Buying a home can be one of your most significant investments in life. The more prepared you are at the outset, the less overwhelming and chaotic the buying process will be. The goal of this page is to provide you with information to help prepare you in understanding what stepping into the home buying world entails, prior to walking into your first property. Remember, if you have any questions about the process, I'm only a phone call or email away!
Inspections are designed to help you understand the overall condition of a property, potentially saving you considerable time with the purchase process and hundreds or thousands of dollars in unforeseen expenses and repairs. Some inspections which I always recommended are: Standard Home Inspection (via a very Type-A inspector [of whom I have in my Rolodex]), Termite Inspection, Chimney (if applicable), Roof and Furnace. If the roof and furnace are new, a General Property inspection often suffices. From the results of these, additional inspections may be recommended. Below is insight into some of the inspections available:
Standard Home Inspection
The areas which may be covered include lot and grounds, roofs, exterior surfaces, garage/carport, structure, attic, basement, crawl space, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing, fireplace/wood burning devices, and appliance condition. Remember that your inspection rights are clearly stated in the Contract For Sale and vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some cases homes can be sold "as-is" even though an inspection may take place.
- Radon Inspection
Radon levels are detected and measured. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that between 15,000 - 22,000 deaths per year result from radon exposure, therefore they recommend that all homes be tested for radon. EPA recommends that homes containing 4.0 or more Pico Curies per liter be remedied.
- Termite Inspection
A termite inspector will inspect the property for the presence of wood-destroying insects (WDI) or wood destroying organisms (WDO, i.e. fungus) and conducive conditions that exist. Inspection requirements vary by state.
- Asbestos Inspection
Lab analysis will determine if asbestos fibers are present and evaluate their condition. If friable or non-friable conditions exist, buyers should seek professional assistance.
- Lead Paint Inspection
Painted surfaces of a home can be evaluated to determine the presence of lead paint. Homes that were constructed before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. Lead exposure can be harmful to young children and babies. Children with lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and headaches.
- On-Site Waste System Evaluation
SeptiChekTM is an evaluation performed by an on-site waste management professional. It involves accessing the cover of the septic tank to examine the fluid level inside the septic tank. The tank is then pumped to check the condition of the tank and its baffles. The leaching field is probed to check the level of sub-surface liquid waste (effluent). This test alerts the buyer to a wide range of potentially costly septic system repairs or failures. The SeptiChekTM evaluation provides more reliable information of potential problems than a septic dye test.
- Pool/Hot Tub Inspection
Determines the overall condition and operability of a pool and/or hot tub's equipment. Additionally, the condition of the pool deck will be inspected for deterioration and/or other noticeable defects.
- Private Well Flow & Potability Inspection
Designed to determine whether or not a private well adequately supplies water to the house. Samples are sent to a lab for potability (drinkability) analysis.
- Non-Vinyl Siding Inspection
There are two types of stucco siding to be aware of: cement-based "traditional" stucco (often referred to as Hardie Board due to the inventor's name: James Hardie) and synthetic stucco. An inspection of the siding's application according to manufacturer's installation specifications is recommended. Synthetic stucco siding is commonly referred to as Exterior Insulated Finish System (EIFS).
- In considering a home with non-vinyl siding exterior, we recommend an inspection be conducted to determine the condition of the siding.
- Synthetic stucco is predominately found in the Southeast but it is present in homes in other areas of the country as well.
- Hidden structural damage has been documented in synthetic stucco homes in 34 states.
- Moisture readings are taken to determine if the system has already experienced water intrusion.
- Underground Storage Tank (UST) Inspection
The most common methods for testing a UST, typically used to store oil for heating homes, are either the soil test or vacuum test. The soil test consists of random core samples taken around the location of the tank and submitting them for lab analysis. This will determine if any product has contaminated the soil at that particular area and to what extent. The vacuum test consists of having a technician seal off and place the tank under a vacuum. Readings are periodically taken to determine whether or not the tank is losing its vacuum. With this test immediate results are available for the buyers.
- Since USTs are predominately made of metal they rust and corrode over time, causing hazardous materials to contaminate soil and potentially aquifers that supply drinking water to surrounding communities.
- The majority of UST problems occur in the northeastern states due to the older properties located there.
Obtaining the proper inspections for a home prior to purchase is one of the best ways to make a smart purchase decision and protect your investment. The above is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all of the types of inspections that may be necessary on a particular home, but it is meant to provide general information on some of the most common types of inspections.
As you begin shopping for a home loan, your first question of each lender will probably be "What's your interest rate? How much are you charging?" Interest rates are usually expressed as an annual percentage of the amount borrowed. If you borrowed $120,000 at 10% interest, you'd owe interest of $12,000 for the first year. With most mortgage plans you'd pay it at the rate of $1,000 a month. You would also send in something each month to reduce the principal debt you owe - and the next month you'd owe a bit less interest.
When your grandparents bought their home (putting at least half the purchase price down, by the way), their interest rate was probably around 4 or 5%. Rates stayed the same for years at a time. Then in the years following World War II, things became more turbulent. As economic changes speeded up, rates began to change several times a year. By the l980s, lenders were setting new rates on mortgage loans as often as once a week - and they still do today. When inflation hit a high in the '80s, some mortgage loans carried interest rates as high as 17% - and those who absolutely needed to buy, paid that much.
Rates dropped gradually through the 1990s, and by 2000 had reached their lowest rates in decades, in which now in 2020 we are seeing astronomically low rates...even in the 2s -- including JUMBO LOANS! Home buyers appear to have the most favorable conditions for mortgage borrowing since their grandparents' days - and without 50% down payments either. Taking that into account, the competition can get fierce and it's important to have a solid lender pre-qualification, readily available assets, a solid mindset and an agent that presents you in the best light in order to go under contract -- that's me!