You are here:

Buying or Selling a Home/Buying directly from owner


QUESTION: Hello, My wife and I found a home that we liked and the owners told us they were planning on selling it themselves.  The home and acreage,location all fit our needs. We are ignorant to the precautions we should be aware of when purchasing a home directly from an owner. The people seem like nice couple, they have been on this 5 acres for many years, and in fact they had owned a much bigger portion of it (30 acres)which has been sold and built upon.  She works for a local escrow company and would like to handle escrow herself also.

We really want the house, price is reasonable, and comparable, we can pay cash and would like advice on what would be the best way to proceed with this purchase.  Thank you for your time.  We are looking at house again on March 15.  Pat

ANSWER: Patrick,

First, I have to place a disclaimer, as I am a broker in California and Washington laws and practice may be very different.  It is always best to consult with a local professional.

Now that is out of the way, let me try to answer with some ideas and suggestions.

When it comes to purchasing any real estate there are some key actions to complete.

1.) Clear title.  The last thing anyone wants is to buy a property and then find out someone else has claim to it.  With the owner being an escrow officer, they should understand the need to not only document clear title through a preliminary title report, but to purchase a title insurance policy to protect you (and themselves)if someone were to come back and say that they have ownership to the property.

2.) What is exactly included.  Particularly with land, having a survey and being clear about the exact amount of land being transferred, its boundaries, and whether or not there are any easements or encroachments by other parties.

3.) One reason why agents and attorneys are paid for their services is to try to keep "drive way" agreements clear, written, and followed through on within the local ordinances and laws.  This means a written contract with price, terms, and conditions. An agreement also includes contingencies for the buyer to investigate the property in a certain period of time and cancel within a certain period of time with no loss of any deposits.

4.) Understanding value, will also be best supported by an appraisal. You should have the right to purchase an appraisal as part of your investigation.

5.) Last but not least, there should be documented disclosures required by the state, county, city incorporated into your knowledge about the property.  With more "rural" land, this could include information about wells, septic tanks, and general questions about the property and home's history of additions, or issues (i.e. sink holes, abandoned wells/minds etc).  This could also include inspections for pest, roof, chimney, and general home inspection.

Having a seller that works in the industry should make these ideas more acceptable as they are typical to any real estate transaction.  Even in family to family transfers, I have helped to write up agreements and facilitate the transaction.  You should consider consulting with a real estate attorney or local real estate broker to review the proposal.  

I hope this helps and comes to  you in a timely manner.
Good luck!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: CJ, thanks for speedy reply.  It will make a good road map to follow.  I do have a real estate person I could ask to assist us.  What should I expect to pay him for handling this?  Is there any benefit of using real estate broker vs real estate lawyer? The biggest benefit for us is that we know an agent (he sold a house to our daughter) and we do not know a lawyer for this purpose.  Would the cost of realtor/lawyer be added to sales price of house and paid by me (buyer)?  We will be looking at the house in about four hours and are prepared in every other way to make an offer.  Look forward to hearing back from you.  Pat


The agent will most likely charge a commission and assume in this case you will pay.  However, commission is negotiable and maybe you can negotiate lower for minimal services needed or split it with the seller.  If you have someone you know and trust, definitely at least consult with them about the plan.

Good luck!
I would love to hear how it turns out.

Thank you,

Buying or Selling a Home

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


CJ Brasiel, Broker Owner


I can provide information on the buying and selling of residential homes. I know the greater San Jose area well and specialize in local markets like Willow Glen, Blossom Hill, Santa Teresa, Rose Garden, Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, and downtown San Jose. I provide information to help buyers and sellers make the best decision. I believe in "concierge" style real estate and it is my passion to build my business one client at a time for a life time of trusted relationships. I do not handle commercial real estate.


I have bought and sold four homes in the San Jose area. I have been in the real estate business over 10 years and a broker for the last 3 years. I am the Broker Owner of Veridian Realty Group; a boutique brokerage based in Silicon Valley.



Bachelors Business Management Broker Associate Certified Distressed Property Expert Certified Senior Real Estate Agent Certified Green Real Estate Agent Certified Real Estate Negotiator

Past/Present Clients
I do not publish my clients names without permission.

©2017 All rights reserved.