A real estate agent in vital to the home buying process and can provide a variety of services in locating a property, negotiating the sale, and advising the buyer. A real estate agent is generally not qualified to discover defects or evaluate the physical condition of property: however, a real estate agent can assist a buyer in finding qualified inspectors and provide the buyer with documents and other resources containing vital information about a prospective new home.
The advisory is designed to make a buyer’s home purchase as smooth as possible. Some of the more common issues that a buyer may decide to investigate or verify concerning a home purchase are summarized in this Advisory.
1. Common documents a buyer should review 2. Physical conditions in the property the buyer should investigate 3. Conditions affection the surrounding area that the buyer should investigate. In addition, a buyer must communicate to the real estate agents in the transaction any special concerns the buyer may have about the property or surrounding area, whether or not those issues are addressed in this Advisory.
Remember: This Advisory is supplemental to obtaining professional home inspections. Professional home inspections are absolutely essential: there is no practical substitute for a professional inspection as a measure to discover and investigate defects or shortcomings in a home.
COMMON DOCUMENTS A BUYER SHOULD REVIEW
The documents listed below may not be relevant in every transaction, nor is the list exhaustive. Unless otherwise stated, the information contained in these documents has not been independently verified by the real estate agent.
A listing is an agreement between the seller and the listing agent and authorizes the listing agent to submit the information to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS printout is similar to an advertisement and contains various abbreviations and symbols. Neither the listing agreement nor the printout is a part of the purchase contract between the buyer and the seller. The printout contains a limited description of a property, such as its size, encumbrances, utilities, amenities, etc. The information was probably secured from the seller, the builder, or a governmental agency, and could be inaccurate, incomplete or an approximation. Therefore, the buyer should verify any important information contained in the MLS.
SELLER’S PROPERTY DISCLOSURE STATEMENT ( SPDS )
This document poses a variety of questions for the seller to answer about the property and its condition. A buyer should carefully review the SPDS and verify those statements of concern. Remember, your review of the SPDS is not a substitute for professional inspections.
COVENANTS, CONDITIONS AND RESTRICTIONS (CC&R)
The CC&Rs are recorded against the property and generally empower a homeowner’s association to control certain aspects of property use within the development. By purchasing a home in such a development, the buyer agrees to be bound by the CC&Rs. Thus the CC&Rs form an enforceable contract. The associations, the homeowners as a whole, and individual homeowners can enforce the contract. It is essential that the buyer review and agree to these restrictions prior to purchasing a home. The ADRE advises: “Read the deed restrictions, also called CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions. You might find some of the CC&Rs are very strict, especially those addressing landscaping, RV parking, play equipment, satellite antennas, and other common amenities-particularly if the subdivision is governed by a homeowner’s association. A short but informative document on the purpose and effect of CC&Rs may be read at www.realtor.com/BASICS/condos/ccr.asp
Buyers should consult legal counsel if uncertain on the application of particular provisions in the CC&Rs.
HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION (HOA) GOVERNING DOCUMENTS
In addition to the CC&Rs, HOA’s may be governed by Articles of Incorporations, Bylaws, Rules and Regulations, and often architectural control standards. The HOA is in place to enforce these rules and to preserve the value of homes in the condominium or planned community. Condominium and planned community HOA’s are also regulated by NC statutes. What makes a development a condominium or planned community? Common area, this is, community ownership of real estate for use by community residents, is the common denominator. In a condominium, the common property is actually deeds as undivided interests to the condominium owners. In a planned community, the ownership of the common property vests in the homeowner’s association.
TITLE REPORT OR TITLE COMMITMENT
The title report or commitment contains important information and is proved to the buyer by the title/escrow company or agent. This report or commitment lists documents that are exceptions to the title insurance (Schedule B Exceptions). Schedule B Exceptions may include encumbrances, easements, and liens against the property, such as a future addition or swimming pool. Make sure you receive and review all the listed documents. Questions about the title commitment and Schedule B documents may be answered by the title or escrow office, legal counsel, or a surveyor. General information regarding title issues may be found at www.titlelawannotated.com or obtained from the title/escrow company employed in the transaction.
HOME WARRANTY POLICY
A home warranty may be part of the sale of the home. Buyers should read the home warranty document for coverage and limitation information. Be aware the pre-existing property conditions are generally not covered under these policies.
LEAD BASED PAINT DISCLOSURE FORM
If the home was built prior to 1978, the seller must provide the buyer with a lead-based paint disclosure form.
