Home Buyer 101: Creating the Informed Home Buyer Part 2
We have provided four home buyer tips to help create the informed home buyer, and now we are presenting the next 6 tips. The following homebuyer tips should provide some insight and could be used as an evaluation checklist for home buyers as they begin their search.
Older, less efficient steel or wood frames, single pane windows and doors which do not seal properly can have a significant diminishing effect on the energy efficiency of a home. Windows and doors are a major source of heat loss in the winter and cooling in the summer months. Check to see if doors and windows operate smoothly, close firmly and seal nicely against the weather stripping. Today’s standard windows by contrast are triple pane, with low E glass which takes advantage of passive solar technology. Additionally, inquire if all external wall cavities, attic space and basement ceiling are well insulated.
Check the roof for aging. Are the corners of the asphalt shingle tabs curling up, crumbling or missing? Are there signs the asphalt granules are falling off (look for dark spots)? All can be indication that a roof is past its useful life. Also look for shaded areas on the roof that don’t receive much sunlight maybe from an over hanging tree, position of the home relative to the sun, or large soffits. If you see plant growth (like moss) that’s usually an indication of prolong moisture and this may break down the asphalt shingle prematurely.
The tiniest of pests can pose the biggest threats while remaining silent and almost invisible, to the home. Check for areas around the sill plate located on top of the foundation perimeter walls for the presence of tiny bore wholes and small deposits of dirt or sawdust. Often in homes which have a known Termite problem you may find discarded wings and termite bodies just below the sill plate on the basement floor.
Title V. Septic systems.
In many towns here in Massachusetts about 30 percent of the homes rely on individual septic systems. In Massachusetts the home sewage system is governed by Title V, (or 5) a series of septic regulations of the Massachusetts Environmental Code including inspection, design, construction and operation. Asking if the home has past Title V inspection and the date the inspection was completed is very important. A Title V inspection is valid for two years from the inspection completion date and can be extended for a third year if the system was pumped in both of the prior two years. Mortgage lenders will generally require a “Pass” on Title V inspection or will require 1.5 times the estimated repair value to be escrowed for closing.
Many home buyers or future homeowners never give much thought to setbacks, but when an expansion of the home’s footprint like the addition of a first floor master bedroom or living room is considered, the concept of setbacks becomes very important. Setbacks are generally municipal ordinances or zoning regulations. A general description includes minimum distances from each side of the home to the property line or street. Although a homeowner can apply for a special permit if the proposed home expansion impedes within the setback requirements, the approval of the special permit is NOT guaranteed.
Another consideration many home buyers overlook during their home evaluation has to do with Encumbrances which are a legal claims against the property. Specifically easement which is the legal right for example that allows your neighbor to cross your property at their discretion. Additionally the homeowner is not allowed to block access of their property for example with a perimeter fence or gate. It is not a bad idea to ask the homeowner or sellers agent if any encumbrances exists on the property.
These home buyer tips are meant to provide insight only and perhaps generate a series of questions for the seller, sellers agent or inspection professionals. It is highly recommended that home buyers employ the services of licensed inspection professionals prior to signing the Purchase and Sale agreement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roger Martin is a Massachusetts Realtor with Century 21 Commonwealth. Roger is a unique blend of both Realtor and licensed General Contractor with over 20 years of experience building Custom Homes, Renovation and Design. Serving the Ashland, Brookline, Chestnut Hill, Concord, Dover, Framingham, Lexington, Marlborough, Natick, Needham, Newton, Sherborn, Sudbury, Wayland, Wellesley, Westborough, Weston, and surrounding areas.