Understanding the Real Estate Process from A – Z – A Buyer’s Guide to Real Estate – Part 11
This is the eleventh post of a series in an FAQ format that I hope will help would be buyers better understand the real estate process that they are about to go through. There is a follow-on series to the posts for real estate sellers.
FAQ – OK, we have an accepted offer that everybody has signed. What comes next?
Congratulations! Now your work begins. First make sure that you have thoroughly read through the contract and made a list of the various deadlines that are specified in it. There are usually two or three that have to happen within the first 7-10 days – The home inspection, applying for the mortgage and determining whether flood insurance is required are typical tasks that must be completed in that time frame.
One of the most important and critical things that you need to do is to hire a good home inspector and
Find out what dates and times the home inspector has available and coordinate that with your schedule. Once you have settled upon a date and time, have your Realtor make the home inspection appointment. T Your Realtor is expected to be there too, so it has to fit into their schedule, too. While it is not required that you be there during the home inspection it is strongly advised that you are. You will find out a tremendous amount about the place that you ae about to start living in, such as how to change the furnace filter, where the water shut off is, how old the major mechanicals are – furnace and water heater – and perhaps how soon it appears that they will need to be replaced. You will also be told about and shown (where it’s safe for you to see it) any defects or issues that the home inspector finds that will need to be repaired. You aren’t expected to go up on the roof or up in the attic space with the inspector, but you could if you are able.
A good home inspector will be taking pictures as he/she goes to help document what they have found. If they find health hazards, like gas leaks, they may also tag those things (usually with red tags) in the areas of the defect, to help identify for the home owner where a repair needs to be made. Some home inspectors will cycle the major appliances to make sure that they all work, but some don’t do that. Ask before you hire the inspector if he will do that. Testing the appliances, even if the Sellers’ Disclosure says that they work, will reveals those burners on the stove that no longer work or the washing machine that leaks every time that it is used. That can prevent the surprise of having to make a major appliance investment right after moving in.
FAQ Supplemental – My home inspection report has lots of things that the inspector found that need attention. How do I handle that?
First off, don’t panic! All homes (even new builds) will have some things that need to be repaired or replaced and some things that the inspector may indicate will need attention soon. Go through the report thoroughly and make a list of the big things (major things) that are called out in the report. Decide which of those big things you can’t live with and need to have repaired or replaced before you would move in. Talk to your Realtor about conveying your concerns and demands to the Seller in the form of a letter or email that is labeled Unsatisfactory results from Home Inspection. You may ask the
If you make demands that the seller must have the repair work done prior to closing, be sure to include in your demands that the seller produce paid receipts at closing for all work and that all work be performed by qualified and licensed (if required) professionals and that any needed permits be pulled and the work inspected by the local building authority. Remember this is your request, based upon your inspector’s opinion and the Seller may disagree, so this is a negotiated settlement of those issues. If you can’t agree with the Seller on a resolution to the issues, you may have to walk away from this deal.
What else will be happening?
The mortgage application process may involve supplying more documentation that you have previously given your mortgage person. The underwriter will want to see a couple of years’ worth of income tax returns and probably some documentation from your employer. You may have to fill out a detailed financial statement of your income and expenses, if you hadn’t already done that. Bank statements and statements from any other place where you have money will also be required. This can be an especially difficult thing for self-employed people who may not have good records of where their money came from and went over the last couple of years. You have just moved from the mortgage reps view of “you look like a good person and seem to be OK financially” to the underwriters need to see and understand every little detail of your financial life. Don’t get offended by the requests that you get, just supply the requested documents.
You may also need to at least check the FEMA Flood Plain maps to see if the property is in a designated flood plain. Go there and put in the address of the property. Why is that important? Well, it will tell you whether you need to get flood insurance or not. Your mortgage company will probably tell you that, too; but you should check, just to make sure. You will need to arrange home owners’ insurance anyway and give proof of insurance to your mortgage person. You homeowners’ policy will protect you against internally caused water damage, like your water heater leaking or a broken pipe, but it does not cover water coming inform outside, i.e. flooding. Your homeowners’ policy doesn’t cover you for things like sewer backups either, so hopefully your sewer connection has a check valve in line to prevent backups.
We’ll talk more about other things that can happen while you wait for closing and things you will need to do as you get closer to the closing date.