frequently asked questions

Is there a difference between a REALTOR and a Real Estate Agent?

   There is a big difference between a REALTOR and a real estate agent. In Pennsylvania, a real estate agent is licensed by the State Real Estate Commission. A REALTOR is licensed by the State Real Estate Commission, but is also a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, as well as a local board (The Pike/Wayne Association of Realtors.) A REALTOR adheres to a strict Code of Ethics. When buying and selling a home, look for a REALTOR, not just a real estate agent.

When purchasing a home what goes and what stays?

   Generally speaking all items that are physically attached to a home are expected to stay, unless otherwise noted. The items that would normally stay would be all lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, kitchen appliances, washer and dryer, draperies and blinds. The best approach is to prepare a written document itemizing all fixtures included in the contract to purchase.

Is it legal to make an oral offer to purchase a property?

   Yes, it is legal to make an oral offer. However, it is not advisable. Most sellers do not take verbal offers seriously and usually will not negotiate to a lower price. The best approach would be to make an offer to purchase with an earnest deposit. That way the seller knows you are making a bonafide offer and will think more seriously about negotiating to a lower price.

What’s better - a "stick built" home or a modular home?

   A case could be made for both sides. A modular home is constructed indoors and has built in quality control and cost control measures. A "stick built" or conventionally built home usually is more customized and has more options than modular construction. If you have simple tastes and can live with a standardized floor plan without changes, a modular home may be the best choice. However, if you want a customized home with optional features, a stick built home would be a better buy.

What are the pros and cons of a 30 year loan vs a l5 year loan?

   A 15 year loan usually has a lower interest rate than a 30 year loan. In addition, over the lifetime of a 15 year loan you would pay substantially less interest than a 30 year loan. However, on a 15 year loan the monthly payments are higher and there is less tax deductible interest. A 30 year loan is the most common mortgage in the United States. There are considerable tax benefits, especially in the early years. The disadvantage of the 30 year loan is slow equity buildup.

What does it mean when a purchaser buys a property in "As Is" condition?

   When a property is sold "As Is" it means that the seller makes no warranty as to its condition. It puts the buyer on notice that the seller makes no promises whatsoever. A property sold "As Is" would normally indicate that the sale is made at a discounted price because of possible defects that a seller does not want to fix. It is advisable that when purchasing an "As Is" property the buyer should have the home carefully inspected by a reputable building inspection agency and have several bids from contractors to determine what work needs to be completed.

What are "hidden costs" when buying a home?

   When purchasing a home there are a number of "hidden costs" a buyer should be aware of. First, in addition to the purchase price of the home, a buyer must pay a 1% transfer tax on all homes purchased in Pennsylvania. Second, a buyer needs a title search, title insurance and a home inspection. The mortgage lender may also get a fee. When purchasing a home in Pennsylvania a REALTOR is required to provide you with an "Estimated Closing Statement" so you have a clear understanding of all hidden costs.