Managing Partner Robert M. Steeg and Partner Randy Opotowsky were two of the legal experts that reporter Drew Hawkins interviewed to get some of their best tips for buying property in New Orleans in the Biz New Orleans article, “Keys to New Orleans Property: A Legal Handbook for Savvy Buyers.” As Rob notes, “it’s all about avoiding and addressing ‘pitfalls’ that could cost you time and money — as well as cause headaches.”

Below is an excerpt of the article, which you can continue reading on Biz New Orleans.

Keys to New Orleans Property

A legal handbook for savvy buyers

By Drew Hawkins

Buying property in New Orleans comes with challenges as unique as the city itself. With its eclectic mix of historic neighborhoods and architectural styles, buyers must navigate zoning regulations and historic preservation laws that can significantly impact property ownership — just to list a few considerations.

Though we’re just scratching the surface, we reached out to a few legal experts to get some of their best tips for buying property in the Big Easy.

For starters, the majority of property sales in Louisiana are “AS-IS” and without warranty. This means that you have no legal recourse for defects you find in the property after you purchase it unless you can prove that the seller lied and/or proactively concealed the condition from you during the sale process.

“This is an extremely difficult thing to prove, even when it is true,” said D. Alex Onstott, managing member at Ciolino Onstott. In other words, it is the buyer’s duty to fully inspect the property before purchasing it. It is not your agent’s duty, nor your home inspector’s duty.

“Those professionals are there to inform you, but are not a substitute for your own knowledge and research. It is your job to understand that information and to know what you are getting into,” Onstott said.

Ask as many questions as you can, use the internet to research anything about the home or the inspection that you do not understand, and consult with subject-matter experts. “It does cost a lot of extra time and money to properly inspect a house, but the cost is relatively small compared to the health, safety and comfort of your family, and compared to the purchase price of the property itself, of course,” Onstott said.

For Robert Steeg, managing partner at Steeg Law Firm, it’s all about avoiding and addressing “pitfalls” that could cost you time and money — as well as cause headaches.

“Check out the flood zone of the property and the availability and cost of insurance well in advance, so that you (the buyer) can back out of the purchase based on these factors,” Steeg said. “And make sure that the contract lets you back out of the purchase for ‘any reason’ affecting the ‘suitability’ of the property, so that it’s not just limited to physical condition and would include other matters such as insurance.”

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Filed under: Industry News, Residential Real Estate
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