With so many things to consider when buying a home, my clients usually have many of the same questions. The following Frequently Asked Questions have been designed to address important topics that are often of interest to Home Buyers. If you have a question, and you don’t see it here, give me a call or email me and I will be sure to answer it for you. Now, for the Frequently Asked Questions.
What is the difference between “pre-qualified” and “pre-approved”?
If you are “pre-qualified” you have determined, with a loan officer, what price you can afford based on the down payment, your debts and the amount the mortgage company will approve for your mortgage. Being “pre-qualified” is only a determination of your probable credit. If you are “pre-approved”, your credit, employment and funds have been approved by the lender.
What are closing costs?
Closing costs are an accumulation of charges paid to different entities associated with the buying and selling of real estate. For buyers, they are usually about 4-6% of the total sales price of a property. Some of the closing costs you might encounter are: application fees, appraisal fee, county taxes, credit report, discount points, documentation fee, escrow fees, homeowners’ association fees, loan fees, mortgage insurance, origination fees, tax registration and title insurance premium.
What is a point?
One point is equal to 1% of the new loan amount. Whenever government regulation, state usury laws and/or competitive practices prohibit the lender from charging a rate of interest that would make the real estate loan competitive with other fields of investments, the lender must seek some method of increasing the yield for the investors. By charging “points”, the lender can bring the real estate loan up to those other investments.
What is earnest money?
When you make an offer, you will need to put up an earnest money deposit as a sign of good faith that you are seriously interested in buying a home. That deposit becomes a part of the purchase price and is held in a trust account until there is full acceptance of the offer. Typically, an earnest money is 3-5% of the offer amount.
What is title insurance?
Title insurance protects the named insured against loss because of defects, liens, encumbrances, adverse claims or other matters not shown or disclosed to the new owner that attach before date of policy.
Is VA or FHA financing unfair to sellers?
FHA and VA loans provide purchasers the opportunity to buy homes with minimal cash investment and at lower interest rates. The result is a larger market for sellers, who also benefit by receiving all cash for their equity.
What is an inspection?
There are numerous types of inspections. An inspection is meant to evaluate, at minimum, the structural and mechanical condition of a property. It is not the same as an appraisal which evaluates the market value of a property. Persons involved in real estate transactions need unbiased information about the physical condition of property they plan to buy or sell and your contract should include a contingency that you obtain a satisfactory inspection report. Talk with your agent about the types of inspections available.
Home Inspectors vs. Engineers
Home Inspector: A person who examines any component of a building, through visual means and through normal user controls, without the use of mathematical sciences.
Engineers: Performs an analysis or design work requiring extensive preparation and experience in the use of mathematics, physics, chemistry and the engineering sciences.
Finding a qualified Inspector
- Referrals from satisfied customers
- Referrals from a local real estate agent or mortgage company
- Local consumer affairs office
- Online or in the Yellow Pages under “Building Inspection Services”
Ask if she/he is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). The ASHI has established standards of practice which include the specific services, limitations and exclusions that can be expected from private home inspectors.
What the inspection, at minimum, includes
Every inspection should include, but is not be limited to, an evaluation of at least the following:
- Plumbing and electrical systems
- Ceiling, walls and floors
- Hazardous materials concerns
- Heating and air conditioning systems
- Common areas (in condominiums)