You've Found The One! Now What?
Here are some common questions I get from prospective homebuyers after they've found their dream home!
What does a home inspector do, and how does an inspection figure in the
purchase of a home?
An inspector checks the safety of your potential new home. Home Inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will make you aware only of repairs that are needed.
The Inspector does not evaluate whether or not you're getting good value for your money. Generally, an inspector checks (and gives prices for repairs on): the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, the potential presence of pests, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof. Be sure to hire a home inspector who is qualified
You may want to include an inspection clause in the offer when negotiating for a home. An inspection clause gives you an “out" on buying the house if serious problems are found, or gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.
Do I need to be there for the inspection?
It's not required, but it's a good idea. Following the inspection, the home inspector will be able to answer questions about the report and any problem areas. This is also an opportunity to hear an objective opinion on the home you'd like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general maintenance questions.
Are any other types of inspections required?
If your home inspector discovers a serious problem a more specific inspection may be recommended. It's a good idea to consider having your home inspected for the presence of a variety of health-related risks like radon gas, asbestos, or possible problems with the water or waste disposal system.
How can I protect my family from lead in the house?
If the house you're considering was built before 1978, and you have children under the age of seven, you will want to have an inspection for lead-based paint. It's important to know that lead flakes from paint can be present in both the house and in the soil surrounding the house. The problem can be fixed temporarily by repairing damaged paint surfaces or planting grass over effected soil. Hiring a lead abatement contractor to remove paint chips and seal damaged areas will fix the problem permanently.
Do I need a lawyer to buy a home?
Laws vary by state. Some states require a lawyer to assist in several aspects of the home buying process, while other states do not, as long as a qualified real estate professional is involved. Even if your state doesn't require one, you may want to hire a lawyer to help review contracts and make you aware of special considerations.
Do I really need homeowner's insurance?
Yes. A paid homeowner's insurance policy (or a paid receipt for one) is required at closing, so arrangements will have to be made prior to that day. Plus, involving the insurance agent early in the home buying process can save you money. Insurance agents are a great resource for information on home safety and they can give you tips on how to keep insurance premiums low.
What steps should I take to lower my homeowner's insurance costs?
Be sure to shop around among several insurance companies. Also, consider the cost of insurance when you look at homes. Newer homes and homes constructed with materials like brick tend to have lower premiums. Think about avoiding areas prone to natural disasters like flooding. Choose a home with a fire hydrant or a fire department nearby.
Is the home located in a flood plain?
I'll help you find the answer to this question. If you live in a flood
plain, the lender will require that you have flood insurance before lending any money to
you. But if you live near a flood plain, you may choose whether or not to get flood insurance coverage for your home. Work with an insurance agent to construct a policy that fits your needs.
What other issues should I consider before I buy my home?
Always check to see if the house is in a low-lying area, in a high-risk area for natural
disasters (like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.), or in a hazardous materials area.
Be sure the house meets building codes. Also consider local zoning laws, which could
affect remodeling or making an addition in the future. Your real estate agent should be
able to help you with these questions.
How do I make an offer?
I will assist you in making an offer, which will include the following
Complete legal description of the property
Amount of earnest money
Down payment and financing details
Proposed move-in date
Price you are offering
Proposed closing date
Length of time the offer is valid
Details of the deal
Remember that a sale commitment depends on negotiating a satisfactory contract with the
seller, not just making an offer.
How do I determine the initial offer?
Calculating your offer should involve several factors: what homes sell for in the area, the
home's condition, how long it's been on the market, financing terms, and the seller's
situation. By the time you're ready to make an offer, you should have a good idea of what
the home is worth and what you can afford. And, be prepared for give-and-take
negotiation, which is very common when buying a home. The buyer and seller may often
go back and forth until they can agree on a price.
What is earnest money? How much should I set aside?
Earnest money is money put down to demonstrate your seriousness about buying a home.
It must be substantial enough to demonstrate good faith and is usually between 1-5% of
the purchase price (though the amount can vary with local customs and conditions). If your
offer is accepted, the earnest money becomes part of your down payment or closing costs.
If the offer is rejected, your money is returned to you. If you back out of a deal, you may
forfeit the entire amount.
What are "home warranties", and should I consider them?
Home warranties offer you protection for a specific period of time (e.g., one year) against
potentially costly problems, like unexpected repairs on appliances or home systems, which
are not covered by homeowner's insurance. Warranties are becoming more popular
because they offer protection during the time immediately following the purchase of a
home; a time when many people find themselves cash-strapped.