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Des Moines Real Estate Attorney

Support for Selling Property by Owners

Transactions for the purchase and sale of real estate are heavily regulated by state and federal laws. Generally, real estate transactions are handled by licensed professionals, including agents who represent either the buyer or seller and brokers who help facilitate transactions.

In Iowa, many times six percent of the sale price goes to commissions—three percent for the seller’s agent and three percent for the buyer’s agent.

However, homeowners are not legally required to sell their home with an agent. Those who want to save by avoiding commission can choose to sell their house without the assistance of an agent—also known as “for-sale-by-owner” (FSBO) transactions.

FSBO transactions can save homeowners thousands of dollars by foregoing the commission to agents. However, the buyer’s agent, if any, could still be entitled to some type of commission.

The three percent commission that seller’s agents charge essentially pays for their expertise in performing marketing functions and their ability to comply with the complex patchwork of real estate regulations that apply to such transactions. In contrast, the responsibility for legal compliance rests on the homeowner in FSBO sales.

FSBO sellers must be responsible for the following:

  • Marketing the home to maximize their return on the sale
  • Staging the house for sale by cleaning, clearing clutter, and repairing defects
  • Tasks related to listing the home, including writing descriptions and posting photographs
  • Negotiating key terms of the purchase agreement, including conditions, concessions, and the final price
  • Complying with conditions within the purchase agreement
  • Handling required filings, disclosures, and paperwork under Iowa law

Failing to comply with applicable laws and regulations can lead to costly fines, liability for damages, and even criminal penalties in extreme situations.

If you are interested in performing a FSBO sale and want to make sure you are in compliance with all applicable requirements and duties under Iowa and federal law, you should consult with one of our experienced Des Moines real estate attorneys at the Hope Law Firm.

We offer the following services for FSBO sellers as a cost-effective alternative to using an agent:

  • Comprehensive legal advice on applicable laws
  • Reviewing, negotiating and/or drafting purchase agreements and disclosure statements
  • Reviewing and analyzing title opinions
  • Assisting in the ordering of proper lien payoffs
  • Checking for legal regulatory compliance at vital stages of the transaction

Residential & Commercial Transactions

  • Investigating title records for defects
  • Reviewing terms in purchase agreements
  • Evaluating the sufficiency of written disclosures
  • Reviewing landowner association Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs)
  • Advising on the legal implications of financing

Title Opinions

The rightful owner of real estate has “title” over the land—meaning that they have superior rights for the exclusive possession and use of the property.

Title for the property can be shown in different ways. A property deed is a legal document evidencing the transfer of title from one person to another. The deed is then recorded with the county recorder to show the chain of ownership over the land in question.

The resolution of conflicting title claims over land is subject to well-establish legal principles. When there are competing title claims, one claim typically loses due issues such as the owner’s liability or defects in transferring or recording title.

The party with inferior title could sustain a significant economic loss. Our real estate attorneys will examine the abstract for the real estate to investigated the chain of title associated with the property in question. We will then issue a title opinion letter to the property buyer, and potentially the buyer's lender, summarizing the results of our investigation. We will also work with Iowa Title Guaranty to secure a Title Certificate to cover any risk of loss.

As your title examiner, Hope Law Firm looks for issues that could impair a title claim, such as:

  • Defective deeds
  • Problems with recording title
  • Property liens
  • Tax liability
  • Settlement demands and judgments of liability
  • Outstanding loans and mortgages
  • Unpaid Homeowners Association dues or fees
  • Undisclosed heirs
  • Consequences of deceased titleholders

Landlord-Tenant Disputes

Leasing property is a significant part of our real estate system. Buying and owning land is beyond the financial abilities of many people, depending on their location. In landlord-tenant cases, both parties have certain rights and duties with respect to each other.

In Iowa, the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Law governs landlord-tenant matters for residential rental properties. Generally, landlords are obligated to deliver possession to tenants, according to the terms of a lease agreement. Tenants are generally obligated to pay rent and reasonably maintain the property.

Our dedicated attorneys at Hope Law Firm have experience representing the parties in both residential and commercial landlord-tenant disputes.

At Hope Law Firm, we have experience with the following landlord-tenant issues:

  • Rental agreement disputes
  • Landlord’s failure to deliver possession of the property
  • Tenant’s failure to pay rent
  • Landlord’s failure to supply essential services
  • Tenant’s failure to maintain the property
  • Landlord’s unlawful ouster, exclusion, or diminution of service
  • Tenant’s absence, nonuse, and abandonment of the property

Legal Issues Regarding Legal Duties to Disclose

Sellers are legally obligated to disclose essential issues about the property to the buyer. This is accomplished using a written disclosure statement. Under Iowa Code § 558A.4, disclosure statements “shall include information relating to the condition and important characteristics of the property and structures located on the property…”

Our legal team has handled various real estate disputes regarding the following disclosure matters:

  • Written disclosure statements
  • Bad faith claims
  • Independent home inspections
  • Defects in the structural integrity of a building
  • Zoning classifications
  • Plumbing conditions
  • Heating and cooling issues
  • Problems affecting electrical systems

Hope Law Firm’s Real Estate Lawyers in Des Moines Can Help You

If you are seeking the advice of an experienced licensed attorney about an issue arising out of Iowa real estate law, you should reach out to Hope Law Firm. Our Des Moines property attorneys have the experience and knowledge to protect your rights and advocate for you.

Please call us at (515) 298-5056 or contact our office online for a consultation about your real estate dispute.

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