Buyer Advisory - Buying Home in Arizona
17 COMMON DOCUMENTS A BUYER SHOULD REVIEW - AZ MARICOPA COUNTY
- Purchase Contract. Buyers should protect themselves by taking the time to read the real estate purchase contract and understand their legal rights and obligations before they submit an offer to buy a property. (Click here for AAR Sample Residential Resale Purchase Contract)
- MLS Printout. A listing is a contractual agreement between the seller and the listing broker and may authorize the broker to submit information to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS printout is similar to an advertisement. Neither the listing agreement nor the printout is a part of the purchase contract between the buyer and seller. The information in the MLS printout was probably secured from the seller, the builder, or a governmental agency, and could be inaccurate, incomplete or an approximation. Therefore, the buyer should verify any important information contained in the MLS.
- The Subdivision Disclosure Report (Public Report) A Subdivision Disclosure Report (Public Report) is intended to point out material information about a subdivision. Subdividers (any person who offers for sale or lease six or more lots in a subdivision or who causes the land to be divided into a subdivision) are required to give buyers a Public Report. Read the Public Report before signing any contract to purchase property in a subdivision. Although some of the information may become outdated, subsequent buyers can also benefit from reviewing the Public Report. Public Reports dating from January 1, 1997, are available on the Arizona Department of Real Estate (AZRE) website. AZRE does not verify the information in the Public Report. Therefore, the Report could be inaccurate so it should be verified by the buyer. (AZRE Search Developments)
- Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS). Most sellers provide a SPDS. This document poses a variety of questions for the seller to answer about the property and its condition. The real estate broker is not responsible for verifying the accuracy of the items on the SPDS; therefore, a buyer should carefully review the SPDS and verify those statements of concern. (Click here for AAR Sample SPDS)
- Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions(CC&Rs). The CC&Rs are recorded against the property and generally empower a homeowner’s association to control certain aspects of property use within the development. By purchasing a property in such a development, the buyer agrees to be bound by the CC&Rs. The association, the property owners as a whole, and individual property owners can enforce the CC&Rs. It is essential that the buyer review and agree to these restrictions prior to purchasing a property. (Click here to read AZRE Property Buyer's Checklist)
- Homeowners Association (HOA) Governing Documents. In addition to CC&Rs, HOAs may be governed by Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Rules, and Regulations, and often architectural control standards. Read and understand these documents. Also, be aware that some HOAs impose fees that must be paid when the property is sold, so ask if the purchase of the property will result in any fees. Condominium and planned community HOAs are regulated by Arizona statutes. They are not under the jurisdiction of the Department of Real Estate (AZRE). Nonetheless, the Arizona’s Homeowner's Association Dispute Process is administered by the AZRE.
(Click here for AZRE HOA Information)
- HOA Disclosures. If purchasing a resale home in a condominium or planned community, the seller (if fewer than 50 units in the community) or the HOA (if there are 50 or more units) must provide the buyer with a disclosure containing a variety of information.
- Community Facilities District. The Arizona Community Facilities District Act allows for the formation of a community facilities district (CFD) by a municipality or county for the purpose of constructing or acquiring a public infrastructure. It is important when purchasing property to determine whether it falls within the boundaries of a CFD as this may result in an additional tax burden upon the owner. While the presence of a CFD may be noted on the Residential Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement, prospective buyers can further investigate the issue by contacting the treasurer’s office or assessor’s office for the county in which the property is located.
- Title Report or Title Commitment. The title report or commitment contains important information and is provided to the buyer by the title/escrow company or agent. This report or commitment lists documents that are exceptions to the title insurance (Schedule B Exceptions). Schedule B Exceptions may include encumbrances, easements, and liens against the property, some of which may affect the use of the property, such as a future addition or swimming pool. Make sure you receive and review all of the listed documents. Questions about the title commitment and Schedule B documents may be answered by the title or escrow officer, legal counsel, or a surveyor.
- Loan Information and Documents. Unless a buyer is paying cash, the buyer must qualify for a loan in order to complete the purchase. A buyer should complete a loan application with a lender before making an offer on a property if at all possible and, if not, immediately after making an offer. It will be the buyer’s responsibility to deposit any down payment and ensure that the buyer’s lender deposits the remainder of the purchase price into escrow prior to the close of escrow date. Therefore, make sure you get all requested documentation to your lender as soon as possible. (Click here to get Your Home Loan Toolkit)
- Home Warranty Policy. A home warranty [policy] is a service contract that typically covers the repair and/or replacement costs of home appliances and major systems such as heating, cooling, plumbing, and possibly other components of a home that fail due to normal usage and age. Coverage varies depending on the policy. Be aware that pre-existing property conditions are generally not covered. A home warranty may be part of the sale of the home. If so, buyers should thoroughly read the home warranty contract to understand coverage, limitations, exclusions, and costs associated with the policy.
- Affidavit of Disclosure. If the buyer is purchasing five or fewer parcels of land (whether improved or vacant), other than subdivided land, in an unincorporated area of a county, the seller must furnish the buyer with an Affidavit of Disclosure.
(Click here for AAR Sample Affidavit of Disclosure)
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Form. If the home was built prior to 1978, the seller must provide the buyer with a lead-based paint disclosure form. Buyer is further advised to use certified contractors to perform renovation, repair or painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in residential properties built before 1978 and to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.
- Professional Inspection Report. The importance of having a property inspected by a professional inspector cannot be over-emphasized. An inspection is a visual physical examination, performed for a fee, designed to identify material defects in the property. The inspector will generally provide the buyer with a report detailing information about the property’s condition. The buyer should carefully review this report with the inspector and ask the inspector about any item of concern. Pay attention to the scope of the inspection and any portions of the property excluded from the inspection.
- County Assessors/Tax Records. The county assessor’s records contain a variety of valuable information, including the assessed value of the property for tax purposes and some of the physical aspects of the property, such as the reported square footage. The date built information in the assessor’s records can be either the actual or effective/weighted age if the residence has been remodeled. All information on the site should be verified for accuracy. (Click here to check parcel/address at Maricopa County Assessor's Office)
- Termites and Other Wood Destroying Insects and Organisms. Termites and other wood destroying insects are commonly found in some parts of Arizona. General guidance, inspection report information and the ability to search a property for past termite treatments may be found on the Arizona Department of Agriculture website: https://agriculture.az.gov/pestspest-control/termites (AZDA-Termite Information).
- Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA). Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) may impact the purchase of property if the legal owner(s) of the property are foreign persons or nonresident aliens pursuant to FIRPTA. If so, consult a tax advisor as mandatory withholding may apply.