delaware, West Virginia, and South Carolina. Homebuyers must also inquire with their own state and locality for additional legal requirements.

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