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7 Tips for Improving Your Credit

By: G. M. Filisko

Here’s how to clean up your credit so you get the least-expensive home loan possible.

Getting the loan that suits your situation at the best possible price and terms makes homebuying easier and more affordable. Here are seven ways to boost your credit score so you can do just that.

1. Know your credit score
Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher, the better. They’re based on whether you’ve paid personal loans, car loans, credit cards, and other debt in full and on time in the past. You’ll need a score of at least 620 to qualify for a home loan and 740 to get the best interest rates and terms.
You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the major credit-reporting bureaus, Equifax (http://www.equifax.com), Experian (http://www.experian.com), and TransUnion (http://www.transunion.com). Access all three versions of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com (http://www.annualcreditreport.com). Review them to ensure the information is accurate.

2. Correct errors on your credit report
If you find mistakes on your credit report, write a letter to the credit-reporting agency explaining why you believe there’s an error. Send documents that support your case, and ask that the error be corrected or removed. Also write to the company, or debt collector, that reported the incorrect information to dispute the information, and ask to be copied on any materials sent to credit-reporting agencies.

3. Pay every bill on time
You may be surprised at the damage even a few late payments will have on your credit score. The easiest way to make a big difference in your credit score without altering your spending habits is to diligently pay all your bills on time. You’ll also save money because you’ll keep the money you’ve been spending on late fees. Credit card or mortgage companies probably won’t report minor late payments, those less than 30 days overdue, but you’ll still have to pay late fees.

4. Use credit carefully
Another good way to boost your credit score is to pay your credit card bills in full every month. If you can’t do that, pay as much over your required minimum payment as possible to begin whittling away the debt. Stop using your credit cards to keep your balances from increasing, and transfer balances from high-interest credit cards to lower-interest cards.

5. Take care with the length of your credit
Credit rating agencies also consider the length of your credit history. If you’ve had a credit card for a long time and managed it responsibly, that works in your favor. However, opening several new credit cards at once can lower the average age of your accounts, which pushes down your score. Likewise, closing credit card accounts lowers your available credit, so keep credit cards open even if you’re not using them.

6. Don’t use all the credit you’re offered
Credit scores are also based on how much credit you use compared with how much you’re offered. Using $1,000 of available credit will give you a lower score than having $1,000 of available credit and using $100 of it. Occasionally opening new lines of credit can boost your available credit, which also affects your score positively.

7. Be patient
It can take time for your credit score to climb once you’ve begun working to improve it. Keep at it because the more distance you put between your spotty payment history and your current good payment record, the less damage you’ll do to your credit score.

Other web resources
How FICO scores are calculated (http://www.myfico.com/CreditEducation/WhatsInYourScore.aspx)

Answers to frequently asked credit report questions (https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/helpfaq)

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who keeps a close eye on her credit scores. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Q-A Series – FIRST STEPS

Q. WHAT STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN TO SECURE A LOAN

The first step in securing a loan is to complete a loan application. To do so, you’ll need the following information.
– Pay stubs for the past 2-3 months
– W-2 forms for the past 2 years
– Information on long-term debts
– Recent bank statements
– tax returns for the past 2 years
– Proof of any other income
– Address and description of the property you wish to buy
– Sales contract

During the application process, the lender will order a report on your credit history and a professional appraisal of the property you want to purchase. The application process typically takes between 1-6 weeks.

Q. HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT LENDER FOR ME

Choose your lender carefully. Look for financial stability and a reputation for customer satisfaction. Be sure to choose a company that gives helpful advice and that makes you feel comfortable. A lender that has the authority to approve and process your loan locally is preferable, since it will be easier for you to monitor the status of your application and ask questions. Plus, it’s beneficial when the lender knows home values and conditions in the local area. Do research and ask family, friends, and your real estate agent for recommendations.

Q. HOW ARE PRE-QUALIFYING AND PRE-APPROVAL DIFFERENT

Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you maybe able to borrow. You can be ‘pre-qualified’ over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts, and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house.

Pre-approval is a lender’s actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling the financial records mentioned in Question 47 (Without the property description and sales contract) and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.

Q. HOW CAN I FIND OUT INFORMATION ABOUT MY CREDIT HISTORY

There are three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Obtaining your credit report is as easy as calling and requesting one. Once you receive the report, it’s important to verify its accuracy. Double check the “high credit limit,”‘total loan,” and ‘past due” columns. It’s a good idea to get copies from all three companies to assure there are no mistakes since any of the three could be providing a report to your lender. Fees, ranging from $5-$20, are usually charged to issue credit reports but some states permit citizens to acquire a free one. Contact the reporting companies at the numbers listed for more information.

