8 Important Things to Know Before Buying a Home in Pennsylvania

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Looking for a new home in Pennsylvania? We've got a checklist of all the essential things to know when buying a home in the Keystone State.

Buying a home in Pennsylvania is exciting, and it's a time that calls for a celebration. Taking the steps to close one chapter and begin a new one is sometimes difficult. But knowing that your new life in an amazing Pennsylvania home is about to begin is enough to give you the push you need to take those steps.

And although buying a new home brings you so many wonderful emotions, it's also an occasion that you should be well prepared for. Don't dive into the process without having a good understanding of what to expect. There might be more to the buying process than you imagine. 

Not doing your homework beforehand may lead to negative surprises and unnecessary stresses. To avoid this from happening and to ensure a smooth process that will be a happy memory to never forget, there are 8 important things you should know before buying a home. Continue reading to learn more!

1. Understand Your Finances

Before you even begin the home-buying process, understand your finances. It's important to do this before you start looking at houses as well. You won't want to make the mistake of finding your dream home, but later learn that it's not within your budget.

Other than determining your financial situation and creating a budget, you should also take a look at your credit score. Reviewing your credit score lets you know if you qualify for a loan. Most lenders require you to have a specific credit score or higher to qualify for a home loan. 

Also, keep in mind that when purchasing a home, it's usually required that you put down 20% of the total cost as a down payment. Lastly, it's important that you take into consideration all of the other monthly payments that come with owning a house. These payments include home maintenance, utility bills, and many other charges. 

2. Find a Good Real Estate Agent

Finding a good real estate agent to work with will benefit you in more ways than just one. Real estate agents know the process and help you understand the ins and outs of it. Things can get complex, and there's also a lot to learn about a house and the surrounding area before making the purchase. 

Here are several ways that a real estate agent can help you:

  • He or she will know the community, can compare house prices, and knows the market's condition

  • He or she will take your given information and use it to find a home that meets your budget and needs

  • He or she will contact home inspectors, mortgage brokers, and other professionals that you may need

  • He or she will prepare your offer and handle all the necessary paperwork

  • He or she will play a role in the negotiation of the final deal

When deciding on a real estate agent, be sure that they know the neighborhood and have experience and good references or reviews. 

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage 

Now that you have a better understanding of your finances, it's time to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Talk to your lender about your budget, credit score, and other factors. He or she will work with you to put together the best loan for your situation.

Information that you'll need to give your lender for pre-qualification is as follows: your income, your debt, list of all assets in your name, and later on a credit check. Pre-approval happens when a qualified lending professional verifies all of this information.  

4. Know the Seller Disclosure Statement Requirements 

The seller's property disclosure statement form, created by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission, requires that sellers provide detailed information about the physical condition to the buyer. This is a state law in Pennsylvania.

Concerns covered under this form are…

  • Defects in the plumbing, electrical, and other systems in the property

  • Contents in the property such as appliances and if they need repairs or replacements

  • The availability of working smoke detectors

  • Homeowner's association fees and deed restrictions

  • Property details such as the age of roof shingles, type of sewage system, structural additions to the property, and more 

The seller disclosure statement form is a huge advantage for buyers because it brings awareness to issues that you may not have seen just from looking at a property. 

5. Have a Home Inspection Done

Any house that you purchase will most likely need some type of repairs. Having a home inspection done gives you a much better idea of the house's condition and what type of repairs it needs.  

The bigger issues to be on the lookout for are as follows: 

  • Foundation, floors, walls, and structural integrity

  • Termites and other pests

  • Conditions leaving a possibility for mold growth

  • Drainage, erosion, and soil settlement issues

  • Heating and cooling, plumbing, electrical, and other home system issues

Some bigger issues found during an inspection may open the door to negotiation with the seller.

6. Complete a Real Estate Purchases Agreement

This is a legal document that includes all of the terms and conditions of the real estate transaction. It should be signed by both the seller and the buyer. It must also include the offer to sell or purchase, the accepted offer, the final sale price, and a detailed description of the property. 

Your real estate agent will help you through this process and provide you with the proper form. 

7. Have a Title Insurance Policy

In most cases, the mortgage company requires a title insurance policy. This policy is used to protect you against adverse claims by lien holders or previous owners. The title company will perform a search before it offers coverage. 

If the title search comes back with any problems, these should be corrected by the seller. 

8. Understand the Closing Process

Once you've found your home, you'll have 30 days to close. Remember to include closing costs into your budget. There will be a Pennsylvania state deed transfer tax, and the state of Pennsylvania charges 1% of the sales price. 

The city and the school district charge 1% between them. Although, these percentages can change and are dependent on the sales contract. 

Have a "One-Up" on Buying a Home in Pennsylvania 

If you're planning on buying a home in Pennsylvania, then it's important to keep these 8 pieces of information in mind. Know what to expect and come prepared to have a stress-free and exciting home-buying experience. And to be sure that everything is handled properly, contact Palmer Realty today to see how we can help you!