Purchasing a home is one of the most exciting times in your life. It is also one of the largest purchases you’re ever likely to make, so it's critical that you know your home buying rights and the law. Knowledge is power, so take some time to learn about real estate agents, open houses, paperwork and more.
- Is it the best time for you to buy? Before buying a home in New Hampshire, review your finances. Search the internet for mortgage calculators to get an idea of what you can afford. If you put less than 20 percent down, your mortgage company will ask you to buy private mortgage insurance before giving you a loan.
- Help with buying. New Hampshire offers homeownership assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. You must meet income requirements, and you could be subject to a recapture tax if you buy your home through assistance, then sell it within nine years.
- Know the neighborhood. Learn about the area in which you're considering buying. Check out the local papers, realtor websites and recent home sales.
- Gather your data. Visit open houses whenever possible. It's fun and informative. Compare and contrast the homes, sale prices and features.
Your Real Estate Agent
Using the services of a real estate agent can be helpful when you're buying a home. A professional’s expertise will help ease you through the complicated and sometimes frustrating home buying process. Your agent will manage all the paperwork and arrange for necessary home inspections. A real estate agent can customize and target your home search. You can't rely on the listing agent for this help because the listing agent only represents the seller. Real estate agents earn a commission that's typically paid by the seller.
Try to find an agent who is an expert in the area where you're interested in buying. Be sure to verify that the agent is licensed in the state by searching the New Hampshire Real Estate Commission’s license database. Request the agent’s record of home sales in the area in the last year.
New Hampshire requires that you retain an attorney to handle a portion of your home purchase details. A lawyer will be sure all the mortgage documents are correct, such as good faith estimates of closing costs, escrows, and correct calculation of lender’s fees. Title insurers, friends, family and bar associations can recommend lawyers.
New Hampshire Property Condition Disclosure Statement
In New Hampshire, sellers must disclose defective issues with the property. These issues include infestations, water leaks, mold, lead paint, other hazards, structural damage, fire damage and neighborhood problems. The disclosure is made via a detailed property disclosure form that must be signed by the seller. As a buyer, you should be able to see the form at open houses, when you're previewing a house, and certainly before you make an offer. Federal law also requires that property owners disclose lead hazards. Visit the website of the Environmental Protection Agency for more information.
Real Estate Purchase Agreement
New Hampshire's purchase agreement contract is a standard form you can find online at the websites of most brokers. Your lawyer should review the contract even though it's standardized. There may be additional language your attorney wants to add, and you can customize the agreement to your needs. The agreement must include the purchase price, the total down payment, and the closing date. It also specifies who will pay for what settlement or closing costs, the type of loan you're applying for, the interest rate, the term of the loan, and the date by which the loan must be in place. Oral contracts for purchases are not enforceable.
House Inspections and Appraisals
Lenders require property appraisals. The appraisal cost is included in closing costs as part of the mortgage fees. The appraisal verifies the average value of the home by comparing it to other similar properties.
Home inspections are an assessment of the property. They alert buyers if any issue exists that could affect the house's value. Inspections search for things like pest infestations, water analysis, radon gas, lead hazards, on-site sewage problems, well water issues, and problems with underground oil tanks. The buyer usually pays for this inspection. You can find an inspector by visiting the websites of the American Society of Home Inspectors or the State of New Hampshire Board of Home Inspectors.
A title search verifies that the home you wish to buy is free of liens or easements that could keep you from taking legal possession of the property. They affect the seller’s legal ownership and can include probate, construction, tax, and other liens. After the title search, if there are no issues to clear, title insurance is issued on the property. Title insurance offers protection from financial loss due to title defects or claims against your property. Any title issues that do come up must be cleared before you can purchase the home.
Buying Foreclosure and Short Sale Properties
When buying foreclosure or short sale properties in New Hampshire, the servicer or investor acts as the seller. The seller manages the sale and provides for the release of title. Lenders usually determine their own procedures for foreclosures or short sales.
Even with foreclosures and short sales, you should enlist the services of a real estate agent who can help you. All the same issues apply as in any home purchase. Short sales or foreclosures are not necessarily quicker or less costly. The purchase price must suit the lender or investor holding the property.
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