Your home will be one of your most important investments you will ever make in your life—it’s only natural that you develop a lot of questions, as you should! Purchasing a home requires lots of research and careful decisions, and as you dive in, you may find many parts of it foreign and somewhat confusing.
You’re not the only one scratching your head. Here are some common FAQs we hear a lot about buying your first piece of Boston real estate (plus the answers our expert buyer’s agents give!)
How long is the purchase process once I pick a Boston home?
There are lots of variables that contribute to the timeline. It can honestly be as short as two weeks or as long as two months from the time the offer is accepted to the day the papers are passed. If you’re purchasing without a mortgage, the process is naturally going to be shorter, but that’s not the only factor that determines the purchase process! You have to consider:
- Loan type
- Property type
- Lender type
- Inspection issues
- Negotiation time
- And the seller’s time frame to vacate the premise.
If you have a very specific deadline for taking ownership of your new home, that’s the type of thing your real estate agent needs to know right away when you start looking for houses together. That way your expectations are perfectly in line!
Do I need an attorney to purchase a home?
Massachusetts law does require an attorney to preside over residential real estate closings. They’ll be able to review and negotiate any terms in the contract, perform a thorough title examination, check documentation for deficiencies, and supervise the entire closing process so your purchase is well taken care of and properly recorded, financially.
What does it mean to certify title to the property?
Owning a home means a different “type” of ownership than other types of property. It’s typically determined by documents recorded at the Registry of Deeds, and it can even be divided into smaller parts between different people, and even between present rights and future rights.
Because of all this, a lawyer will certify that the seller has a clear record title. This can reveal influential defects in the chain of the title, so it’s important for you to establish the state of the seller’s title before you buy.
If I buy a condo, do I need insurance in addition to the Condominium Master Policy?
Your individual condo may or may not require this insurance. While it’s not necessary, it’s highly recommended to insure the building against liability claims and loss of the entire condominium building. However, it does not insure you as the owner against liability claims, the interior of your individual unit, or your possessions—so you’ll need a separate condo unit insurance policy to cover those areas. A representative from Titan Insurance is always in our office to help answer questions and provide coverage if needed.
Should I find a home to purchase before I sell my house? Or sell my home first?
This all depends on your own personal circumstances—it can work either way you need, depending on your mortgage terms and the amount of cash you have available for a down payment if you haven’t sold your home yet.
This may be difficult to determine on your own. We highly recommended you contact an agent to help you perform any on-site consultation of your home in addition to your agent’s knowledge on the current Boston real estate market. With their expertise, you’ll be sure to have a seamless transition to your new home.
Can I inspect a home before I make a purchase?
Absolutely! The ability to inspect a home should be included as part of the offer, usually as a “contingency.” You’d be given a specific amount of time (typically around a week after the offer acceptance) to hire a licensed inspector. This can cost anywhere between $350-$700, depending on the size of the property. We also recommend that you be present during the inspection to learn about potential problems with the home and ask any questions. If there are any major problems with the home that were not covered during the negotiation, you’ll have the chance to open the floor again for renegotiation.
What is a “short sale?”
A short sale refers to the sale of real estate when the sales price is less than the value of the existing loans on the property. This happens because the sale payments don’t fully pay off existing loans, and the lenders accept a discounted payoff to fully satisfy the debt.
They were very common after the recession in 2008, but now practically don’t exist in the Boston area due to property values rising so dramatically.
How much should my down payment be?
To be guaranteed the best rate for your loan, you can expect to put down 15-20% toward your purchase. But like many parts of buying a Boston home, it varies quite a bit and depends on lots of different variables. Some programs and loans might allow you to put down as little as 3.5%. It’s best to speak with a qualified mortgage professional to learn what your options are. Our agents can provide you with names of lenders other clients have successfully used in the past.
The Bottom Line
We’ve only covered a fraction of the many questions our home buyers are asking. Some of your questions may be the same, while you may also have a handful of unique questions of your own! To ensure that you have all inquiries addressed, hire an agent to handle your unique needs. Contact one today!