What Consumers Need to Know When Buying Real Estate in Alabama

Don’t Be Afraid–Be Aware

Representation

First and foremost the consumer needs to know for sure that they have a qualified Realtor® to represent them whether they are buying or selling. Don’t take this relationship for granted; know for certain. Agency relationships that establish representation cannot be assumed or implied. They must be in writing. Let me explain a few reasons why the consumer needs to be represented by someone.

First, buying and selling real estate is very technical in the sense that certain processes must be completed and in a particular order. Buying and selling real estate is also very legalistic. Most real estate transactions close without any major complications either prior to, or after closing. It is the exceptions to that rule when the consumer finds out just how technical and legalistic real estate sales can be. After- market conflicts are seldom settled between buyers and sellers. Tempers flare, distrust and disbelief sets in, accusations are made toward everyone involved in the transaction. Finally law suits are filed to settle the dispute.

Law suits create a need for both parties to hire legal counsel. In preparation of the case it is determined that you the consumer, was not represented by the Realtor® that you worked with. At the time you began looking at homes you didn’t want to sign any type of contractual agreements. In this situation, according to Alabama law, the Realtor® was working as a Transaction Broker and was limited to the duties they could perform for you. A Transaction Broker is a licensee who assists one or more parties in a contemplated real estate transaction without being an agent or fiduciary or advocate for the interest of that party to a transaction. In order to have been represented in Alabama you would have had to sign a Single Agency Agreement with a brokerage firm. Remember, agency relationships can’t be assumed or implied. They must be in writing. After the fact is a bad time to learn that your best interest was not represented when you made the largest investment of a life-time.

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Proven Health & Safety Issues

Pay Attention to Warnings

When buying real estate, health and safety issues are a major concern. Under Agency law that exists in Alabama, many agents prefer working with buyers of real estate as a Transaction Broker rather than a Single Agent in an attempt to lessen their liability. Without realizing it, they are actually increasing their liability but that’s a discussion for another day. In Alabama, the seller is not forced by law to disclose information to a potential buyer unless Health and Safety issues exist and then federal law trumps in and mandates all Health and Safety issues must be disclosed to any potential buyer. You can easily see how agents might quickly justify disclosing a particular issue claiming it to deal with one’s health or safety. Some of those claims will not hold up in a court of law and that could bring on additional problems for the agent and for the consumer.

Today I want to discuss some of the health and safety issues that have been confirmed and are accepted nationally as health and safety issues. Due to the difficulty of the rule-making process (which is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act), OSHA has focused on basic mechanical and chemical hazards rather than procedures. Major areas which its standards currently cover are: Toxic substances, harmful physical agents, electrical hazards, fall hazards, hazards associated with trenches and digging, hazardous waste, infectious disease, fire and explosion dangers, dangerous atmospheres, machine hazards, and confined spaces. Let’s look at them individually and define them so we can understand what they are.

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What Consumer’s Need To Know

Questions Need Answering

This information is specific to what consumer’s need to know when buying or selling real estate in Alabama. Even more specifically, what consumers need to know when working with a real estate broker? Especially since Alabama is a Caveat Emptor state which places total responsibility on the buyer to do their due diligence in inspecting every aspect involved with a property prior to closing on a sale.

For years the seller has known who represents him when selling real estate but who represents the buyer? Who looks out for the buyers best financial interests? Some agents think the liability is too great when representing a buyer, largely due to the Caveat Emptor law; therefore they want to assist the buyer as a transaction broker to limit their liability. That being the case, many times, the poor buyer is left to fend for themselves without being told what they need to do prior to closing so they can protect their legal recourse options. The State of Alabama understands the precarious situation the buyer  is in when buying in Alabama so they provide

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