Deciding what to look for

Choosing between a smaller house in an affluent neighborhood, an older, bigger house in a working-class community, or a brand-new home is not always easy. If you're in this situation, start by examining your priorities and making some comparisons.


Another consideration is home-price appreciation. Unfortunately, this is not easy to predict. In the late 1980s, the more expensive move-up housing appreciated wildly. But, during the recession that followed, smaller homes tended to hold their value better than more expensive ones. We can discuss the factors effecting the current situation.

Value and Condition
Home inspections, seller disclosure requirements, and my experience and knowledge will help you decide which properties are valued properly, and which are in good condition. Disclosure laws vary by state, but in some states, the law requires the seller to complete a Real Estate transfer disclosure statement.

Here is a summary of items you can expect to see in a disclosure form:

Sellers are also required to indicate any significant defects or malfunctions existing in the home's major systems. A checklist specifies interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roof, insulation, windows, fences, driveway, sidewalks, floors, doors, and foundation, as well as the electrical and plumbing systems.

Hazards and permit violations
Disclosure forms also require sellers to note the presence of environmental hazards, walls or fences shared with adjoining landowners, any encroachments or easements, room additions or repairs made without the necessary permits or out of compliance with building codes, zoning violations, citations against the property, and lawsuits against the seller effecting the property.

Soil and water
If disclosure forms do not mention these, be sure to ask about settling, sliding or soil problems, flooding or drainage problems, and any major damage resulting from earthquakes, floods or landslides.

Condominium sellers must reveal information about covenants, codes and restrictions, or other deed restrictions.

It's important to note that the simple idea of disclosing defects has broadened significantly in recent years. Many jurisdictions have their own mandated disclosure forms, as do many brokers and agents. Also, the home inspection and home warranty industries have grown significantly to accommodate increased demand from cautious buyers. Be sure to ask questions about anything that remains unclear, or does not seem to be properly addressed by the forms provided to you.

Adapted from Inman News Features
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