COUNTY ASSESSORS/TAX RECORDS
The county assessor’s records contain a variety of valuable information including the assessed value of the property for tax purposes and some of the physical aspects of the property, such as the reported square footage (which should always be verified for accuracy).
PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTION REPORT
For the buyer’s protection, the importance of having a home inspected by a professional home inspector cannot be over-emphasized. A home inspection is a visual physical examination, performed for a fee, designed to identify material defects in a home. The home inspector will generally provide the buyer with a report detailing information about the home’s condition. The inspector and the report will point out existing problems and possible potential problems. The buyer should carefully review this report with the inspector and ask the inspector about any items of concern. Pay attention to the scope of the inspections and any portions of the property excluded from the inspection. Additional information on inspections may be found at the American Society of Home Inspectors website http://www.ashi.org.
TERMITES AND OTHER WOOD DESTROYING ORGANISMS
Termites are commonly found in many parts of North Carolina. Investigating evidence of termites or other wood infestations is the job of the pest inspector. The Structural Pest Control Commission (SPPS) regulates these inspectors and can provide the buyer with information regarding past termite treatments on the property.
COMMON PHYSICAL CONDITIONS IN THE PROPERTY A BUYER SHOULD INVESTIGATE
Every buyer and every home is different, so the physical property conditions requiring investigation will vary.
REPAIRS AND NEW CONSTRUCTION
The seller may have made repairs or added a room to the property. For example, the property may have an obvious improvement, patio, or garage, or may have been remodeled. The buyer should feel comfortable that the work was property done or have an expert evaluate the work. Request copies of any invoices or other documentation regarding the work performed.
SWIMMING POOLS AND SPAS
If the home has a pool or spa, the home inspector might determine that the cleaning system is not .working property or may exclude the pool or spa from the general inspection. It would be necessary to have a pool or spa company inspect the pool or spa and/or evaluate any problem.
Square footage on the MLS printout or as listed by the county assessor’s records is often only and estimate and generally should not be relied upon for the exact square footage of the home. An appraiser or architect can measure the home’s size to verify the square footage.
Even if the listing or SPDS indicates that the home is connected to the city sewer, it should be verified by a plumber, home inspector, or other professional.
If it is disclosed there has been a fire or flood in the property, a qualified inspector should be hired to advise you regarding any possible future problems as a result of the fire or flood damage and/or any subsequent repairs. For example, if the property was not property cleaned after a flood, mold issues may result. Your homeowner’s insurance agent may be able to assist you in obtaining information regarding fire, flood, or other past damage to the property.
FLOOD PLAIN STATUS
If the property is in a flood zone, an additional annual insurance premium of several hundred dollars may be required. If the property is in an area deemed high risk, the buyer may be required by the lender to obtain flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. For additional details you can visit FEMA’S Flood Map Service Center http://www.fema.gov
CONDITIONS AFFECTING THE AREA SURROUNDING THE HOME THE BUYER SHOULD INVESTIGATE
Every property is unique: therefore, important conditions vary
MILITARY AND PUBLIC AIRPORTS
You can get information on sex offenders at Sex Offenders, you may also try visiting the National Sex Offender Registry at www.familywatchdog.us . The presence of a sex offender in the vicinity of the property is not a fact that is required to be disclosed by the seller or agent.
Talk to the neighbors they can provide a wealth of information. Buyers should always talk to the surrounding neighbors about the neighborhood and the history of the home the buyer is considering for purchase. Drive around the neighborhood, preferable on different days at several different times of the day and evening, to investigate the surrounding area.
For Additional information visit
· National Fair Housing Advocate www.fairhousing.com
· HUDS Fair Housing/Equal Opportunity website www.hud.gov/fhe/fhehouse.html
· National Association of REALTORS (NAR) www.realtor.org
Buyer acknowledges that there may be other disclosures issues of concern not listed in this Advisory. Buyer is responsible for making all necessary inquires and consulting the appropriate personas or entities prior to the purchase of any property. The information in the Advisory is provided with the understanding that it is not intended as legal or other professional services or advice. These materials have been prepared for general information purposes only. The information and links contained herein may not be updated or revised for accuracy. If you have any additional questions or need advice, please contact your own lawyer or other professional representative.
Serving: Augusta, Evans, Grovetown, GA Columbia County
Jennifer Warner Re/Max Masters 1-706-421-9440
or for Fayetteville, NC 910-237-3411
All Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, NC homes visit: www.ViewFayettevilleHomes.com
All Augusta, Fort Gordon, GA homes visit: www.OnlineAugustaHomes.com