Ann Marie Martin


Posted by Ann Marie Martin on 4/9/2018

Once you've made the transition from renter to homeowner, life is never the same again! While new responsibilities like home repairs and paying property taxes may sometimes feel like a burden, there are plenty of benefits that should outweigh the costs.

For example, home ownership usually brings with it tax advantages and investment features that can work in your favor. Getting guidance from a licensed tax advisor and financial consultant can help make sure you're getting the maximum return on your real estate investment.

Tips For House Hunters

If you're in the process of buying or looking for a new house, an experienced real estate agent (and home inspector) can be a valuable resource when evaluating the condition of a home, estimating the current market value of the property, and predicting the growth potential of the neighborhood. As you may already know, the location of a property is one of the most important aspects of its current and future value.

Seller disclosure laws, which vary from one state to the next, can offer buyers some measure of protection against costly problems, health or safety hazards, or quality of life issues down the road.

There are two reasons that seller disclosure requirements don't always protect home buyers from property flaws and repair problems: seller dishonesty or hidden conditions sellers aren't aware of. They can't reveal issues they don't know about, and in some cases problems are hidden behind walls, ceilings, and other places.

As mentioned, a potential obstacle to getting the full story about a home's history, flaws, and weaknesses is the seller's unwillingness to be completely honest. Even though they're opening themselves up to a potential lawsuit if they fail to reveal known problems with the property, they may risk it if they think full disclosure may derail their chances to sell the house or get top dollar for it.

From the buyer's standpoint, the best advice to keep in mind is caveat emptor: "Let the buyer beware." Your real estate agent can fill you in on the details of exactly what a seller needs to disclose, in terms of flaws, defects, hazards, damage, repairs, infestations, and even bizarre things like paranormal activity, suicides or crimes that occurred in the house. You'll also want to know things like whether the property is in a designated flood plain, whether there are any boundary line disputes, and if there are known toxic substances on the premises or underground.

While there are many variations in seller disclosure forms (depending on state laws and local conditions), there are also standard questions in most forms. As a side note, some localities may require disclosure about hazards such as earthquakes, fires, or other potential natural disasters.

You can get an overall idea of what's included by doing an online search for property disclosure forms. Generally speaking, the most reliable sources of information are your real estate agent, a real estate attorney, or your state's Department of State.





Posted by Ann Marie Martin on 9/26/2016

Buying a home can be an exciting time and there is no better time to buy and take advantage of low mortgage rates and prices. Buyer beware, just because it is a good deal you still need to do your due diligence before signing on the dotted line. Here are some potential purchase pitfalls to look for: Do-it-yourself anything Does the home you are purchasing have a great finished basement, new deck or three season addition? Check with city or town hall to make sure the work was done to code and the proper permits were pulled. Things not done to code can be expensive to fix and can ultimately lower the home's value. Structural problems Structural problems are a big red flag. Have a professional home inspection and if need be have a structural inspection on the home. Things to look for include doors and windows that don’t open and close properly and cracks along the foundation. Some cracks may be harmless and normal settling but typically the bigger the crack, the bigger the problem. Structural problems are usually a deal killer as they can be very costly to fix. Insect damage can be part of a much bigger problem. Signs of excessive termite or pest damage does not tell the whole story and often there is unseen damage inside the walls. This may require a special pest inspection to determine if the home's studs have been compromised thus affecting the home's structure. Water damage Another potential problem is water damage. Water damage can cause the failure of the foundation. Water needs to be always draining away from the house. Look for moisture or water stains in the basement. This may indicate a drainage issue. Also be sure to check if the home is in a flood zone. Water in the home can also cause mold. Mold can lead to many serious health issues and is expensive and time consuming to remove. Mold should always be removed by a professional specializing in mold mitigation. Electrical work Do-it-yourself electrical work or antiquated electrical can be a recipe for disaster. When looking at homes be wary of electrical work that has been added on over the years. If the home has an addition make sure to ask if the current electrical system is enough to handle the additional square footage. Be wary of older knob and tube wiring or aluminum wiring this can be very expensive to replace. A professional home inspector should always be able to help point out potential pitfalls in a home before you purchase it. Never skimp on peace of mind. To find a qualified home inspector you can check with the National Association of Home Inspectors.