Information for Buyers

Buying a Home

Whether you’re in the information gathering stage or are ready to hit the ground running, we’re here to help. Buying a home can be one of your most significant investments in life, both financially and emotionally, and you can count on us to be your guides and advocates through every stage of the process. It is never too early to start a conversation with us. We believe that the more prepared and informed you are in the beginning, the more seamless your experience will be.

Home Inspections

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 repairs. Some of the inspections that may be required or recommended are:

Standard Home Inspection

The areas that 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,” though an inspection may take place for information purposes.

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 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) 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.

Septic Inspection

Septic inspections can be 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. You can also have the distribution box inspected, which is a key clue to the health of the septic system.

Well Flow and 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.

Underground Storage Tank (UST) Inspection

The most common method for testing a UST, typically used to store oil for heating homes, is a soil 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 a product has contaminated the soil at that particular area and to what extent.

    • 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.

Obtaining the proper inspections for a home prior to purchasing is one of the best ways to make a smart 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.

Interest Rates

As you start considering your mortgage options, your first question of your 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. Continuing into the millennium, home buyers appear to have the most favorable conditions for mortgage borrowing since their grandparents’ days – and without 50% down payments either.

Lenders and bankers are not one size fits all, each offering a different menu of products. One may have products specially designed for first time buyers and have a grant department to assist with the downpayment, while another may have products designed to wrap in a renovation budget or products for veterans or doctors. If you’re not sure where to begin, we’re happy to give some suggestions of who might be the right fit.