There are many different types of legal documents needed before a property can be transferred from one party to another. Generally speaking, a form must be filed for each step in the buying process, creating a mountain of paperwork by the time the buyer completes the final signing over of the deed.
Here are the most common legal documents involved in buying a house:
- Purchasing agreement. This document clearly lists the basic terms and conditions of the transaction, and must include each party’s name and address, the purchase price, the down payment amount, the condition of the property, what is (and is not) included in the sale, the closing and possession dates, and how long the offer is valid.
- Property disclosure. Under Florida law, the seller is required to present you with a disclosure form detailing all known defects of the property. These can include items that need repair, past work that has been done to or done on the property, lead-based paint disclosure (for pre-1978 homes), and any existing legal actions or outstanding debts involving the property.
- Deed. This is the official form of ownership transferring the property from the seller to the buyer. A copy of the deed is given to the county recorder to prove that you are now the legal owner.
- Bill of sale. This document lists the property and all accompanying items that are being transferred (such as appliances, security systems, satellite dishes, and other additions to the real estate deal).
- Seller’s affidavit. This is a sworn statement from the seller attesting that he owns the property, and therefore has a right to sell it. It should also include any known title defects, such as leases or work that is being done on the property that could potentially lead to future liens or boundary line disputes.
- Buyer/seller settlement statement. This document outlines all of the financial transfers between the seller and buyer. Common listings include the purchase price (including the amount of down payment), brokers’ commissions, transfer tax payments, title insurance, escrow fees, surveyor’s fees, and county recorder’s fees.
It should be noted that these documents are only the tip of the iceberg. There will likely also be insurance forms, inspection reports, tax documents, and financing paperwork—and there could be additional filings if problems arise before the transaction is final.
Before you buy a house in Sarasota, Naples, or another Florida city, click the contact link on this page to get your documents reviewed at Blackwell, Vishio & Fisher, PLLC. We can help you spot problems and financial liability before you commit to buy.