What to Ask the Realtor and What They Must Disclose
No matter if you’re buying your first of fifth home, there is going to come a time where you ask yourself if you have done all you can to facilitate the process. This includes the obvious things like securing financing, checking for any property defects, and having the home thoroughly inspected. What is often forgotten is checking with the state in which the home is located to make sure the realtor has disclosed everything required by law.
While this is becoming less of a concern as access to such information is widely available online, there have been countless instances where real estate agents have been less that forthcoming with information deemed important to buyers. The following are steps intended to help all buyers protect themselves from unforeseen or undisclosed property issues.
1. Get an inspection. Despite being one of the most common real estate practices to date, having an inspection done by an objective and licensed professional cannot be overstated. Inspectors often have years of experience and are trained to know what to look for in houses for sale. Their report should be considered invaluable and a necessity prior to purchasing.
2. Check the local laws regarding what the realtor is required to disclose. While there is some overlap, many states adhere to their own rules that should always be consulted before purchasing. Common required items include:
-Lead based paint hazards (also known as Title X)
3. Ask your realtor anything and everything until you are fully satisfied, and then ask some more. Many home buyers are so motivated that they only look at major things like price and location and often neglect the little details. We consulted with Realtor Maureen Bryant and her team, located in Richmond Hill, GA, to get an idea of what buyers should be asking:
-Any serious neighborhood nuisances (think barking dogs)?
-Has any work been done without a permit?
-What are utilities like? When was the septic tank last pumped?
-Is there any crime in the area?-Have there been any deaths at the property or surrounding properties?
-Who do you recommend for a home inspector and why?
-Who do you recommend for a mortgage and why?
The key here is to think outside of the box. If you did your homework then you should already know everything required to be disclosed by law. This is your chance to ask about noisy neighbors, inconvenient traffic patterns, and really anything you can think of. The real estate agent is working for you, let them put all your concerns at ease.
And finally, make sure all disclosures are noted in writing. Many states have designated forms for this process and must be signed and dated by all affected parties.