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By David deForrest General Managerreal estate miami beach, miami beach real estate, realtor miami beach, miami beach realty, miami beach investment, miami beach propertydf.jpg (8763 bytes)

When purchasing a condo directly from owner, what would be the best procedure?  Could this be done without a lawyer and just getting a title search?  How does the money exchange hands?

The short answer would be, look in the Yellow Pages for a title company. They  can handle the money and prepare the documents required for a sale and transfer.

But this is actually an interesting question the deeper you look into it. There  is a better answer: each of the parties ought to engage the services of a  competent real estate broker and a real estate attorney. Assuming that Buyer and  Seller are carrying on an arm's-length transaction (that is, that they are not  related) both would benefit from professional help. This is the "gold standard"  and, yes, it has some costs.

It is not through the charity of Sellers that Realtors are able to obtain  commissions on so enormous a preponderance of real property transactions.  Contrary to the popular misconception, we earn our keep. Since you are a Buyer,  let's look at things from the point of view of the Seller first. For example,  Mr. Seller may not be getting the best possible offer for his property. Surely  he would be wise, no matter how generous you have been with him, to expose his  property as widely as possible to the greatest possible number of potential  buyers rather than limiting himself to individuals, such as yourself, who are  even willing to attempt to deal with the intricacies of handling the transaction  unaided. After all, you would have to acknowledge that many potential buyers  would balk at carrying the proposed transaction through on the basis you  describe. Often they are the ones who will pay the highest price in the market,  that is, the least sophisticated and most motivated buyers. In our business, we  often find that "For Sale By Owner" works out to be "For Sale To Bottom  Feeders." This is not meant to offend you, it's just true that buyers for "By  Owner" properties are seeking a super-bargain, that's why they are willing to  deal direct with the Seller without the reassurance and (in many cases  beneficial) "goading" of a Broker.

But assuming the Seller has found a fair and equitable price in your offer, the  next problem, for both parties, is, "How do I make it stick?" We've all heard of  "buyer's remorse." As soon as Mr. Seller has agreed to Buyer's price, Mr. Buyer  can't help but wonder, "Maybe I could do better?" And, of course, Mr. Seller may  well find that now that someone has agreed to pay a specific price for the  property, some other potential buyer is now willing to "top" that price since  another buyer has validated it in his mind.

There is no legal requirement in Florida that a sales contract even exist for  the sale of a property to go forward. However, unless the terms of the sale are  in written form, they cannot be enforced! That is, at any time, for any reason,  either party could simply change his mind and walk away from the deal. Don't  think that this does not happen frequently. If you were selling your home, for  example, and you made arrangements to vacate it, maybe even purchased another  property, your losses could be substantial if at the last minute Mr. Buyer tells  you he found a better deal somewhere else and adios. The same is true for the  Buyer...you'd hate to pay for physical inspections, title examination (if you  bother) etc., and then find out later on that someone else has purchased "your" property and that you have no recourse at all. One of the advantages of using a  Realtor is that he/she is competent to prepare a binding agreement between the  parties.

Moreover, although there are local (and they vary by county in this state)  standards for who "normally" pays which expenses of the sale, such as  documentary stamps on the deed, intangible tax on the mortgage, how the  prorations are handled on property taxes etc., there is no law about it. These  matters can add up to thousands of dollars and, without a formal contract, can  be the subject of disputes and lost deals at closing.

Then there are the technical aspects of securing "marketable" title: title  search, examination, disclosure and discharge of any liens and preparation and  recording of the deed and any corrective instruments. None of this is required  by law in order for Seller to grant a deed to you. All that is required is that  he be of sound mind, legal age and give you a deed notarized and witnessed. But  it is obvious that this, in itself is insufficient for your peace of mind and  the protection of your investment. This work can only be performed properly by a  competent real estate attorney.

So your question could, I suppose, be rephrased as "How can Buyer and Seller  avoid paying for any and all professional services in connection with the  purchase and sale of real property?" The answer is: you can easily dispense with  all of them but the further you depart from the "gold standard" the greater the  risks to one or both of you.

In proof of which, I can only add that I have managed this brokerage for 6 years  and have been an active real estate investor here for 12. However, whenever I  buy a piece of property myself, I use a real estate attorney to close my  transactions even though I am surely more competent to handle these matters than  "Mr. Buyer" and "Mr. Seller". Moreover, when I had a property for sale outside  of our local market area a few years back, I hired a Realtor to sell it for me  even though I was managing the property myself and was available to show it "By  Owner." So whether you agree with my arguments above or not, I can only tell you  that they are not based on some kind of self-interest (I have no reason to believe that this particular property is located anywhere in our market area) but because I think the Seller is being foolish in how he is handling the transaction and that indeed you would both benefit  rather than lose from hiring competent, professional help.



Unless otherwise stated square footage and lot dimensions appearing herein are derived from county records and may or may not be accurate.
If square footage is material to a transaction a survey or other measurement is recommended. This information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Current or previous year’s taxes may not accurately forecast future property taxes. Property taxes can increase from one year to the next for various reasons.

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