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What do buyers agents do? Why not just handle it yourself?

Buyer Agent's Job

 

As a Buyer Agent’s, our job is to get you from Point A (Would-be Buyer) to Point B (Happy Home Owner) in a safe, simple, and professional manner. More specifically, it’s our job to:

1. Educate You About the Neighborhood

Choosing a new neighborhood is part of the fun! We will play a critical role in educating you about the pros and cons of various neighborhoods. You could  go knocking on doors and speaking to neighbors, but it is not necessary. We can help you understand the neighborhood schools, crime rate, transportation options, demographics, nearby restaurants/shops/services and the trends that are happening in that neighborhood.

[See our related: Burlington Neighborhood Guide]

2. Perform Due Diligence on the Property

Another critical role is helping you do your due diligence on the property. That involves:

  • Being there to fully  investigate the property. This means going into the scary basement, looking for signs of knob and tube wiring, failing windows, or strange plumbing/ heating issues. We also can refer you to outside professionals as necessary.

  • We ask the important questions: Have there been any water issues in the basement? Were the renovations completed with permits? Are there any issues with the neighbors?

  • We investigate and report back  the ongoing costs of the property (hydro, heat, water, etc.)

One of the Buyer Agent’s most important jobs is to make sure you don’t buy the WRONG house.

3. Negotiate Price and Contract Terms

The Buyer’s agent works for the Buyer, so their job is to negotiate the lowest possible price with the best possible terms for the Buyer. We investigate the price history of the homes you’re interested in, the prices of comparable homes recently sold in the neighborhood and what’s happening right now in the market. Helping you understand how the differences between properties affect value (for example, lot size, the number of bathrooms, finishes or view) is crucial when making big decisions. Buyer’s agents also protect you by making your offer conditional on, for example, obtaining suitable financing or performing a home inspection.

4. Help You Find the Home

Long ago, a Buyer’s Agent’s primary role was to introduce properties to buyers. There was a magical book that contained all the homes for sale and if you wanted to buy a house, you hired an agent to find out what was for sale. Enter the internet. Today’s Buyers are often identifying the homes they are interested in themselves…but that doesn’t mean that Buyer Agents don’t play an important role in locating homes. Sometimes that means introducing the perfect home that was overlooked because it didn’t fit the initial criteria or neighborhood or finding an opportunity to buy a house that seemed out of budget (but really won’t be after negotiations). Fact: what you think you want when you begin your home search is often not what you decide to buy in the end.

5. But Wait! There’s More!

A Buyer’s Agent will also:

  • Help you determine your needs, wants, and priority criteria

  • Reduce financial surprises by helping you determine the full cost of buying a property and the ongoing costs of owning it [Related: Closing Costs]

  • See ‘potential’ in a home and educate you on value in the property.

  • Connect you with the best lawyers, lenders and home inspectors (Vendor Lists)

  • Be an ongoing resource for connecting you with home professionals to help once you own the home

But Does Who I Hire Matter?

Not all agents are created equal! Who you hire to represent you on the purchase of a home MATTERS. Who you choose to work with will impact the choice of the home you buy, the neighborhood you buy it in, and final cost. It can mean the difference between:

  • Overpaying for a home vs. paying market value

  • Buying a condo in a building filled with college students vs. buying a condo housing professional couples like you

  • Unknowingly buying a house that will cost you $50K in surprise repairs vs. knowing before you buy

  • Losing money on your real estate investment vs. being cash-positive

Buyer Agent Hiring

As always, you can choose any agent. But wouldn’t it be nice to go with a time tested, experienced group of agents? Shouldn't you Expect More?

 

Concerned About Lead in Burlington, Vt.?

by Matt Hurlburt Group

Lead and the Buying/ Selling Process. Protecting You and Your Family.

There are a number of Vermont homes that were built or remodeled prior to 1978. Why 1978? In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint, but some states banned it even earlier. Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning.

