Residential Real Estate Attorneys in Fargo

Fremstad Law offers clients the benefit of decades of real estate experience in North Dakota and Minnesota, including residential real estate. For most people, buying or selling a home is the largest financial transaction in which they will ever take part. Furthermore, a home is an investment with personal, as well as financial, significance. It is important for both buyers and sellers to have the guidance of an experienced residential real estate attorney, especially when it comes to a for sale by owner contract.

Fremstad Law works with buyers and sellers of real estate to negotiate residential real estate transactions and ensure that documents are clear regarding each party’s rights and responsibilities. Clear communication and drafting is essential to avoiding confusion which can lead to conflict. However, should a residential real estate dispute arise, we are experienced litigators equipped to defend our clients’ interests in court.

Legal Representation for Sellers with a “For Sale by Owner” Contract

“For sale by owner” (FSBO) transactions are those in which the seller of residential real estate is not represented by a real estate agent. These transactions are attractive to sellers for a few reasons. The primary reason is that FSBO real estate deals eliminate the need to pay a listing agent’s commission, which can be up to 6% of the sale price of the property. The listing agent typically splits this commission with the buyer’s real estate agent. For instance, on a home that sold for $300,000, a seller could save up to 6%, or $18,000; even if the seller paid the buyer’s agent their usual commission, not having to pay a fee to a seller’s agent would still save $9,000.

Another reason that FSBO transactions appeal to sellers is that these deals give them greater control. The seller sets the price, does all the marketing, and determines when the house will be available for potential buyers to view. If the seller wants to go on vacation, or simply has a particularly busy week, he or she can pull the house off the market and put it back on at their convenience. And while a real estate agent may have many clients, a seller of a property that is for sale by owner can devote more resources and time into marketing that single property.

However, there are also potential pitfalls in listing residential real estate for sale by owner. While real estate agents are typically not attorneys and cannot give legal advice, they can at least alert you to legal issues that could merit an attorney’s involvement. These include:

  • Easements on the property
  • Sellers’ disclosures regarding the real estate required by North Dakota or Minnesota law
  • Potential liability for errors or omissions in the sale process

Without an agent to suggest that you need legal advice, are you confident that you can identify and resolve any legal issues on your own? Most buyers are not, and the cost of making a mistake often far exceeds the expense of competent legal advice

In addition, an attorney’s help is invaluable in negotiating favorable terms in the purchase contract, ensuring that your interests are protected and that the for sale by owner contract addresses all your needs. This is especially true if the buyer has a real estate agent or attorney, placing you at a severe disadvantage if you are unrepresented.

The experienced residential real estate attorneys of Fremstad Law work closely with sellers in FSBO transactions. We help you maximize your rights and understand all of your obligations in the sale of their property.

Legal Concerns for Buyers in FSBO Residential Real Estate Transactions

Sellers are not the only ones who should have legal representation in a “for sale by owner” transaction. If you are purchasing a property that is for sale by owner, you need to ensure that your rights are protected, especially if you need to back out of the transaction for some reason.

Buyers should have an attorney’s help in preparing an offer to purchase, including all necessary contingencies. A contingency provides you with the ability to terminate the deal if a certain condition is not met. Common contingencies include:

  • The ability of the buyer to secure appropriate financing
  • A satisfactory inspection of the property and satisfactory repair of any defects identified by the inspection
  • Securing an appraisal that confirms that the home’s value is at or above the purchase price

In addition to the factors above, it is almost always helpful to have an attorney with you at your closing. Often, parties to a real estate transaction must review several complex documents in a short period of time; an attorney can ensure that you understand your rights and obligations. Also, last minute problems can arise that may require, for example, an attorney’s help preparing an escrow agreement. Whether you are the buyer or seller of residential real estate, you are at a disadvantage if the other party to a transaction has legal representation and you do not.

The attorneys at Fremstad Law are here to move you forward, ensure that your FSBO transaction goes smoothly, and protect your interests. If you have questions, contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation and see how we can help.