What You Need to Know About Real Estate Law

Real estate law, also referred to as real property law, includes both federal and state legislation on the ownership and usage of property. The more informed you are of your rights, the better prepared you’ll be to be involved in a real estate transaction. Here are relevant federal laws that apply to both buyers and sellers in every state:

Mortgage Acts and Practices- Advertising Rule

Prohibits deceptive claims being advertised by mortgage lenders, including: consumer ability of obtaining a refinancing or modification of a mortgage, the amount of fees the consumer will have to pay, and the variability of interest or payments. See: 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act.

Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act

If a home was built before 1978, real estate professionals must obtain information from the seller regarding the presence of lead-based paint in the home, disclose this to the buyer, and provide them with information about the dangers of lead-based paint. See: “The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992,” Public Law No. 102-550.

Fair Housing Act

Prohibits discrimination in any housing-related transaction based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, familial status, pregnant women, those securing custody of children under 18, and disability. See: “Civil Rights Act of 1968,” Public Law 88-352.

National Flood Insurance Program

The federal government makes flood insurance available to homeowners in flood hazard areas. In order to receive individual flood relief funds, it is mandatory to have purchased flood insurance. See: “National Flood Insurance Act of 1968,” Public Law No. 90-448.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

Homeowners are permitted to reduce their federally taxable income by how much interest paid on their mortgage. This applies to home loans of less than $1 million or home equity loans of less than $100,000. See: 26 U.S.C. § 163(h) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

Consumers are allowed to receive one free copy of their credit report per year from a credit reporting agency. A 2003 amendment also adds privacy requirements regarding the disposal of any copies of consumer credit reports in order to protect against identity theft. See: “The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970,” Public Law No. 91-508.

Truth in Lending Act

Requires lenders to disclose loan terms to consumers in language they can understand. Also gives consumers the right to cancel and resolve disputes regarding mortgage transactions under a certain period of time. See: “Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968,” Public Law No. 90-321.

Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act

Places compensation restrictions on mortgage lenders in order to curb manipulative loans. Lenders are also required to consider a borrower’s ability to repay during the underwriting process. See: “The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,” Public Law No. 111-203.

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