The exposure pathways for lead that is most concerning are ingestion and inhalation. Lead can effect anyone in a family, but children are at the greatest risk, due to developing nervous systems and smaller body mass. Small children also tend put everything in their mouths, which could include paint chips or chewing on windowsills. Lead actually has a sweet taste, which can encourage little ones to seek out places to chew when teething. 

Physical Effects: Lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior problems, slowed growth, headaches, difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, digestive problems and muscle and joint pain.

Lead can exist in many forms, but home buyers and sellers are most concerned with paint. Flaking or deteriorating paint means that there is a possibility of lead in the air, in the home's dust, and in places accessible by children. 

% of Older Homes Likely to Contain Lead-Based Paint

Source - US. EPA

 

     As a Buyer/ Seller, what are your responsibilities? 

  • Sellers must disclose in writing any information about known lead paint in the home. If sellers have performed lead tests, they must share the test results.
  • Sales contracts must give buyers up to 10 days to check for lead hazards. Home buyers aren't required to test for lead--but they must be given the opportunity to do so. You might see this information on a special addendum attached to a purchase contract. 

    Your realtor will provide your with federal and state information about protecting yourself and your family from lead exposure. 

  • As a buyer, if you are buying a home that has deteriorating lead paint, you may negotiate with the seller to hire an EPA licensed contractor to safely remediate the deteriorating spots. There are numerous do-it-yourself options, but we always recommend consulting an expert.

We hope that this clears up some of the confusion about the hazards of lead, and why it will be part of the buying and selling process. As always, we are here to help.     

    The Matt Hurlburt Group. Expect More. 

     

 

 

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One of the great mysteries of home buying, at least to those who have never been through the process, is closing costs. While nearly everyone has heard of them, few who haven’t had to pay them really understand them. Some people who have paid them aren’t sure what they spent all that money on. Knowing what these terms mean and what fees they consist of can help you be more prepared for them when the time comes.

Closing costs are the various fees that a home buyer must pay before the mortgage lender will finalize the mortgage. More generally speaking, these costs are about 3 to 6 percent of the amount borrowed. That is in addition to your down payment. This purpose of this blog entry is to identify and explain some of the components of your total closing costs.

The lender will charge an application fee to cover the costs of completing your mortgage application. This may or may not include the fee for your credit report. They will also charge a loan origination fee, also known as points. This covers the administrative costs of processing your mortgage. One point is equal to 1% of the total amount loaned.

Many lenders offer the option to purchase without points, but keep in mind that this will result in a higher interest rate. There are also lenders who will let you pay additional points to lower the interest rate on your loan.

Title insurance will be required by your lender. This protects you and the mortgage company in case the seller does not have the legal right to sell it. There could be unknown co-owners of the property, or it could have an unpaid lien (debt) against it that would prevent the seller from legally selling it.

An appraisal is also required by lenders. This is to ensure that the home is worth the amount loaned to you to purchase it. A home inspection is not usually required, but we recommend that you have one. The cost of the inspection could also be considered part of closing costs.

Homeowners insurance is a standard requirement of mortgage lenders. They will require proof of it and may require you to pay the first year’s premium before closing. Private mortgage insurance may also be required depending on the amount of your down payment, typically if your down payment is less than 20% of the loan amount, and part of the fee will be included in your closing costs.

Taxes associated with the transfer are usually the buyer’s responsibility, unless other arrangements are agreed upon. You may also have to pay for a survey of the property. You will likely be required to pay the interest accrued between the time your mortgage was originated and the due date of your first payment. Attorney and notary fees may also be a part of your closing costs.

Hopefully this begins to clear up some of the mysteries surrounding closing costs. Still confused? Contact us at the Matt Hurlburt Group to get your questions answered.

