As a home inspector working in the home inspection field for around 20 years these are some of the things that I have learned from buyers and sellers and real estate professionals over the years in my experience that I think will be helpful to you in the home buying process.
1. Before you even get started searching for a quality home inspection in the area find a good mortgage company with the best rates and terms and get pre-approved not pre-qualified, pre-approved this is a letter provided by your mortgage company that will give the maximum qualifying mortgage that will give you concrete information that can be used as a powerful tool during the purchasing process.
2.Get professionals who can help and guide you along the process, even though you might think you can do everything you can’t and you don’t want to learn the hard way.
A. Exclusive buyer’s broker real estate agent with a good list of references
who will work for your interest and will help you through the process of a good home in a not so good home and location as well as knowledge of the area.
B. A good real estate attorney and one that primarily practices real estate transactions not a friend or neighbor who does other types of Law, You want someone he who knows the ins and outs of real estate transactions and can help you through the process and guide you and will help you find any title issues or problems in the past and potential problems in the future.
C. Find a good reputable home inspector who will spend the time necessary and not all home inspection in the area will guild you through the process. Some home inspectors provide other services like water quality and quantity home inspection in testing and provide radon testing services. This is money well spent and don’t always go with the cheapest home inspection in the area out there because the cheapest home inspector out there usually is the home inspector who is trying to get his foot in the door or the quickest one to get his foot out of the door. A good home inspector will take you through the home physical process and who will show you details about the home and find potential problems that could require a costly repairs down the road or even require immediate repairs that you may/would not otherwise discover without the expertise and knowledge of a home inspector. The information that you have learned from performing the home inspection May and generally does result in many additional questions that you can ask the homeowner and or occupant. The items that are discovered during the home inspection that need immediate or future attention (Get qualified licensed professionals to further evaluate and give estimates on necessary repairs prior to the close of the escrow) can be used as a negotiating tool to either reduce the price of the home or have them repaired before the close of the escrow by qualified licensed individual(s) and or to get monies back at the closing so that you can have a professional(s) of your choice do the necessary repairs.
3. Do your homework go to the town hall in find records from the building department and electrical department and the plumbing department and search for any and all permits or history of the home you looking at. Search the Internet for history of this address you be surprised what you find. Go to the attached link so that you can search the FEMA records for floodplain info https://msc.fema.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/FemaWelcomeView?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&langId=-1
4. Ask questions of the homeowner that you have discovered while doing your homework and get a history of the home so that you’ll better understand the home, get a disclosure if one is provided and if it disclosures not provided then you can ask some of the following questions. I would recommend getting any and all questions answered in writing you know the old saying if it isn’t in writing it ain’t said.
*How many years have you lived in the home?
* Do you have the home inspection in paper or PDF available for review?
*What is the age of the roof?
*What is the age of the heating system?
*What is the history of insect infestation or damage with the structure?
* What is the history of water in the basement and any and all leaks as a result of water?
*What is the history of water to the interior of the home as a result of plumbing, ice damning other water leaks or penetration?
*What is the history of any and all repairs/Additions/other work performed on the home professional or non-professionally?
*What is the history of any and all fires or emergencies related to the home?
Additional questions can be found at 266 CMR 6.00: standards of practice sec 6.03 question #4
Anecdote: I have performed many thousands of home inspections in many areas over the years, earlier in my career I performed a home inspection on a property in Massachusetts while performing the home inspection upon entering the home the homeowner was present, I asked the homeowner “Have you ever had any problems with water in your basement”; the homeowner answered “no”. We the buyer myself in the broker proceeded into the basement where upon entering we discovered approximately 6 inches of water in the basement, (to my surprise and being perplexed) I preceded out of the basement to confront the homeowner about the 6 inches of water that we had discovered in the basement and I asked the homeowner in front of the buyer and buyer’s broker; “I thought you said you didn’t have a problem with water in your basement” The seller replied “I don’t use the basement I don’t have a problem”. This was a very important lesson that I learned early in my career and now I understand why attorneys get paid to do their job because it’s not the question that you asked it’s how you asked the question that makes the difference.
5. The best time to search for a home is in the fall in winter time because this is the slowest time of the season and you’re more likely to get an excepted offer and not have a lot of competition and home sellers are usually willing to work with you when the market is slower. Spring time is the busiest season in the real estate market for real estate agents and home inspectors. If you’re looking for home in the springtime be ready and prepared to put an offer in quickly because I have experienced many homebuyers telling me they have lost out on many good homes as a result of not putting an offer in early enough and losing the house to the competition, It was not unusual for a buyer to put in an offer in was higher than the asking price just to get an accepted offer. This is one a good broker can be very helpful in situations like this because if they know the area and the market they generally know the best way to help you out.
I hope this information is helpful for you and you utilize the lessons I have learned over the years to help improve your ability to purchase the home of your dreams.