Centers And Squares
Ok – your offer was accepted. Congratulations! Chances are the next step is to get a home inspection scheduled. Wondering what happens on a home inspection? Here’s an overview:
What Happens On A Home Inspection
Typically your home inspector starts on the exterior of the property. He’ll be looking at the siding, the trim, the foundation and the roof.
Then we’re off to the basement since as one home inspector says “that’s where the fun is!” A good home inspector will go through the cellar one system at a time and look at the plumbing, the heating, the electrical and the foundation. He’ll be looking for any evidence of current or past pest problems though if conditions warrant you may consider getting a separate pest inspection by a specialist.
An inspector typically is not checking for lead paint – that’s a separate inspection by another specialist. The inspector is also not looking at the smoke or carbon monoxide alarms since Massachusetts law requires that those will be inspected by the local Fire Department prior to the sale of the house.
Upstairs the inspector will go room to room with more time being spent in the kitchen and bath[s].
Your inspector will be taking notes and it helps if you take notes too. You’ll be getting a report that outlines the inspector’s findings. You may get the inspector’s report on the spot or it may be emailed to you afterwards. Ideally you want ask the inspector when you first call for an appointment how long it will take to get your report – particularly if you’re up against the agreed upon inspection deadline in your offer.
With a good inspector, by the time you’re done you should have an understanding of any issues to add to your to-do list, a grasp of how the mechanicals in your house work, and a good sense of what you need to do for ongoing maintenance and emergencies. You’ll be a homeowner soon!
If you’ve never bought real estate before of if you’ve owned elsewhere but never bought real estate in Massachusetts you’ve probably wondered – how long does it take to buy a house in Massachusetts?
While I can’t predict how long it will take for you to find the house or condo of your dreams, once you do find the perfect place and make an offer there is a typical time-frame for your home purchase.
The home buying process varies state by state. Here in Massachusetts the typical home buying purchase takes six to eight weeks. That’s from the day your offer is accepted until the day you close and get your keys.
It may be possible to speed up the process or to extend the time-frame. Perhaps you need to move more quickly or maybe the seller won’t be ready to move for several months. Buyer and seller will agree to a date that works for both parties.
I once had a sale close in just 12 days. That’s fast. Nowadays closing so quickly would be a much bigger challenge – the mortgage industry isn’t making things easy so it is better to work in the 6 – 8 week time-frame if you’re getting a mortgage.
Closings can also be extended. More often than not this happens when the seller needs a particular closing date beyond the standard period and the buyer agrees. However, you’ll want to consider the ramifications for your financing. Your lender will only be able to lock your mortgage rate for a certain period of time. An extended closing may very well mean that you won’t be able to pin down your mortgage rate until you get closer to the closing.
In general, you can expect it to take six to eight weeks to buy a house in Massachusetts. So if you’re in the real estate market, plot the weeks on the calendar and make your plans.
If you’re hoping to buy real estate in Cambridge or nearby this spring, you’re probably coming up with a wish list. You may not get everything on your list but it is a helpful starting point in the real estate hunt.
What’s on your real estate wish list?
Everyone’s list will be different but here are some things to think about:
Location – Probably the most important. Cast too wide a net and it’s a difficult process. Narrow your focus too much, too specifically, and you may get frustrated and fail to find your new home. Decide on several towns and / or neighborhoods that appeal and you’ll be able to stay on top of the new possibilities.
Style – House or condo? If you’re looking at condos, is a big building too big or a two to three-unit too small? Which era of building appeals – older, classic buildings or new construction? Do you want a townhouse or a flat? A ranch, Colonial, Cape or split level? Top floor, first floor or a condo in between?
Size – How big a place do you want? Often, you have to get out and look at some options before you get a feel for square footage and what feel right. Don’t be too quick to decide without seeing a place that it won’t work because the square footage is too low. Much can depend layout and for houses in particular you’ll want to take the square feet numbers with a grain of salt. It’s usually easier to decide on the must-have number of rooms and bedrooms you want or need. Even then, a room that’s not included in the official bedroom count might suit your needs.
Level of renovation– Most of our housing stock in the Cambridge area is older. Some places have been updated – many older places are transformed into luxurious, modern spaces. Others don’t have the newest, flashiest of fixtures and appliances but are very nice as is. You’ll find condos and houses that could use some attention to outdated features and others that have some definite projects that are must-dos. What’s your comfort level condition-wise? “Needs work” typically goes well beyond painting and buffing. How much is too much?
Outside space– Is it important to you to have outdoor space? Private space or is common space ok? Do you need pet or play space? Is a big yard too much of a good thing for your busy schedule?
Parking – Is a parking space – or two – important to you? Opting only for garage parking will further limit the options. In some neighborhoods and locations it’s easier to park on the street than in others.
Public Transportation – Will you be taking public transportation to work? Even if you drive, many buyers want to have easy access to public transit. And what’s your definition of public transportation? Does it have to be a subway stop or will a nearby bus stop suit your needs?
Do you have or want pets? If you’re looking at condos make sure you check for what’s allowed – some will restrict by number or by size and many places won’t allow pets at all. Even houses get scrutinized in terms of pet friendliness – often it seems we’re buying a place because it works for our pets as much as ourselves.
Particular features – Hardwood floors, in-unit laundry, air conditioning, a dishwasher, a gas stove – what are the must-haves or really hope-to-haves on your list?
Price– Let’s not forget price. You’ll want to be pre-approved before you head out on the real estate hunt so you can focus on places you’ll be able to buy.
Now that you’re armed with your real estate wish list it’s time to head out on the hunt. If I can be of help with your real estate search please give me a call at 617-504-1737 or email me at [email protected]. I’d love to help!
Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny
If it is, you’ll want to keep coming to back to Centers and Squares since we’ll be running a series of posts this month on what you need to know to make your Cambridge home buying process smooth and successful.
There’s so much to think about when you are starting your search for a house or condo:
- How do I get pre-approved for a mortgage?
- How much can I afford to spend for a house or condo?
- My lease ends in June (or August, or whenever) – when should I start to look for a place?
- Should I buy a house or a condominium?
- What kinds of condos are there in Cambridge?
- What happens during a home inspection?
- How much money do I have to put down?
- How long does it take to buy a house in Cambridge?
- What do condo fees cover?
- Do I need a lawyer to buy real estate in Cambridge?
- What will I get for the money in [fill in the blank] neighborhood?
- When do I get to move in?
and on, and on.
We’ll touch on all of these questions and more in the next few weeks. And if you’re moving to Cambridge from out of state we’ll answer your questions too – tell you about Cambridge neighborhoods, transportation, places to stay while you’re house hunting, where the best gyms, supermarkets, stores, etc are, and more.
If you have questions that you want addressed please feel free to leave a comment below.