This program is designed to allow sorority member, family, friends and the communities we serve to be trained on three phases of Home Ownership. Information is available on any one or all three phases

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Looking At Homes

While there's no substitute for a professional home inspection , you can do your own research while looking at houses. Be observant and ask questions of the owners or their agent. Some things to look for include:

  • Cracks and shifting. Is the foundation in good shape or are there cracks?

  • Leaks and water marks. Look around eaves and downspouts outside the house and around windows and ceilings inside the house.

  • Damp smells and mildew stains. Does the basement look or smell damp? Are the owner's belongings stored off the basement floor?

  • Drafts. Is the house tightly sealed? Are there drafts coming from windows, doors, or crawl spaces? Ask to see the energy bills.

  • Condition of the roof. What is the age and condition of the roof?

  • Landscaping and property issues. Does the drainage lead away from the house? Is it in good condition? Are there soggy spots on the lawn? Are any trees too close to the house, including unhealthy or dead trees? Are decks, patios, or porches in good condition?

  • Quality of construction. Are there nail pops? Do the floors or stairs creak or give in when you walk on them?

  • Plumbing. Is the water clear and odor-free? How's the water pressure? Are there strange "knocking" or "groaning" noises when you turn the water on?

  • Septic Tank. If there is a septic tank, how old is it? Has it been regularly maintained? Are there soggy patches in the yard that could indicate septic problems?

Most homeowners are honest about any problems when trying to sell their homes, but it doesn't hurt to ask questions and look around. For instance, if a cutting board's in an odd place on the counter, move it to make sure it's not hiding a crack or burn mark. If a chair's in a strange place, check to see if it's hiding a carpet stain.

Older Homes

Older homes can be charming but you should be aware of special issues with them so you're not surprised once you own the home.

Ask about:

  • The foundation. Look to see if the roof line and porches are parallel or sagging. Are the steps pulling away from the foundation?

  • Lead paint. Older homes often have lead paint. By law, sellers must disclose the possibility of lead paint, but also make sure your home inspector looks for this.

  • Electrical wiring. Has the wiring been updated? Are there three-prong outlets? Do the lights flicker?

Be sure to discuss any special issues with your home inspector if you're considering buying an older home.

Learn more about lead paint and other home-related hazards from the

US Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD) at

Find a Real Estate Agent

One common way people find homes in their price range is by using a real estate agent. The agent can look for homes that meet your needs and financial circumstances, and can help you narrow your choices. Unless you decided to hire a buyer's agent (see adjoining column), the seller pays the agent's fee, so there's no cost for you.

How to find a real estate agent

Ask your family and friends for referrals. You can also look at newspaper ads for "open house" listings and talk with the professionals showing houses. You'll want to choose an agent who makes you feel comfortable, can provide the knowledge and services you need and most importantly will be respectful of your housing budget.

What services are usually offered by real estate agents?

Real estate agents can help you find the kind of home you want, examine comparable homes, and compare different neighborhoods. When you're ready to make an offer on a home , an agent will usually handle the negotiations with the seller, including presenting your bid. Your agent can also refer you to a mortgage lender , although you should still shop around. The lender will give you a pre-approval letter , handle pre-qualification, and help you secure mortgage financing .

What questions should you ask before choosing a real estate professional?

  • How long has the real estate agent been in the real estate business?

  • Is this person a full-time agent?

  • Is the real estate agent familiar with your preferred community?

  • How many homes has the real estate agent sold in the past year?

  • What's the average sale price of those homes?

  • Does the real estate agent specialize in homes in your price range?

  • Does the real estate agent usually work with sellers or buyers?

  • How many buyers is the real estate agent presently working with?

  • Is the real estate agent acting as an exclusive "buyer's agent, meaning that they work exclusively with people like you who are interested in purchasing a home, as opposed to property owners who are selling a home.

  • How many sellers is the real estate agent presently working with?

  • What are the real estate agent's strengths?

  • Will the real estate agent offer you 3 homebuyer references?

  • For how long will the agent's contract with you be valid


Find a real estate agent in neighborhoods across the country with the

  • National Association of Realtors

  • National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals at

  • National Association of Real Estate Brokers at

  • Asian American Real Estate Association of America at

What's a buyer's agent? A buyer's agent is a real estate professional contracted and paid for by a buyer. This agent solely represents your interests as the buyer.
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