If you are buying a single or multi-family home, and it is not brand new construction, get a home inspection! That’s right! Unless you are an engineer, or have 20 years of experience as a general contractor, get a home inspection! I would prefer it be by a licensed engineer. Most engineers charge comparable rates to home inspection companies and are better able to tell you about structural issues.
You also should make sure that the home you are buying is the home on file with your local building department. You would be surprised how many municipalities have shoddy records. You should be less surprised to realize that many homeowners add bathrooms, or even entire kitchens without ever filing a building permit. If you purchase a home and these additions are not discovered until after the closing, the cost and headache to correct these issues is now yours!
Additionally, you should have a recent survey. If a recent survey cannot be located by the title company, you should pay for a brand new one. If you are getting a mortgage loan to purchase the property, most lenders will require a survey that is less than 10 years old. A survey can disclose additions that were not on the original plans, encroachments onto your property by your neighbors, or vice versa. A proper survey will also help you ensure that your property complies with all municipal set backs.
Forget what you know about “grandfathered” properties. Simply put, nothing is grandfathered. If a property predates the zoning code of the municipality, the zoning code will not apply. Your home might be referred to as “grandfathered”, but legally, it is a “non-conforming” or “conforming” pre-existing use. You are purchasing real estate for 6, 7 or 8 figures. This is not the time to “not waste money”. This is the time to carefully spend money to protect your investment and verify that what you are buying is what you are buying!
I recently represented a purchaser who was purchasing a strip mall with cash and did not require a mortgage. He wanted to close right away. He did not want a new survey. He did not want the title company to do municipal searches. Basically, he believed he was getting a steal. I insisted on the municipal searches. The title report indicated that a laundromat had no certificate of occupancy. The utility company did not sign off on the gas dryers. From a perfect deal, my client decided not to purchase the property.
Inspections should be done for termites, radon gas, mold, or any other issue brought up by your home inspector/engineer. The time to do these inspections is before you buy the property, when you can negotiate reductions in the purchase price based upon the presence of radon gas, or termites. Most of my work is in New York City.
However, for purchases in counties north of Westchester, you might also want to inspect the septic tank, the well, and perhaps have an exterminator inspect to see if there are open areas that should be sealed prior to closing. The reason for this is I recall a story where a couple moved into their new home only to find out that the first night must be spent sharing the home with their new pet squirrels!
We enable purchasers to focus on what they do best by permitting them to leave the purchase process to us. We work with your lender, Realtor, title company, and surveyor to ensure that your property is free from any liens or municipal violations. Our concierge practice eliminates stress and overwhelm.
By entrusting the process to us, you can focus on your career or business and receive regular updates in a systematic and organized manner. This makes purchasing a home an exciting and enjoyable process. Our Platinum Property Transfer System enables you to purchase real estate without even having to come to the closing. After the closing, we email you a copy of your deed. Any unused money is refunded by return bank wire. We also provide you with copies of all closing documents in a professionally sealed binder.
John has written an e-book, Big Apple Guide to NY Real Estate Transactions. It is available to answer questions that you may still have. Please provide your first name and email in the box below to download it now. We are attorneys and not salespeople. Nobody will ever call. There is no obligation. John simply asks that you email him to tell him what you liked or did not like about the book.