Tag Archives: purchase agreement

Five things to know about a home before committing to buy

Your due diligence inspections should include more than hiring a home inspector to look at the home and reviewing a current termite inspection. And your due diligence should start as soon as you have serious interest in a listing.

Making an offer to purchase a home consumes a lot of time and emotional energy. Before your real estate agent or attorney puts pen to paper, find out as much about the property as you can. In particular, you want to know if there’s any reason you shouldn’t try to buy the house.

Seller disclosure requirements vary from state to state, as does real estate practice and protocol. Find out if there are any seller disclosure statements and presale inspection reports. If there are, ask to see copies before you write an offer.
buy homeIn some areas, it is standard procedure for listing agents to provide a disclosure package that includes any existing reports and disclosures to interested buyers before they make an offer. In other areas, reports are made available only after the buyer and sellers have negotiated the purchase agreement. Get ahold of as much information as you can about the physical condition of the property as soon as possible.

After you review the seller’s documents on the property, you may discover that the home you find so appealing requires a far bigger investment in repair work than you can handle or afford financially. In this case, move on to the next property with no remorse. You’ve saved yourself from hassle and heartbreak.

On the other hand, if the reports and disclosures fall within your expectations, move on to investigating the local neighborhood. On closer look, you may discover that there are several large apartment buildings that back up to the house you’re interested in buying. This might create a noise factor. If you’re sensitive to noise, you might not be happy living in the property you’re considering.

Buyers sensitive to crime should check with the local police department to see if the neighborhood is being hit by waves of break-ins. Drive by the property several times during daylight and evening hours to see if the complexion of the neighborhood changes in any way that is disadvantageous to you.

Commuters should drive from the property to work and back during rush hour, and check into all the public transportation options that are available in close proximity. If you’re intent on buying within walking distance to shops and cafés, find out how long it takes to get from the house you think you want to the nearest commercial area.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: It’s wise to include an inspection contingency in your purchase offer so that you have a time period to complete whatever inspections of the property you deem necessary before committing to move forward with the purchase. This is recommended even if the seller has completed presale inspections.

Some buyers who have confidence in the seller’s home inspector hire that inspector to do a walk-through inspection with them so that the inspector can explain his report and answer any questions. The fee for this sort of inspection will usually be less than what the seller paid for the initial inspection and written report.

Don’t skip inspections to save money. It could cost you plenty in the long run if uninspected items turn out to be faulty and you have to pay to repair them.

Order a home inspection as soon as possible after your offer is accepted by the sellers. Most home inspections include recommendations for further inspections. If you don’t have the home inspection done early, you may not have enough time to complete all the further recommendations recommended, like roof or drainage inspections.

THE CLOSING: If you run out of time, ask the sellers for an extension.

Dian Hymer is a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience and is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author.

Purchasing a Home? Hands Off These Items

Hands off these items in a home purchase

One reason sellers prepare and stage their homes for sale is so buyers can imagine themselves living there. It can be difficult for buyers who are emotionally involved with the home to picture what the place will look like after the sellers move out.

To avoid after-closing problems, make sure that your purchase contract is clear about what stays with the house and what does not. Real estate law and custom vary from one area to the next. Ask your agent for help if you have any question about what’s included in the sale and what is not.

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) can provide some information. For instance, if there are washer and dryer hookups only, then the washer and dryer are not included in the sale unless otherwise specified in writing in the purchase agreement.

To be enforceable, real estate contracts must be in writing. Verbal agreements to sell real estate aren’t binding. The MLS is the REALTOR®s’ listings of homes for sale and an offer to cooperate with other agents in procuring a buyer. It is not a contract between the buyers and seller.

So, even if the MLS information on a listing says the washer and dryer are included, you should write this into the contract so there’s not confusion when the sellers move out.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Typically, items that are permanently attached to the property, such as built-in appliances, tacked-down floor coverings, window coverings, light fixtures and bookcases, are included in the sale unless they are specifically excluded in writing by the sellers. For example, the dining room chandelier might have been in the sellers’ family for years. It has sentimental value. The best approach would be for the sellers to remove and replace the fixture before the home goes on the market. Otherwise, ask the sellers to replace the fixture before they leave so that you’re not left without light if this is the only source of light in the room.

Satellite dishes and wall mounts for flat-screen TVs can create ambiguity. In some contracts, they are included. If you don’t want them to be included, ask the sellers in writing to remove the wall mount and satellite dish and to make necessary repairs before they leave.

If the sellers are taking these items with them, be sure to require in writing that they make necessary repairs. Special attention should be paid to the roof covering where a satellite dish is removed to avoid leakage into the home.

Buyers are often taken by items of personal property that belongs to the sellers. They are a perfect fit for the house, like a fountain in the front courtyard, outdoor furniture or potted plants that enhance the garden, or a table that fits the breakfast nook perfectly. These items, unless permanently attached, are usually not included in the sale.

Just because the sellers haven’t offered to include a piece of personal property you covet doesn’t mean you can’t ask for them. Again, to ensure that they are included, write it into the contract, or an addendum to the contract.

When should you ask for personal property that’s not included in the sale? If you’re in competition, postpone the request until the sellers accept your offer. When you remove contingencies might be a good time to bring up the subject. If the sellers can’t part with the item you want, ask where they bought it.

Even if the sellers have specifically said they are not leaving items like the washer and dryer, they might be willing to do so if your offer is good enough.

THE CLOSING: If the sellers offer to include items of personal property you don’t want, specify in writing in the purchase contract that those items be removed.