The following tips for home buyers are not in any particular order, and this list below is by no means meant to be an exhaustive one; however, it provides an excellent starting point for first-time homebuyers and experienced Massachusetts home buyers to learn more about purchasing real estate.
• Don't disclose confidential and material information about your needs, desires and/or financial abilities to sellers or their agents. Only your exclusive buyer agent is obligated to act in your best interest and keep personal information confidential.
• Attend your property inspections. A good home inspector will show you not only what are problems and potential problems with a property, but also how to care for it during your ownership.
• Consider your entire financial situation when you plan to buy a home. If necessary, consulting a financial planner or tax advisor could help you get your financial picture in focus.
• Mortgage companies and appraisers protect and promote their own interests, not necessary your interests. Be sure to ask how much your loan will cost per month and discuss closing costs in detail. Also, be aware that your appraisal does not insure you're getting a good deal on the home you're buying. A exclusive buyer agent will perform a comparative market analysis for you prior to making an offer.
• Remember that, although possibly helpful in other areas of the home-buying process, a seller's agent cannot be your advocate or counsel you about a property's value because he or she works for the seller, and, by law, is obligated to act in the best interest of the seller. In addition, if you work with the seller's agent he or she must disclose to the seller anything he or she knows about you that would affect the seller's decision making, including price negotiations.
• Comparing the annual percentage rate (APR) is a good way to compare loans offered by different lenders. The APR discloses the entire cost of the loan, not just the stated interest rate. Take the time to shop around for a low interest rate that also has low closing costs. Also, seek out referrals for competent, experienced mortgage professionals who will close the loan on time and under the terms promised. An incompetent mortgage professional can cost you your deposit.
• As of May 2001, home inspectors must be licensed in Massachusetts, and you should choose a home inspector who is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Home Inspectors are required to carry a minimum of $250,000 in insurance in Massachusetts, so that consumers will be able to seek compensation, if they endure losses that are a result of an inspector’s error or omission.
• If the house has automatic garage door openers, be sure that the controls are turned over to you at closing or left somewhere in the house where you can find them.
• Request that the sellers leave all appliance, furnace, hot water, heater and other manuals in the house, or ask the sellers to bring such manuals to the closing, if available.
• Ask the seller when the last time all the chimneys and fireplaces were cleaned. If a fireplace is never used, it may be full of soot. The chimney or exhaust pipe for a wood or coal stove should also be cleaned. Wood and coal stoves require permits from the municipality where the home is located.
• An annual furnace cleaning and "tune-up" will extend the life of the unit and make it run more efficiently, thus saving energy and money.
• Don't confuse the appraiser and the inspector. The appraiser is hired by the lender to determine whether sufficient market value in the property warrants making the requested loan. The home inspector is hired by the home buyer to conduct a general home inspection, or a more specific inspection for environmental issues, such as lead-based paint, radon, asbestos, mold and so on. A general home inspector will not test or inspect a swimming pool. Home inspectors are not required to inspect certain aspects of the property.
• Besides the lender's title insurance policy, which the new homeowner will be required to purchase, the new homeowner may purchase an owner's title insurance policy to protect the owner against anyone making future claims against the property. Download our title insurance brochure in PDF format.
• Never assume minor repairs or replacements will be made in the home prior to closing. Anything you wish to have done prior to the closing should be included as a provision of the purchase and sale agreement. It is imperative that a licensed attorney reviews the standard form purchase and sale agreement and add provisions that protect the interests of the home buyer.
• A final walk-through is critical to make a last check that all systems are in working order and that requirements for repair/replacement contained in the Purchase and Sale Agreement have been satisfied.
• Any deficiencies found in the walk-through should be discussed and resolved at the closing, and funds may need to be held in escrow with the settlement attorney to insure that walk-through issues are satisfactorily resolved subsequent to the closing.
• Please check out our legal tips for homebuyers.
For more information review our frequently asked questions section or contact us anytime to set up afree, no-obligation consultation, so you can meet us and learn more about how we can assist you during the entire home-buying process. Call (978.835.5906) anytime to schedule an in-person meeting or read about our brokers online.