You know the basics when viewing properties. Flick the light switches, inspect the closets, take a deep sniff in the basement. But do you know the tools that can help you uncover a problem, and how to use them? If not, you could be vulnerable when purchasing a new home.
1. Property Inspection. A property inspection is usually paid for by the buyer and scheduled through the realtor or owner, according to Hanscom FCU Mortgage Sales Manager Josh Rakiey.
“A home inspector will examine the major systems of the home where visible, such as electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems,” he said. “You may also uncover exterior problems like termites or rotting wood.”
2. Appraisal. With an appraisal, a licensed professional determines the value of the property. “The process is regulated by each state and uses uniform standards set forth by a national board,” explained Claire Beaudoin, Hanscom FCU VP of Mortgages.
Your lender will schedule the appraisal. This information helps the lender form an opinion about whether the value and condition of the property is sufficient to secure the mortgage.
3. Seller Disclosure. Consult your realtor for any seller disclosure. “It’s best to get these prior to or at the time of receiving a purchase and sale agreement, before you sign anything,” Beaudoin advised.
The disclosure contains any known information that could affect the value of the property or your use and enjoyment of it. It is typically illegal for a seller to intentionally conceal major issues with the property.
You may have heard about things sellers are supposedly required to disclose, such as a death occurring in the home. “Don’t assume it will be revealed,” Rakiey said. “If something is important for you to know, be sure to ask specifically.”
“Most deal-breaking defects will be uncovered during the inspection,” Beaudoin noted, “but read any disclosures carefully and discuss any issues with your agent.”
No one wants to be disappointed or involved in a dispute after the sale is completed and a problem crops up. Be proactive by asking questions and keeping good records on the answers you receive.