CREDIT REPORTING COMPANIES
Company Name Phone Number
Experian 1-888-397-3742
Equifax 1-800-685-1111
Trans Union 1-800-916-8800

Q. WHAT IF I FIND A MISTAKE IN MY CREDIT HISTORY

Simple mistakes are easily corrected by writing to the reporting company, pointing out the error, and providing proof of the mistake. You can also request to have your own comments added to explain problems. For example, if you made a payment late due to illness, explain that for the record. Lenders are usually understanding about legitimate problems.

Q. WHAT IS A CREDIT BUREAU SCORE AND HOW DO LENDERS USE THEM

A credit bureau score is a number, based upon your credit history, that represents the possibility that you will be unable to repay a loan. Lenders use it to determine your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. The better the score, the better your chances are of getting a loan. Ask your lender for details.

Q. HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY SCORE

There are no easy ways to improve your credit score, but you can work to keep it acceptable by maintaining a good credit history. This means paying your bills on time and not overextending yourself by buying more than you can afford.

What if They Accept the Offer?

Congratulations, your offer has been accepted!

Over the next 30 to 60 days, your purchase will be pending and you will begin the escrow process. Typically, an offer will have several contingencies. Contingencies are terms and conditions written into a contract by the buyer or the seller, which must be met within specified timelines in order for the sale to be completed. Know this, contingencies are a homebuyer s best friend. When contingencies are not met, the sale is cancelled and your deposit money may be refunded.

Some common contingencies include proper financing being in place and conducting a home inspection. Without proper financing in place, you ll have a tough time paying for your new house! In addition, conducting a home inspection can re-open negotiations to pay for hidden problems the house may have  or terminate the sale entirely if truly serious problems are found.

There are many other contingencies that can be attached to the sale of a particular piece of property depending on the different needs of buyers and sellers. Again, a good real estate agent will suggest the contingencies that you should make as part of the offer.

During the sale pending period, you will also be provided with a number of disclosures relative to the sale of your new home. These disclosures run the gamut from information about the business relationships between your real estate agent and your lender, to natural hazards that may exist in and around your new home.

Two of the most important disclosures you will receive include:
Real Property Transfer Disclosure Statement This disclosure is completed by the seller. It tells you the physical condition of the property and potential hazards or defects that may be associated with it. While the seller is principally responsible for the disclosures presented in this document, the agent is also responsible for conducting a visual inspection of the property and disclosing any readily observable defects detected in the process. This document also discloses any special taxes, assessments and other factors that may have a material effect on the value or desirability of the property.

Agency Relationship Disclosure Your real estate agent is required to provide you with a written disclosure stating whom he or she represents in the transaction. The agent may represent you as the buyer exclusively, or the seller exclusively, or be a dual agent representing both you and the seller. You should carefully review and understand this disclosure as it has a material effect on the level of responsibilities that your agent owes to you.

Attaching excessive contingencies to an offer or sale in a hot real estate market can easily kill a deal. There may be several other buyers waiting in line with a shorter list of needs.

Home Buyer Hint
Depending on the location, age and other factors involved with the residential property that you are purchasing, additional disclosures may be required. If you have questions about disclosures, ask your real estate agent.

Downpayment Assistance Program (CHDAP)

We had some new changes to the mortgage loan that Prospect offers

California Homebuyer’s Downpayment Assistance Program (CHDAP)

The CHDAP provides a deferred-payment junior loan – up to 3% of the purchase price, or appraised value, whichever is less, to be used for their down payment and/or closing costs. This program may be combined with a CalHFA or non-CalHFA, first mortgage loan.

Review the sections below to find out more about the CHDAP program.

Program Eligibility | Borrower Contribution | Interest Rate | How to Apply

(CHDAP program)

PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY

Am I eligible to apply for this program?
Review the guidelines below for both “Borrower” and “Property” Requirements to determine if you may be eligible to apply for the CHDAP program. (Our Eligibility Calculator is also availalbe to easily determine program eligibility.)

Borrower Requirements

  • Whether you are using CHDAP with a CalHFA or non-CalHFA first mortgage, you must still meet all borrower eligibility requirements of CalHFA.
    • Conventional loans must follow CalHFA’s Cal30 borrower requirements.
    • Government-insured (FHA loans) must follow CalHFA’s FHA borrower requirements.
  • Your income must be less than the allowable CHDAP income limits.

