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What You Need to Know

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The home buying process is one of discovery. Throughout, you will receive crucial information on the condition of the property, from its physical attributes to matters affecting the quality of title. Piece by piece, you will learn what you need to know to make an informed purchase. Following is an explanation of the most significant parts of the puzzle.

Seller's Disclosure

Pennsylvania law requires sellers of real property to furnish prospective buyers with a "Seller's Real Estate Disclosure" (SRED), in which the seller describes important information about the property, including any known current defects or problems, as well as previous matters that may have since been corrected.

If the SRED describes uncorrected conditions or defects, the buyer may be able to negotiate to have the seller correct the problems prior to settlement, reduce the purchase price, or receive a credit from the seller at settlement, to allow the buyer to make the repairs after settlement.

Home Inspection

Just as important as the SRED is the buyer’s home inspection. While the SRED documents the property’s condition to the knowledge of the seller, a home inspection provides the buyer with the additional insight of an impartial expert.

The home inspector will provide a written report which will advise you of the physical condition of accessible areas of the property, and suggest needed repairs. The inspector will check the overall structural, foundation, roof, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, insulation, ventilation, electrical, plumbing, heating/cooling, water and sewer systems.

The report will also identify areas of the property that could not be inspected, and may recommend additional inspections by other experts for special items, including roof, foundation, soil, drainage and swimming pools.

While it is not required that buyers attend inspections, it's strongly recommend, since it presents a valuable chance to learn a great deal about the property. The inspection also provides a great opportunity to hear an objective opinion about the condition of the property, and is a good time to ask general, maintenance questions of an expert.

Pest Control Inspection

Buyers should have the property inspected by a licensed pest control operator (PCO). In addition to identifying active or past termite or other pest infestations, PCOs are also trained to look for dry rot, usually caused by wood has been in continuous contact with water. If any condition is discovered in a pest control report, it should be treated and re-inspected.

Environmental and Health-related Tests

Buyers should test for the presence of radon, asbestos and lead paint in the property, and determine the need for removal, containment or control. If the property is served by a well and/or septic system, additional testing, inspection and evaluation will be required.