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 setting yourself up for an expensive disappointment 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 Josh Rakiey, Hanscom Federal Credit Union's assistant vice president of mortgage origination.
“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.” If you find a problem, you have some leverage with the seller for some negotiation.
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.
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 disclosures before you sign anything. It’s best to get these prior to or at the time of receiving a purchase and sale agreement.
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 or crime 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, 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 as many questions as you need to and keeping good records on the answers you receive.
Hanscom FCU has published a guide specifically for first-time homebuyers. In it, find an easy-to-understand explanation of the homebuying process so that you are prepared every step of the way to your new home. Download our free guide today!
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