For FHA, the Los Angeles Income Limits for the Homebuyer’s Downpayment Assistance Program CHDAP
based on persons in the household
1 person $51,550
2 people $58,900
3 people $66,250
4 people $73,600
5 people $79,500
6 people $85,400
7 call me

*In the case of conflicting guidelines, the lender must follow the more restrictive.

Property Requirements

  • Whether you are using CHDAP with a CalHFA or non-CalHFA first mortgage, you must still meet all property eligibility requirements of CalHFA.
    • Conventional loans must follow CalHFA’s Cal30 property requirements.
    • Government-insured (FHA loans) must follow CalHFA’s FHA property requirements.
  • The sales price of the home can not be above the allowable CHDAP sales price limits.

*In the case of conflicting guidelines, the lender must follow the more restrictive.

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(CHDAP program)

MINIMUM BORROWER CONTRIBUTION

Is there a minimum contribution that I need in addition to this down payment assistance?
When using a CHDAP loan, a minimum contribution is required from your own funds.  The contribution must be 1% of the sales price or $1,000, whichever is greater.

Please contact a CalHFA loan officer for complete details.

*In the case of conflicting guidelines, the lender must follow the more restrictive.

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(CHDAP program)

INTEREST RATE

What is the interest rate?
Interest rates will vary depending on your financial circumstances, lender fees, and other factors. Interest rates can also change daily. We recommend that you check with a CalHFA-approved loan officer to receive an accurate rate quote for this program.

CalHFA does not lend money directly to consumers. CalHFA works through and uses approved private lenders to qualify consumers and to make all mortgage loans. CalHFA purchases closed loans that meet CalHFA’s requirements. The fees consumers pay could be different depending on the lender and the program. View the sample Truth in Lending disclosure here.

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(CHDAP program)

HOW TO APPLY

How do I apply for this loan program?
Since CalHFA is not a direct lender, our mortgage products are offered through private loan officers who have been approved & trained by our Agency. These loan officers can help you find out more about CalHFA’s programs and guide you through the home buying process.

Visit the Find a Loan Officer tab, to contact a loan officer in your area.

What documents should I have ready when contacting a loan officer?
When initially contacting a loan officer, you may want to have this list of documents and information available to help answer questions that they will ask you:

  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Employment history
  • Previous tax returns

Questions to Ask When Choosing a REALTOR?

Make sure you choose a REALTOR who will provide top-notch service and meet your unique needs.

1. How long have you been in residential real estate sales Is it your full-time job While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate  like many other professions  is mostly learned on the job.

2. What designations do you hold Designations such as GRI and CRS  which require that agents take additional, specialized real estate training  are held by only about one-quarter of real estate practitioners.

3. How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year By asking this question, you ll get a good idea of how much experience the practitioner has.

4. How many days did it take you to sell the average home How did that compare to the overall market
The REALTOR you interview should have these facts on hand, and be able to present market statistics from the local MLS to provide a comparison.

5. How close to the initial asking prices of the homes you sold were the final sale prices This is one indication of how skilled the REALTOR is at pricing homes and marketing to suitable buyers. Of course, other factors also may be at play, including an exceptionally hot or cool real estate market.

6. What types of specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home You don t want someone who s going to put a For Sale sign in the yard and hope for the best. Look for someone who has aggressive and innovative approaches, and knows how to market your property competitively on the Internet. Buyers today want information fast, so it s important that your REALTOR is responsive.

7. Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction While it s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it s important to understand where the practitioner s obligations lie. Your REALTOR should explain his or her agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party.

8. Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and help with other things I need done Because REALTORS are immersed in the industry, they re wonderful resources as you seek lenders, home improvement companies, and other home service providers. Practitioners should generally recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with or receive compensation from any of the providers.

9. What type of support and supervision does your brokerage office provide to you Having resources such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney, and assistance with technology can help an agent sell your home.

10. What s your business philosophy While there s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what s important to the agent and determine how closely the agent s goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.

11. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction How frequently Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but it reflects your desires. Do you want updates twice a week or do you not want to be bothered unless there s a hot prospect Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a personal visit

12. Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of your three most recent clients
Ask recent clients if they would work with this REALTOR again. Find out whether they were pleased with the communication style, follow-up, and work ethic of the REALTOR .

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Simple Tips for Better Home Showings

1. Remove clutter and clear off counters. Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small decorative items. Put excess furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season clothing items that are cramping closet space. Don t forget to clean out the garage, too.

