Guide to Buying a Home

The house buying process can be emotionally draining and taxing. It begins before you look at a home prospects. There’s much to do to get to this process! Some individuals make plans for years and other begin right away. Others begin their approach by attending open house events, driving through preferred neighborhoods and exploring nontraditional financial methods. These are all places to start! Despite the timeline most fitting for your lifestyle, the steps to closing the deal won’t change.

Did you know….that Legally, In Pennsylvania, a Lawyer is not needed in a Real Estate transaction.  If you do decide to hire an attorney, here could be some reasons why:

  • if you are buying property in a planned unit development 
  • or you are purchasing a house jointly with others 
  • Or if problems show up during title search & sellers disclosures etc
  • Or, simply for peace of mind.

Basically the procedure goes as follows

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1

You decide what house you want to purchase and what price range you can afford.

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2

Have a down payment then get pre-approved for the appropriate mortgage for the house you intend on buying.

Your mortgage companies will likely require you to purchase a title insurance policy in connection with obtaining a mortgage. Its purpose is to protect against adverse claims by prior owners or lien holders or any other clouds on the title that turn up after the closing.
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3

You then put an offer in and if its accepted you sign an agreement of sale which in PA has a 30 day (or more) grace period.

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4

THEN you immediately take pictures of everything and take a good look around

Most home purchase agreements have a grace period.

Your purchase agreement should have around a 30 day grace period (generally, but varies by state. Check your local laws)

During your 30 day (or more) grace period

  1. Review the Sellers Disclosure Statement

    Seller disclosures are important for you as a buyer, since just looking at a property may not be enough to tell you what problems its owner encountered while living there. But not even the disclosures should be considered a complete guide to the property’s condition. The seller may have become blind to some of the problems or entirely unaware of them (particularly concerning issues hidden within walls or the attic, or underground).

  2. Get the property surveyed by a professional surveyor

    Make sure you do a complete & thorough title search on any property either by yourself by going to the courthouse and doing research on the property & the title or hire a Title Insurance Company who will do it all for you for a small fee.

    • The title company will conduct a search before offering coverage. The search goes through public records and other sources for any liens, easements (such as the utility company’s right to access part of the property), or other encumbrances or title restrictions that may affect the property. If the title search locates problems, you should require the seller to correct those as a condition to closing.
  3. Get a thorough home inspection (in PA, this is very important)

    • Buyers should hire an independent home inspector to find out more about what sort of shape the property is in. Many buyers make their offer contingent upon a satisfactory inspection report that covers:
    • termites and other pests soil settlement, drainage, and erosion issues conditions that could lead to mold foundation, walls, floors, and structural integrity, and condition of systems for heating and cooling, electricity, plumbing, and drainage, and other physical concerns, whether they’re active or developing.
    • Virtually every house has repair issues, so don’t look for a straight “pass” or “fail.” The issues raised in the report most commonly  become items for negotiation with the seller before the sale; or just  alerts for you going forward with ownership of the home.
The day of closing, visit the property again prior to signing the closing documents and do a thorough check & make sure nothing has changed or has been removed.