Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on buying a home for the first time. The first part ran on Nov. 2.

As part of your offer to purchase your home, it’s always a good idea to hire a professional home inspector to find any major defects in the home involving its mechanical systems, plumbing, electrical wiring, structural issues, and environmental concerns. Relying on a professional inspector will help to eliminate existing and/or future problems and associated repair costs that you may not be aware of at the time of purchase. Once again, having a player on your team who can provide this kind of information will allow you to make a more informed decision to purchase, negotiate a better price, or move on to another property.

When purchasing a home, it is always important to make sure you are paying a fair price for the property. As part of the loan process, your bank will hire an independent licensed appraiser to conduct a physical inspection of the property and prepare a formal appraisal report indicating its current market value. An experienced real estate agent or Realtor will include wording in the purchase offer that requires the appraisal value to be equal to or greater than the purchase price. If the appraisal value is less than the purchase price, the buyer normally has the right to renegotiate the purchase price or to cancel the transaction. Unless there are special circumstances, it is never wise to purchase property above its market value.

In addition to getting an appraisal, it’s always prudent to require that the seller hires a licensed surveyor who will locate the property boundary points and make sure there are no legal issues involving encroachments or setbacks, which may jeopardize your ability to finance the purchase of the home.

The final player on your team is the escrow/title officer, who gets involved early in the process as well as at closing. The title company normally provides you and the bank with a title report that indicates all outstanding encumbrances and liens that affect title to the property. When buying property, you always want clear and marketable title. If you purchase property without clear and marketable title, you may become responsible for a legal or financial obligation created by the former owner. You never buy property without having a professional examine the title to the property you are purchasing.

While buying a home for the first time may seem daunting, the stress and anxiety associated with the process can be minimized once you understand the process involved and put together a winning team of professionals. So there’s your team, Captain Homebuyer, a team comprising real estate professionals whose knowledge and experience in finance, sales, home inspection, survey, appraisal, and title are waiting to make the American dream a reality for you and your family!


Christopher Murphy is chairman of the Guam Real Estate Commission and president of the The Real Estate Professionals.

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