Home Buying FAQs

Home Buying FAQs

Home Buying Frequently Asked Questions

We have assembled these Frequently Asked Questions for your convenience. If you do not find what you are looking for or have additional questions, please contact us..

Q: Why use a real estate agent?

A: A true real estate professional can provide tremendous value. You should expect an agent to provide: 1) guidance through a complex process, 2) insight about homes and communities, 3) vigilance for market dynamics, 4) advice on critical issues, 5) support through emotional decisions and 6) legwork to help complete the transaction.

Q: What is Buyer Agency or Exclusive Buyer Representation?

A: An Exclusive Buyer Representative works in your best interest to find the home that is right for you. We strongly recommend that you explore the ways in which an agent may assist buyers in your market area.

Q: How can I find out the level of mortgage I can afford?

A: The best way is to speak with a mortgage specialist early in the home buying process. Contact a mortgage specialist today to determine the level of mortgage you can afford.

Q: What is the difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved?

A: Pre-qualification is an estimate of your borrowing power, based solely on the information you provide and is not subject to verification by the lender. Pre-approval is an actual loan commitment issued by a lender before you find a property, subject to a satisfactory appraisal of the property to be purchased. When you have been pre-approved, your income, assets, and credit have been reviewed to the satisfaction of the lender.

Q: Do I need a lawyer?

A: Real estate transactions are complex, involving numerous documents. We recommend that you engage a lawyer to review all documents before you sign them. Only legal counsel can interpret the ramifications of laws and contracts on you. Once you have decided upon a lender, their lawyer or Settlement Agent will conduct a title search and handle the closing. As a buyer, if the closing is being handled by an attorney assigned by the lender, it is important to keep in mind that the attorney is working in the interest of the lender. You may decide to have a separate lawyer representing your interests.

Q: Do I need a home inspection?

A: A home inspection - performed by a qualified home inspector - can help you determine the true (not just the apparent) condition of the house. The buyer may choose to make the transaction contingent upon a successful inspection (at their expense). This contingency helps protect the buyer against the discovery of major structural and/or mechanical problems that may exist. Buyers are not required to have a home inspection, although it is highly recommended.

Q: What about lead paint and lead hazards?

A: Beginning in 1978, federal law mandated the removal of lead as an additive in residential paints, and prohibited the use of lead paint in the construction of homes built after that date. As a result, properties built after 1978 should be free from lead-based paint, although a risk assessment and/or inspection is still recommended. Properties built before 1978 may present exposure to lead from lead-based paint which may place young children at risk of poisoning. The federal law is particularly concerned with protecting children, under six years of age and pregnant women. Some states' laws are even more stringent than the federal law, and directed at lead hazards other than those associated only with lead-based paint. Buyers should familiarize themselves with relevant laws in their states. A risk assessment or inspection for possible lead-based hazards is recommended prior to the purchase of any home.

Q: How do I get town and school information?

A: Many sources exist for town and school information, although you may find that they have incomplete or inaccurate information. Here are a few sources you may consider:

    • Most town and state governments provide information on their Web sites
    • A good real estate professional will be an excellent source for local information, particularly qualitative information.
    • Most school districts in our area have websites with a wealth of information available to the public.
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