Buyers

Found 75 blog entries about Buyers.

Woman talking to a home inspector

Do you belong to a professional association?

There are many associations for home inspectors, but some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Make sure the association your home inspector names is a reputable, nonprofit trade organization.

Will your report meet all state requirements?

Also, make sure the organization complies with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as those adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.

How experienced are you?

Ask inspectors how long they’ve been working in the field and how many inspections they’ve completed. Also ask for customer referrals. New inspectors may be

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Roof inspection

Some items should always be examined.

Structure

The home’s “skeleton” should be able to stand up to weather, gravity, and the earth that surrounds it. Structural components include items such as the foundation and the framing.

Exterior

The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, doors, siding, trim, and surface drainage. They should also examine any attached porches, decks, and balconies.

Roofing

A good inspector will provide very important information about your roof, including its age, roof draining systems, buckled shingles, and loose gutters and downspouts. They should also inform you of the condition of any skylights and chimneys as well as the potential for pooling water.

Plumbing

They should

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Asbestos removal

Radon

A colorless, odorless gas that can seep into your home from the ground, radon is often referred to as the second most common cause of lung cancer behind smoking.

What to look for: Basements or any area with protrusions into the ground offer entry points for radon. The Environmental Protection Agency publishes a map of high-prevalence areas. A radon test can determine if high levels are present.

Asbestos

A fibrous material once popular as fire-resistant insulation, asbestos was banned in 1985. However, it’s often found in the building materials, floor tiles, roof coverings, and siding of older. If disturbed or damaged, it can enter the air and cause severe illness.

What to look for: Homes built prior to 1985 are at risk of having

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Credit Report

Credit scores range between 200 and 850, with scores above 620 considered desirable for obtaining a mortgage. The following factors affect your score:

Your payment history.

Did you pay your credit card bills on time? Bankruptcy filing, liens, and collection activity also affect your history.

How much you owe and where.

If you owe a great deal of money on numerous accounts, it can indicate that you are overextended. However, spreading debt among several accounts can help you avoid approaching the maximum on any individual credit line.

The length of your credit history.

In general, the longer an account has been open, the better.

How much new credit you have.

New credit—whether in the form of installment plans or new credit

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Woman holding a piggy bank

Investigate local, state, and national down payment assistance programs.

These programs give qualified applicants loans or grants to cover all or part of your required down payment. National programs include the Nehemiah program, Getdownpayment.com, and the American Dream Down Payment Fund from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Explore seller financing.

In some cases, sellers may be willing to finance all or part of the purchase price of the home and let you repay them gradually, just as you would do with a mortgage. A similar option is the assumable mortgage, where a home buyer takes over the seller’s existing loan (with bank approval). This can be especially helpful when interest rates are on the rise.

Ask your family for

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Apartment/Condo complex

Condominiums, townhomes, and properties located within a homeowner association offer certain perks, but it’s important to consider them in your decision process.

How much storage is available?

Some properties include storage lockers, but there may not be attics or basements to hold extra belongings.

How’s the outdoor space?

Your yard may be smaller than you’d find in a traditional single-family home, so if you like to garden or entertain outdoors, this may not be a good fit. But if you dread yard work, it may be the perfect option.

Are amenities important?

Many properties offer swimming pools, fitness centers, and other facilities that would cost much more in a single-family setting.

Who handles maintenance and security?

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Meeting with the condo board

Before you purchase a condo, you should have an attorney review property documents for you. However, you should contact the board yourself ahead of time. You’ll learn how responsive and organized its members are and be alerted to potential problems.

How many units are owner-occupied?

Generally, the higher the percentage of owner-occupied units, the easier the condo will be to resell.

What covenants, bylaws, and restrictions govern the property?

Carefully read the bylaws to determine if you can abide by them. Also, find out if there are grandfather provisions that allow current owners more rights than you would have as a new owner, such as the ability to rent out your unit.

How much does the association keep in reserve?

Ask how the

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Money changing hands

Term.

Mortgages are generally available at 15-, 20-, or 30-year terms. In general, the longer the term, the lower the monthly payment. However, shorter terms mean you pay less interest over the life of the loan.

Fixed vs. adjustable interest rates.

A fixed rate allows you to lock in a low interest rate as long as you hold the mortgage and, in general, is a good choice if interest rates are low. An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) usually offers a lower rate that will rise as market rates increase. ARMs usually have a limit as to how much and how frequently the interest rate can be increased. These types of mortgages are a good choice when fixed interest rates are high or if you expect your income to grow significantly in the coming years.

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Appraiser inspecting a property

Once you are under contract, your lender will send out an appraiser to make sure the purchase price is in line with the property’s value.

Appraisals help guide mortgage terms.

The appraised value of a home is an important factor in the loan underwriting process. Although lenders may use the sale price to determine the amount of the mortgage they will offer, they generally only do so when the property is sold for less than the appraisal amount. Also, the loan-to-value ratio is based on the appraised value and helps lenders figure out how much money may be borrowed to purchase the property and under what terms. If the LTV is high, the lender is more likely to require the borrower to purchase private mortgage insurance.

Appraised value is not a

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Southwest style adobe home

Where you live should reflect your lifestyle. These questions will help you find the best community for you.

Is it close to my favorite spots?

Make a list of activities you engage in and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel from each neighborhood you’re considering to engage in your most common activities.

Is it safe?

Contact the police department to obtain neighborhood crime statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type and trend. (Is crime going up or down?). Pay attention to see where in the neighborhood the crime is happening.

Is it economically stable?

Check with your local economic development office to see if household income and property values in the neighborhood are stable

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