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Housing terms you need to know from A to Z

Buying a home is exciting, but it can also be extremely stressful. What do all these terms actually mean? TMRWxTODAY spoke to Tammy Abrusci, a real estate agent with Re/Max Heritage Properties, to define the most common (and confusing) real estate terms. By Erica Chayes Wida

  • A Waffle Page TMRW
    A is for...

    Attorney review

    A is for...

    Attorney review

    When buying or selling a home, check whether your state requires an attorney review. Some states mandate that home sale contracts be reviewed by legal counsel while others don’t.

    If the buyers and sellers are working with a real estate agent, which is the most common way to find the right home or list it for sale, they’ll prepare a binding contract. This contract will include all the details of the sale and the agreements between buyer and seller to make the transaction as seamless as possible.

    Once this contract is drawn up between the realtors, it is then subject to attorney review. Both the seller’s and buyer’s attorneys will create an addendum to the contract and personalize the contract to this transaction. Attorney Fees vary but generally are one set fee, versus the typical hourly rate that can get costly quickly. Real Estate Lawyers of New Jersey, for example, estimates $1,000 for representing a buyer and $750 for a seller.

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  • B Waffle Page TMRW
    B is for...

    Budget

    B is for...

    Budget

    Like any big financial decision or project, from buying a car to buying or building a house, you need to determine your budget first. Address these questions to figure out your price range:

    1. How much cash do you have to put down? Houses require down payments, and the more you can put down (i.e., give the seller before moving in), the lower your monthly payment will be. If you’ve been saving for a long time and want to purchase the whole house in cash (which some people are doing with tiny homes or smaller living opportunities), that will account for your entire budget.

    2. Have you selected a mortgage company? They will run your credit, assess your income and debts and other payments on cars, credit cards, etc., and determine the cost range of a house you can afford.

    3. Do you have student loans? Before getting approved by a mortgage company, make sure to have continued on-time payments on your student loans. Late payments on student loans are one of the most common ways people’s credit scores drop, which can inhibit how much you get approved for even if your income is consistent.

    4. Always over-budget: Once you’ve determined the budget for your house, don’t forget to account for out-of-pocket expenses to be paid up front. These will be needed in cash or check, typically, and often cover other important fees required for a safe and legal home transaction. (See “O” for more on out-of-pocket expenses.)

    5. Ask questions about the house: To get a better sense of what your monthly expenses will be, ask the current owner of the house. Make sure to factor in property taxes and monthly utilities. This can really help with your budget and ensure you don’t overextend.

    How to save for a deposit
  • C Waffle Page TMRW
    C is for ...

    Closing

    C is for ...

    Closing

    You've made it through the mortgage process and all the contingencies of the home have been met! Now it’s time to close, aka complete the sale of the house. This is the exciting part, especially for first-time homeowners.

    Depending on the state, closings typically occur 45 to 60 days following the offer being accepted (though delays do happen, especially during if something needs to be fixed during the inspection process). One of the last steps before closing is the final walk through, where buyers confirm the home is in the same condition as when they initially made their offer. This happens after any inspection items that were agreed upon have been resolved. Buyers and their agent can walk through and confirm everything within the home is still in working order.

    If it is, buyers head to the closing table where they will sign the mortgage paperwork and deed to the house. The title (statement saying you legally own the property) is also cleared and completed at this time. At the end of the meeting, you'll receive the keys to that new home.

  • D Waffle Page TMRW
    D is for ...

    Demolition

    D is for ...

    Demolition

    Demolition is the process of safely tearing down a building, structure or part of a house. Depending on the scope of the project, this could require expert engineering advice to ensure everything is done efficiently. Demo is a major step you will need to plan for if you’ve purchased a fixer-upper, are redoing certain rooms in the house that need to be gutted and restructured, or if you’re tearing down an old house to build a new one.

    Often when doing a demo on an older house, you will run into unexpected problems that you weren’t prepared for. It’s important to rectify these problems correctly, even though they’ll likely come at a cost, instead of taking shortcuts. These could lead to larger problems at higher costs down the line.

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if the house was built before 1978 it will likely have lead paint on the walls, even if painted over. Many houses may also have asbestos in the flooring or even under carpets. When demoing these homes, take adequate precautions like safely sectioning off rooms when tearing down or sanding walls, removing carpets, etc. If you have young kids, it may also be wise to find another place to stay during the demo process so no one’s breathing in toxic materials.

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  • E Waffle Page TMRW
    E is for ...

    Equity

    E is for ...

    Equity

    Equity is the difference between what your home is worth and what your mortgage costs. When you put down 20% to buy your home, you are starting off with 20% equity in your home. This amount will change along the way as you pay off more of your mortgage and when home prices increase.

    Think of your home as your savings account ( or bank). If you take out a home equity loan as your equity grows, you are pulling money out of your bank. Be careful of the change in the market; if you pull too much from your equity and home prices go down, you could have just emptied your bank account and now owe more than your house is worth.

  • F Waffle Page TMRW
    F is for ...

    FHA loan

    F is for ...

    FHA loan

    Often called an FHA for short, this is a mortgage loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration of the U.S. government that can help people with lower incomes obtain housing loans. An FHA appraisal ensures a wide range of safety features are met in the house. For example, if the home is built prior to 1978, they'll ensure that it has no chipping paint or that there are railings on any stairs with three or more steps.

    The FHA insures mortgages on single family homes, multifamily properties and other types of care facilities, like hospitals or residential homes. People who are interested to see if their income qualifies for an FHA loan (versus a loan from a conventional, non-government related mortgage company) can sometimes get lower mortgage rates and interest rates from the list of FHA-approved lenders throughout the U.S.

  • G Waffle Page TMRW
    G is for ...

    General contractor

    G is for ...

    General contractor

    A general contractor is an important person to hire for folks who plan to fix up a home with renovations or additions. If you don’t know much about construction and aren’t prepared for a do-it-yourself bathroom overhaul, you’re going to want to find a general contractor to help with all the interior or exterior construction projects (or, of course, building a new house if you’ve purchased a new property).

    The general contractor handles the building work, from basic carpentry to full renovations and additions.

    When looking to hire a contractor, it is important to get bids from multiple people and select someone you get along with. As a rule of thumb, try to

    speak to at least three different contractors before selecting one for the project.

    The right hire will offer peace of mind as they’ll handle the often overwhelming ins and outs of a build. GC’s, as they’re often called, manage and liaise between you and the permitting requirements, inspectors, contractors, framers and can help with budgeting for the right materials, which can be particularly helpful during the building shortages. The general contractor briefs you day-to-day and ensures the project moves along seamlessly and safely.

  • H Waffle Page TMRW
    H is for ...

    Homeowners association (HOA)

    H is for ...

    Homeowners association (HOA)

    In most townhome communities and developments with single family homes that are built by track home or production, you’ll run into the term homeowners association or HOA.

    Anytime you have an HOA, you’ll be paying an additional monthly fee, which may or may not be rolled into your mortgage. Before moving into a community with an HOA, be sure you’ve budgeted for it like you would for rent, utilities or other bills.

    HOAs are attractive to a lot of people, particularly those that are wary of the upkeep of owning a house. While the fee costs extra, it often covers landscaping, snow removal, sprinkler systems and offers community clubhouses, gyms, pools or playgrounds. Many of the typical homeowner duties are alleviated, but you pay for them and will have other limitations.

    HOAs have bylaws that vary from community to community and state to state. There are limitations to living in a community with an HOA, including regulations on what type of dog you’re allowed to own, whether or not you can install a hot tub or fire pit or the ability to rent out your home on Airbnb.

    Many may be wary of someone telling them what they are allowed to do in their own home, but they may be quick to appreciate that their neighbor’s house is always neat and tidy. No nearby eyesores allowed in an HOA.

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  • I Waffle Page TMRW
    I is for ...

    Inspection

    I is for ...

    Inspection

    Anytime you do a demolition or new construction on a home, you’re going to have to go through township and state inspections. It’s required by law to get building, plumbing, electric and fire inspections in most states. Any renovations you do will have to be brought up to the current safety codes, such as a balcony railing heights and widths, reworking old electrical systems, etc.

    When buying or selling a house in most states, the buyer is responsible for hiring a home inspector. They will check that the home is safe and up to code, and fill out a detailed form about everything in the home for the buyer to review. If something is wrong (bad water quality, for example), the buyers and sellers negotiate and often the seller will pay for the fix or come to an agreement, such as reducing the home price slightly for the buyer to remedy the issue in the future. (See “C” for Closing to learn more about the rights of the home inspection contingency.) Typically, buyers have about seven days after the inspection to walk away from the sale.

    During the sale process, buyers have the option to waive home inspection, which they’ll sometimes in a competitive market. The inspection still has to take place, but option to “waive” gives the seller the advantage of knowing that buyers won’t ask for reparations, depending on the agreement. If there is a major problem that arises, the buyer still has the right to terminate even if they’ve offered to waive it.

  • J Waffle Page TMRW
    J is for ...

    Journeyman

    J is for ...

    Journeyman

    You may see this term arise when looking for construction or electrical help on your house while working on a fixer-upper, addition or renovation. A journeyman applies to an experienced worker in a trade skill (manual labor, technical or contracting).

    “Journey-level experience applies to a person who has completed an apprenticeship program or is an experienced worker, not a trainee, and is fully qualified and able to perform a specific trade without supervision,” the U.S. Department of Labor Construction Guidelines stipulates.

    Journeymen (and women) may belong to a union. Regardless, when you see this qualification, you know your project is in experienced hands.

  • K Waffle Page TMRW
    K is for ...

    Kilowatts

    K is for ...

    Kilowatts

    Kilowatts is a measure of power or energy that is important for people who would like to equip their new home with a generator or an electric charging station for their car. People buy generators often live in wintry climates, areas that have storms or just like to have on hand in case they lose power. The generator will run the home for you, or particular parts of it.

    You need to make sure you have the right kind of kilowattage for any generator you’re getting in the home to power it up. Double check how many KW each major appliance needs to operate, add it up and ensure your home generator has enough KW to support them. If you get a smaller generator, choose what’s most important if you lose power. Typically, the fridge, hot water, septic system (if you have one) and heat or air conditioning are the most important things to keep running.

    If installing a home charger for your electric vehicle, you need to check if your electrical panel has enough power for it to operate. You may need to run an extra electrical line to get enough power. Check with EV manufacturers and the electric company, which may also give you a monthly discount on your utility bill.

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  • L Waffle Page TMRW
    L is for ...

    Lien

    L is for ...

    Lien

    When buying a home, the mortgage is actually a lien on the property. This means the bank has a vested interest in the property. If the homeowner does not pay their mortgage for a period of time, the home can be foreclosed on and the mortgage company will take it back from you.

    When looking to buy a home, pay for the title insurance to ensure that the house does not have a lien or judgement on it. Liens and judgements can be placed on the home or property by other companies, unpaid bills or individuals. If a lien is attached to the home or individual, it needs to be paid before closing is completed. Since the bank owns the house after the homeowner can no longer afford it, they are responsible for the remaining lien payments before a new buyer moves in.

  • M Waffle Page TMRW
    M is for ...

    Mortgage

    M is for ...

    Mortgage

    A mortgage is the loan homeowners borrow from the bank to purchase a new home. There are a myriad of terms and agreements on how it needs to be paid, depending on the person, the mortgage lender, credit scores, monthly income and other criteria. An amortization chart or calculator will show the breakdown of your payments. Anyone who trolls Zillow or Trulia will recognize this chart, in which you can enter the cost of the house, property taxes, down payment and interest rate for a general estimate of what a monthly payment might be (though, again, this will vary based on your personal financial details).

    You can shop around for the best mortgage company, but be careful about shopping around too much as you don’t want everyone running your credit. Each credit check can remove a few points from your score, so don’t go overboard. It is important to know what the lenders fees and rates are and if they fund their own loans.

    What is a mortgage?
  • N Waffle Page TMRW
    N is for ...

    New construction

    N is for ...

    New construction

    Sometimes, buying a new house means building it. There are two common ways to build your new home: custom and track. Here’s how to distinguish which option is best for you and your budget.

    Custom home building

    This is the best option for people who want to build a design or layout exactly how they want it. The buyer typically purchases the lot or land in this scenario. Ensure the use of land (residential, commercial and multiuse) is residential. Make sure you have utilities on the property: How far is the closest electric line? Does it run off of city water or well water? Does it have a septic system already installed or does it need one?

    Check the footprint or amount of square footage the physical building can take up on the lot. Some states have limitations or acts that can prohibit building more than a certain number of square feet, regardless of how big the lot is. This is often for conservation efforts, such as the The Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act in New Jersey.

    Track home building or production

    Purchasing a track or production home is like having a menu of houses where you get to choose certain features. It’s not as free-range as a custom home, but it will cost less, is far less work and you still get a new house. These are often advertised by large production builders, like NVR, Toll Brothers or Taylor Morrison.

    You can buy the house pre-construction, which means you buy it before it’s actually built and choose a range of interior options, like countertops, cabinetry, finished or unfinished basement. You have a specific floor plan in place and are often in a community of many other homes.

    You can also buy it move-in ready, where the home has been designed and built already but is brand new and ready for move-in.

    Home design trends 2021
  • O Waffle Page TMRW
    O is for ...

    Out-of-pocket expenses

    O is for ...

    Out-of-pocket expenses

    Out-of-pocket expenses for sellers

    Each town is individualized as to what they require from the seller. Some of these costs include

    Certificate of Habitability: $200 and $50 from the town

    Attorney fees: $750 to $1,500

    Realtor fees: 5-6% of contract price of house

    State Realty Transfer Tax: When you are moving out of the state, for example, New Jersey charges sellers 1% of sales price.

    Miscellaneous fees: Discharge of mortgage, payoff recording, overnight fees may cost around $295

    Out-of-pocket expenses for buyers

    Inspection fees: Can range anywhere from $350 to $600, most of which fall on the lower end at about $350 to $500

    Survey: $700

    Title Insurance: Approximately 1.25% of the selling price of the home

    Attorney fees: $1,500

    Mortgage fees: $1,000

    Escrow for taxes: 1/4 of taxes for the year, plus, two months in reserves

    Homeowners insurance: Must be paid a year in advance, plus two months in reserves

    Appraisal: $450

    Miscellaneous fees: Anything that is due within 60 days of closing is due at closing. For example, recording fees for the mortgages and deeds may be about $295.

  • P Waffle Page TMRW
    P is for ...

    Permits

    P is for ...

    Permits

    Anytime you do new construction, additions or are opening a wall for a renovation project, you need to get permits, which cost money (a few hundred to a few thousand based on the scope of the project). Permits are required so the town or municipality in which you’re living can approve of larger types of renovations. Towns with historic buildings often have stricter restrictions while other municipalities will stipulate additions to houses can’t exceed a specific size or height.

    To close out/complete the permit, you’ll need to get inspections. It is always a good idea when buying a home to contact the town that the home is in and ensure there are no open permits on the house.

  • Q Waffle Page TMRW
    Q is for ...

    Quality

    Q is for ...

    Quality

    When looking to buy, are you looking for an older house or a newer one? Older homes, some of which may be 100 to 200 years old in certain areas of the U.S., will have been built out of sturdy, quality products like solid oak, with wood trims like cherry or walnut and crown moldings. These can be beautiful, authentic touches because it’s a type of quality that now costs much more money to create.

    But with older homes, you will likely have true lumber, hand-hewed beams that, if you have to do work on the home in the future, may be difficult to match or will cost more money to find the same dimensional lumber. Some old foundations can present problems for new homeowners. Old stone, which is common in a lot of East Coast historic homes, may be more prone to damage or leaks.

    If high quality, well-crafted material is important to you when looking for a home, learn the difference between certain details like real wood trim or wood pulp (commonly called MDO or MDF). The latter is more brittle, can swell around moisture and is more susceptible to damage. MDO and MDF are cheaper options, so many times developers will opt to build with this material. But if you want the type of quality you can see and that will last over a longer period of time, learning more about wood pulp and real wood can be helpful.

    To do this, go into any large-scale construction store or lumber yard and you will be able to see, touch and feel the difference between these types of labeled woods. That way, when you’re browsing houses, you can decide if it’s important to opt for the one that’s built with a finer quality or not.

    PVC or Plastic exterior is more expensive but it doesn’t rot and lasts longer, and people who need to redo the siding of a house will often choose this option to be sure they don’t need to do more work over a long period. It will also look nice and sleek for curbside appeal.

    In new construction and remodeling, quality materials are going to be more expensive. However, they will likely last longer and create a look in the house that is noticeably well-crafted.

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  • R Waffle Page TMRW
    R is for ....

    Rent to own

    R is for ....

    Rent to own

    Spoiler alert: There really isn't a rent-to-own option. People sometimes think they can rent and then buy the home later. Landlords rarely will take rental payments and apply it to the home purchase. If it is a unique situation, there is a chance a homeowner who was in no rush to sell but wanted to eventually, may accept gradual payments in increments equal to a down payment before signing over the title permanently. This is, however, very rare and may only occur in a situation between friends or family.

    Sometimes, there is also an agreement can be made between the landlord and tenant that if the landlord ever decides to sell, they will go to the tenant for first right of refusal. This will give them the option to buy the home before it’s listed and open to other buyers.

  • S Waffle Page TMRW
    S is for ...

    Sustainable homes

    S is for ...

    Sustainable homes

    Sustainable homes include any type of residential structure that is built using energy efficient materials or designs to reduce the negative impact on the environment. This could be any number of initiatives, from a new build designed to run off of solar energy to an update on an existing home. There are energy efficient appliances and windows (look for the term Energy Star) and materials that are made without toxins.

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, building or purchasing an energy efficient home not only reduces your carbon footprint but also reduces the money you will spend on costly utilities, like heating and cooling. This department created the Home Energy Score as a system to measure how effective a home is at saving energy and money so that buyers, builders and owners can see how sustainable a home is.

    To help determine energy usage in a house, owners can hire an energy auditor to help assess what can be improved. Whether building a new house or updating an old one, some sustainable housing options include:

    Advanced house framing: Best for building a new home or an addition, this type of framing relies on engineering to reduce waste and how much lumber is used.

    Cool roofs: With a modern look and feel, these sleek reflective roofs have a very functional purpose. The material reflects the light and doesn’t absorb as much heat so houses in warmer climates stay cooler.

    Solar: One of the most well-known options to make a house more sustainable, solar panels use the power of the sun, depending on the weather conditions, to keep homes warm in winter and cool in summer.

    Straw bale homes: No, this isn’t a spin on the first little pig in the fairy tale. Straw bales were a popular material in home building from 1895 to 1940, and began to come back as an approved method of architecture in the '90s. There are many things that make this type of home difficult to create (from getting a mortgage approval to homeowner’s insurance and local municipalities), but if the method is achieved, it can be an interesting alternative to traditional structures and reduce one’s footprint.

    Ultra-efficient homes: These are buildings designed before they’re built with solar features and renewable energy based on the landscape, conditions and climate where it resides. “The intent is to reduce home energy use as cost effectively as possible, and then meet the reduced load with on-site renewable energy systems,” the Department of Energy said.

  • T Waffle Page TMRW
    T is for ...

    Taxes

    T is for ...

    Taxes

    When researching locations in which to buy a house, a big factor to consider is the cost of the property taxes. The cost of taxes, which are typically broken down into monthly payments along with your mortgage, varies by state and town.

    According to Wallethub, whose researchers analyzed tax data throughout the U.S. in 2020, the five states with the highest property taxes are New Jersey (topping the list with an average annual property tax of $8,362), Illinois, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont. The states with the lowest property tax is Hawaii, followed by Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana and the District of Columbia.

    Understanding tax rates and home prices is important, and folks looking to invest in owning property should consider both factors. Some states with high property taxes may have lower home prices, so they average monthly payment balances out. Illinois, for example, despite its expensive tax rate, has a median home price of just $194,500 versus Hawaii’s $615,300.

    This number a house can affect a buyer's buying power as it is also calculated into the monthly payments. High taxes could mean a lower purchase price on a house, where if you have lower taxes, you may be able to spend a little more on the home price.

    Veterans, disabled veterans and seniors will get tax breaks when buying a home. These breaks are usually given after closing and need to be applied for (they’re not automatic). Through the Veteran’s Association, all disabled vets will receive tax-free housing.

    Most homeowners can also get more money back on their tax returns for owning property or a home, which you do not get when renting. The amount varies, depending on income, how much the property is worth and other factors, so be sure to speak to your accountant or list these things when you file your taxes after buying a home.

  • U Waffle Page TMRW
    U is for ...

    Utilities

    U is for ...

    Utilities

    Here are different types of utilities you can expect:

    Oil: Powers heating system and the water in the house and is typically underground or stored in above-ground tanks. Underground tanks can be riskier because if there’s a leak, it contaminates the soil. Oil tanks are refilled by companies and can be paid upon refill or with a monthly average payment that gets adjusted yearly.

    Electric: Powers lights, air-conditioning, heat, appliances and electric cars.

    Gas: Powers cooking, heating, water heater, dryer and gas-powered appliances. When selling, buyers are often more interested in gas vs. oil. If there's a gas line in the street and you’re looking to flip the house, it can be worth the investment to convert the home from its outdated oil or electric system.

    Water: Water is either from a well system that's individual to the house or city water that you pay for monthly. Wells have to be tested before move-in and sellers are often responsible for the cost of fixing. If there’s hard water (too much minerality), you need to buy a water softener that’s filled with salt to lower minerality so pipes aren’t damaged and showers are better. Well water has to pass all primary state levels prior to closing.

    Trash: Most municipalities require trash bills, which are sometimes built into taxes.

    Sewer: You’ll be responsible for a monthly sewer bill from your city, which varies in cost.

    Septic maintenance: If you have a septic system, the maintenance is the most important part. Septic systems need to be pumped out by a professional company every two to three years, which costs a few hundred dollars each time. When buying, seeing “new septic” on the listing is a plus. However, if it hasn’t been maintained properly, young septics can fail (and old septics can pass). Maintenance is more important than the age of the system.

    If you’re buying a house, you have to do a septic inspection. If it fails or needs to be replaced, the seller is typically responsible for replacing the septic system. This can sometimes take months because of scheduling, may require the yard to be dug up completely and costs about $10,000 per bedroom. That's right: Septics are designed per bedroom in the house, not how many bathrooms. They are designed to hold for two people per bedroom. So a four bedroom septic can accommodate a household of eight people living in it.

  • V Waffle Page TMRW
    V is for ...

    Variance

    V is for ...

    Variance

    A variance has to do with zoning from the town. If you are doing work to your home outside of what your town has you zoned for, you need a variance. This usually requires you to send letters to surrounding homes within a certain radius, notifying the neighbors of what you would like to do and also advising them of the hearing date with the town zoning.

    If anyone living within a certain distance of your home has an objection to your request, they have the right to go to the zoning meeting and discuss their feelings as to why they don’t agree with the variance. For example: Your home may have a zoning requirement that it has to be set back from the road a certain amount of feet. You may want to put a front porch on the house, which brings it outside of the allowed frontage to the road. For this you need to ask special permission and obtain a variance. Installing a pool is another common example.

  • W Waffle Page TMRW
    W is for ...

    Water quality

    W is for ...

    Water quality

    Wells have to be tested before move-in and sellers are often responsible for the cost of fixing the water quality if there is anything harmful or problematic with the levels of minerals, Ph and other things. If there’s hard water (too much minerality), the homeowner may need to buy a water softener that’s filled with salt to lower minerality so pipes aren’t damaged and water doesn’t have a slight film (to keep it safe when showering or washing hands). It can make it feel like shampoo takes forever to rinse out!

    Once in a while, there can be contaminants. If you live in a drought area, there can also be limitations on your daily water usage that are smart to review before buying in certain areas.

  • X Waffle Page TMRW
    X is for ...

    Xtra costs

    X is for ...

    Xtra costs

    Extra costs will always come up, so always estimate high. That way, you are prepared and happy when you fall within budget. This is especially true when buying a foreclosure or a home in “as is'' condition. Go into a foreclosure anticipating the worst.

    When selling a home, go over with your realtor everything that will possibly be needed to address for a buyer to obtain a mortgage. It’s also wise to get a firm understanding of common deal killers that could come up during home inspection so you can be prepared financially and mentally if you’re asked to fix them.

    Work on a worst case scenario budget so you are prepared and know how much money you will owe, if buying, and can hopefully receive, if selling, by the time you get to closing.

  • Y Waffle Page TMRW
    Y is for ...

    Yard

    Y is for ...

    Yard

    When purchasing a house, you can update the interior and exterior to make it your own. However, you can not change the location or size of the yard. If it is important to you to have outdoor space, make sure you find just the right home with a yard that fits your wants and needs. Down the road, you can plan to landscape it how you want, plant grass or a garden or build a patio if it’s allowed. But you’ll (most likely) never be able to move your neighbor farther away. This is why it’s best to consider all facets of the home you’re perusing — inside and out!

    Ideas for outdoor spaces
  • Z Waffle Page TMRW
    Z is for ...

    Zoning

    Z is for ...

    Zoning

    Properties can be zoned as residential, commercial, mixed use or multifamily. If you are buying a home that is zoned commercial or mixed use and plan on using it as a residential home, you will need to share this zoning with your mortgage lender. When the appraiser goes to the house for the mortgage lender they will also contact the town and confirm the use.

    For example, if it is zoned as a commercial property but has been grandfathered in after a previous owner used it as residential, the appraiser will need to know.

    “If the home burns down and is rebuilt, how will the town require it be used.” Often, that is a principle purpose as to why buildings are categorized by zoning. Remember, the mortgage lender has a vested interest so these things are important.

    A non-conforming multifamily home will be met with the same question: If the home burns down, will it be allowed to remain a multifamily or will it have to go back to a single-family home. This is only true for a non-conforming multifamily homes that were not originally built for the intention of housing separate units.

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