2. Wash your windows and screens. This will help get more light into the interior of the home.

3. Keep everything extra clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, mop and wax floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator. Polish your doorknobs and address numbers. It s worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it.

4. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Potpourri or scented candles will help.

5. Brighten your rooms. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets. Clean the walls, or better yet, brush on a fresh coat of neutral color paint.

6. Don t disregard minor repairs. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they ll give buyers the impression that the house isn t well-maintained.

7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, place a pot of bright flowers near the entryway.

8. Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.

9. Add a touch of color in the living room. A colored afghan or throw on the couch will jazz up a dull room. Buy new accent pillows for the sofa.

10. Buy a flowering plant and put it near a window you pass by frequently.

11. Make centerpieces for your tables. Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.

12. Set the scene. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. For example, in the basement you might display a chess game in progress.

13. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. Show off the view if you have one.

14. Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it s not in use.

15. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Put away those old towels and toothbrushes. When buyers enter your bathroom, they should feel pampered. Add a new shower curtain, new towels, and fancy guest soaps. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight.

16. Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If that s not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where they ll be to eliminate surprises.

17. Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. While a real estate salesperson will be on site during the showing or open house, it s impossible to watch everyone all the time.

18. Leave the home. It s usually best if the sellers are not at home. It s awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

8 Reasons Why You Should Work With a REALTOR

Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS . The term REALTOR is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are five reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR .

1. Navigate a complicated process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multipage settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.

2. Information and opinions. REALTORS can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell

3. Help finding the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR to find all available properties.

4. Negotiating skills. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

5. Property marketing power. Real estate doesn t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR , you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

6. Someone who speaks the language. If you don t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.

7. Experience. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you have done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS , on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.

8. Objective voice. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security  it s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, homebuying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they ll every make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

CalHFA Homeownership Programs Divison

The CalHFA Homeownership Programs Divison provides affordable housing opportunities by offering below-market interest rate mortgage loans to very low-to-moderate income first-time homebuyers. The Program strives to achieve availability of mortgage funds 365 days a year, an equitable geographic distribution of its loans throughout the state, and an equal balance between newly constructed and resale homes. There are several unique features and programs offered which may fit the need of the prospective buyer.

CalHFA establishes partnerships with lenders, local housing agencies, builder/developers, real estate professionals, and other intermediaries in order to develop and deliver its programs. This collaborative approach helps expand homeownership opportunities by maximizing the collective financial resources available to borrowers.

The Homeownership Programs division offers information on:

Loans

  • Programs (CalHFA and Prop. 46 Programs)

Mortgage Loan Programs:

  • Homeownership Mortgage Loan Program
  • Builder-Lock (BLOCK) Program
  • Energy Efficient Mortgages
  • HomeChoice Program Information
  • Mortgage Insurance
  • Partnership with Southern California Home Financing Authority (SCHFA)
  • Self-Help Builder Assistance Program
  • Single Loan (SL) Process

Down Payment Assistance Programs:

  • Affordable Housing Partnership Program (AHPP)
  • California Homebuyer’s Downpayment Assistance Program (CHDAP)
  • CalHFA Housing Assistance Program (CHAP)
  • Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program (ECTP)
  • High Cost Area Home Purchase Assistance Program (HiCAP)
  • Homeownership In Revitalization Areas Program (HIRAP)
  • Oakland Teacher Program
  • School Facility Fee Down Payment Assistance Program (SFF)

If you are interested in a partnership with the Homeownership Division, call 916.324.8088, 800.789.2432 or visit their website www.calhfa.ca.gov.

HOUSING PRIMER

Tips for Making Sure Your Contractor Measures Up

10 Tips for Making Sure Your Contractor Measures Up…

  1. Hire only licensed contractors.
  2. Check a contractor’s license number online at www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752).
  3. Get at least three bids.
  4. Get three recent references and visit them to see how the work was done
    from each bidder and review past work in person.
  5. Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you completely understand the terms.
  6. Confirm that the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
  7. Never pay more than 10% down of $1,000, whichever is less. Don’t pay in cash.
  8. Don’t let payments get ahead of the work.
  9. Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments.
  10. Don’t make the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job.
The Contractor may not be happy with these, but if they’re honest it won’t be a problem for them

 

What a Home Inspection Should Cover

Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase.

For more information, try the virtual home inspection at www.ASHI.org, the Web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Structure: A home s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.

Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.

  • Doors and windows
  • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Attached porches, decks, and balconies

Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.

Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.

Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating: The home s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.

Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.

Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:

  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Garage doors and garage door systems

Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.

Fireplaces: They re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors (www.AHSI.org)

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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