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House Calls: Becoming Owner

Edith Lank on

Dear Edith: To settle a bet, I'd like to know: When exactly does homeownership transfer? Is it when the new deed is entered in the public records office? --

Answer: Way back when few people could read or write, the seller of land would pick up a clod of earth and hand it to the buyer, who would seize it and become owner of that land at that moment. The legal term "seizin" still means ownership.

Today, that clod of earth is replaced by the signed deed. While this may differ with escrow closings, in most areas you become owner at the moment the signed deed is physically handed to you.

Radon Test

Ms. Lank: Is a radon test included in a home inspector's report, or should it be? And should the home seller request a home-inspection engineer report before placing the property on the market? -- D. O.

Answer: In some areas, radon problems seldom exist and the standard home inspection does not usually include a test. It can be different elsewhere. You could ask the inspector directly whether a radon test is usually included.

As for your other question, there's no one right answer. Some sellers like to be prepared, and they assume the buyer will hire an inspector anyhow. If problems are taken care of in advance, or at least disclosed, negotiating a sales contract could go more smoothly.

Other sellers may prefer not to learn about defects they've never been aware of.

Looks like the answer to both of your questions is a firm maybe.

Received a 1099


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