Goodspeed: Read the Purchase and Sales agreement carefully


QUESTION: Are we responsible for paying back taxes on a condo from before we bought it? We bought a new condo earlier this year and were never told that we would have to pay the back taxes on the unit going back to 2018.

Apparently, the developer never paid the taxes at the time they were due and then when we bought it, we were told we had to pay them even though we did not own the unit at the time the taxes were assessed. Is this legal?

ANSWER: I have never heard of this situation before. Usually, when a person buys a house or a condo, either brand new from the owner/developer, or a re-sale, the seller pays all real estate taxes up to the date you, the buyer, take title of the property. Your real estate tax obligations then start at that point.

I am wondering if there may have been some sort of provision inserted into your sales contract requiring you to pay the back taxes on the property. Before you make any payments, you should read your Purchase and Sales contract and closing documents very carefully.

Hopefully, you have hired a real estate attorney to assist you with the purchase. If not, you should hire one as soon as possible.

Ask your attorney his/her opinion about the back taxes and what your options are. You could also ask the seller to provide you with a written explanation of why you are being required to pay the back taxes.

If you have already gone to closing and paid the back taxes, you may be able to make a claim against the title insurance company that insured you when you went to settlement. Ask your attorney about this possibility.

Question:I am looking to buy a condo in a brand new development. Do I need to get a home inspection on the property since it is brand new?

ANSWER: Yes, you should always make a satisfactory home inspection a contingency in any offer to purchase a home, whether it is a previously owned home or brand new construction.

Buying a home is probably the biggest investment you will make in your lifetime. Unless you are a professional engineer or contractor, you should hire one to check out the home for you. Is the roof sound? Is the wiring up to code and is the foundation sound? What about the heating and air conditioning? Are they in good working order? Are the appliances all working and properly installed?

A professional home inspector will scrutinize all the major systems in the home and report on their functionality and quality. Construction codes change. The quality of workmanship and materials can vary widely. Even in a brand new home, you should get a home inspection. It is money well spent.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: