Home Ownership, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

Life in the USA is a complete guide to American life for immigrants and Americans. All materials on this site Copyright © Elliot Essman 2014. All rights reserved.    Home    Back    Next

Life in the USA
American Community
Housing

Home Ownership
Home ownership is still the American dream. Homes are almost always purchased through real estate brokers and financed by financial institutions through mortgages. If you wish to purchase a home, you must first decide how much you can afford each month for mortgage payments, taxes, maintenance and utilities. You'll also need to save up for a down payment on the home, up to 25% depending on the rules of the mortgage lender.

Considerations. Once you determine your price range, you'll have to consider neighborhood, convenience, quality of the schools, and whatever other factors are important to you. If you don't mind the sound of airplanes flying overhead you can save money by buying a home near the airport (very convenient if you fly a lot).

Home Sales. Owners selling homes directly advertise by putting signs on their property or in newspapers. Brokers advertise also. Internet real estate advertising has become common. Houses with “Open House” signs invite you to visit to look at the house. Just like a used car, the home you look at may seem perfect but still have hidden defects and structural flaws, or need major redecorating once the family in the home moves all their furniture and fixtures out. You should look carefully for structural decay, areas that need paint, termite damage, worn wiring and rusting plumbing. To be really thorough, once you find a house that seems to suit you, you can hire an inspection company--professionals who can look through every part of the house and give you a detailed report on possible problems. You can find such a service in the Yellow Pages under “Inspection Bureaus.” Make sure to get an inspector who is independent of the owner and the real estate broker. With such a critical purchase, it pays to know as much as possible. If the owner refuses to allow an inspection or tries to discourage it, that may be a sign of possible hidden defects in the home.

Terms of Sale. When you decide to buy a home, you'll need to determine the terms of sale. The price is important, of course, but you'll also have to determine whether such items as fixtures, lamps and carpeting will remain. Don't leave anything to a handshake agreement; write it all down in a contract of sale. The expense of a lawyer is justified here. Once again, try to find a lawyer who is not connected with or recommended by the real estate broker.


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