A home inspection can relieve some of the stress of purchasing a house. Independent home inspectors can give a buyer a full assessment of the property he or she is considering purchasing. The inspector's report provides a full and unbiased evaluation of the house's condition and indicates whether the house needs any work or may need work in the future. Reviewing a home inspection report with a real estate attorney will provide a buyer with an advantage when negotiating the purchase.
Obviously, a buyer should inspect a house before making a decision. However, a professional inspection should be done to uncover less obvious defects. In many states, inspectors require a license. Appraisals required by lenders are mainly superficial, stating the property's value compared to similar properties sold within mainly the past six months, and do take the condition of the home into consideration of the value. FHA and VA loans also require a third party appraisal, and will require that specific cosmetic and other obvious defect be repaired before completion of the sale. These repairs are considered as completed when assessing the value of the home by these government licensed inspectors. Appraisers do request or recommend additional inspections if they see problems that raise suspicion, such as potential structural defects or insect infiltration, such as termites. Termite inspections are mandatory for VA mortgages, and are extremely advisable on all others.
Contact a Iowa real estate lawyer representing clients in Manchester, Iowa today to schedule your initial consultation.
Home inspectors look at a number of things, including:
- Structural issues. These include the foundation, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof.
- Mechanical systems. These include the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, heating and air conditioning, water source and quality.
- Construction issues. These include ventilation, insulation, windows, and doors.
When inspectors discover problems, they may recommend a more thorough investigation. Buyers should also consider requesting inspection for health-related issues such as radon, lead, or asbestos. Many buyers prefer to attend the inspection, although this is not necessary. Many inspectors will answer questions about their findings and offer an objective opinion at the inspection.
Most often, home inspections are not done before completing an offer on a property, and the buyer should always include an inspection clause in the offer. This allows the buyer to back out of the purchase if an inspection reveals serious problems. It can also require the seller to adjust the sale price or repair problems before purchase. The cost of an inspection is generally less than $500. It is well worth the price to disclose problems with the property's value and safety. A real estate attorney can help to guide you through the inspection process.
What to Expect at Closing
Closing a purchase for real estate varies in each state. While some closings are done in your attorney's office, others are completed in title offices. Either way, the closing meeting is where the ownership of a property is officially transferred. Generally, the closing is attended by the buyer, seller, their brokers, and the closing agent. If the buyer is borrowing money to complete the purchase, a representative of the lender may also attend. All open issues should be settled before the closing, yet not always. At the closing, any remaining open issues are settled, the closing statement is verified, and all necessary documents are signed. A real estate attorney can help to advise you through this process.
While good closing agents try to help buyers through the complicated aspects of the closing, an attorney's assistance can be invaluable in determining that closing costs are allocated fairly. Closing costs can vary from between two to five percent of a property's purchase price.
The closing costs cover a large number of one-time fees. For the buyer, they also include the first year's payment for homeowner's insurance, real estate tax and one month of property taxes escrow, and mortgage interest. Other fees covered in closing costs include but are not limited to:
- Attorney fees
- Loan origination fees and rate discount points
- Appraisal fees
- Recording fees
- Survey fees
- Document preparation fees
- Inspection fees
- Homeowner's association fees
At a closing, the seller and buyer will provide items required by the contract, such as proof of homeowner's insurance, warranties, and other documents. Once both parties have approved the closing statement and all documents, the seller and buyer sign the statement, the buyer signs the mortgage, and the seller signs the deed and transfers ownership. Generally, the buyer pays all closing costs unless otherwise stated in the purchase contract. The closing agent provides the buyer with a settlement statement detailing the closing costs, and then records the deed and (when applicable) the mortgage.
- The buyer usually receives the following documents:
- Settlement statement
- Mortgage and mortgage note
- Copy of the deed
- Truth-in-Lending statement
- Sales contract
- Keys to the property
- Any required affidavits