All About Home Inspections in Burlington Vt.

by Matt Hurlburt Group

What to Expect When Inspecting

Once an offer is accepted and the transaction is in the “contingency” phase – one of the buyer’s objectives is to ensure their understanding of the condition of the property they are about to acquire.  Inspections are a critical activity in this “due diligence” period.

While many different inspections can be performed for a residential home, the most common inspections are:

  • Structural Inspection

  • Water Test (if private well)

  • Radon test

  • Chimney

The following is some general information regarding common issues that may arise during these inspections.  Note that you are free to hire any inspection company with whom you feel comfortable.   We can refer inspection companies who have served us and our clients for years, if you desire.  In any case, we highly recommended that you attend the inspections in person.  This is a great opportunity to you to learn about the house through the eyes of the inspector, and to ask questions about any of the findings and recommendations.

STRUCTURAL/BUILDING INSPECTIONS

Structural/Building Inspections are a general inspection covering the various systems of the home.  They will typically inspect the structural components of the home (foundation, crawl space, attic, exterior, doors and windows, and interior walls and surfaces), roof, electrical, plumbing, appliances, heating & air conditioning, smoke detectors, garage door, drainage, and water heater.  They will look for conditions that are not up to code, or are not in compliance with current health and safety standards and codes.  They will typically comment on maintenance and other repairs that you may expect over time.

Home inspections include an overview of the roof and chimney, and may raise concerns that would warrant a roofing or chimney expert to advise and provide estimates, if necessary.  They also do not check for building permits.

Drainage is one area that is often a concern in this area, especially with older homes.  It is not uncommon to get some dampness in the basement or around the home, especially in the spring.  Large accumulation of water in a basement is not a desirable situation.  If you buy an older home, pay particular attention to the drainage, and what improvements you might want to consider over time.  Your building inspector can advise.

Cracking and settlement may be another area of concern.  This is normally a matter of degree, as some cracking in the sheetrock and concrete surfaces is to be expected as the property settles, lumber shrinks, earthquakes occur, and so on.  Extensive cracking, sticking doors and windows, and floors that are out of level can be a symptom of more serious settlement and/or foundation issues, so again care should be taken to understand and address these issues.

You should also determine the age of the major components of the home, such as water heaters, the furnace, and air conditioning units.  Pay close attention to the age, and ask the home inspector what is a reasonable expectation for the remaining life of these components.

ROOF INSPECTIONS

Unless the roof is brand new – a roof inspection by a licensed roofer is higher recommended for most transactions.  They will usually issue a report detailing the condition of the roof, and any repairs that are recommended to keep the roof in good condition.  It is important to ask the inspector how much life is left on the roof.

In general, wood shake roofs can normally be expected to last 20 to 25 years with periodic maintenance.  Composition shingle roofs can be expected to last 20 to 30 years depending on the materials used.  Coated metal roofs, tile roofs, and slate roofs can be expected to last well over 40 or 50 years.  Once the recommended repairs are completed, the roofer will guarantee the roof against leaks for a period of one year.

CHIMNEY INSPECTIONS

If the property has a fireplace,  a chimney inspection by a licensed chimney sweep is recommended, especially on masonry or brick fireplace.  The biggest threat is broken flue tiles, which present a fire hazard and will require a $2000 to $3000 repair.  On newer non-masonry fireplaces, the most common issues are related to separation of the panels or pre-mature aging of the refractory panels.

OTHER INSPECTIONS

Depending on the situation, other inspections may be appropriate.   Usually we start with the property, roof, and chimney inspections.   Depending on the results of these inspections additional investigation or a more detailed inspection by a specialist may be warranted.  Some other inspections might include:

  • Mold Inspection

  • Furnace inspections by your electric utility provider

  • Foundation inspections

  • Drainage inspections

  • Lead Paint

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Contact Information

Photo of Matt Hurlburt Group Real Estate
Matt Hurlburt Group
RE/MAX North Professionals
40 Main St, Suite 550
Burlington VT 05401
Phone: 802-862-5337
Fax: 866-660-0032