Home Buyers’ Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ For Home Buyers

  1. What are closing costs? “Closing costs” is a collective term for fees charged to close the loan. These usually include attorney fees, title examination fee, appraisal, credit report, intangibles tax, loan origination fee, underwriting fee, tax service fee, administration fee, flood certification fee, GA residential loan fee, and deed recording fee. The total cost for these items is usually 2-2.5% of the loan amount.
  2. Who pays the closing costs? The seller or buyer can pay these costs. They can also be split between the two parties in any ratio as agreed. Normally, the closing costs are viewed as the buyer’s responsibility since the majority of these costs arise from fees associated with the buyer’s new loan.
  3. What happens to my earnest money? The earnest money is being held in an account in the buyer’s name. If you default on the contract, that money is relinquished to the seller as damages — because working with you, without the sale, may have caused them to lose a potential sale during that timeframe.
  4. How much less than list price will a seller usually take? The closing price is typically within 95-97% of the list price. This can vary depending on the seller’s motivation and how close the list price is to market value. An experienced agent will be able to assess each situation and offer useful advice. Although high-volume new home builders may not reduce the sales price, they may offer other incentives – such as paying closing costs or including upgrades.
  5. What appliances and other items stay with a home? Typically dishwashers, stoves/ovens, and other built-in appliances remain with the home. Washer & dryers, refrigerators, and window treatments are almost always the personal property of the seller. For any personal property included with the sale, be sure your agent lists them on a Personal Property Agreement attached to the contract. This will avoid misunderstandings.
  6. How can I determine the average gas and electric bills for a particular home? Utility companies usually provide this information upon request. Since you don’t know where the seller set the thermostat, your utility costs may vary.
  7. How do I determine accurate property boundaries? The only way to know is to order a property survey. The cost is typically $375-450.
  8. How do I know if a home has ever had termites? Refer to the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement. The standard language in the Purchase and Sale Agreement no longer requires the seller to provide an Official Georgia Wood Infestation Report. If this report is available, it will describe any current or previous termite activity. If your seller doesn’t have a termite report, you should consider having one done yourself.
  9. After I sign the contract, when may I move in? The time frame is negotiable but the average is just over forty days. For vacant homes, some lenders can have you ready to move in within 17 days.
  10. How long does a typical closing take? Cash closings can take as little as 20 minutes! With financing, the closing will usually take just over an hour.
  11. Should I buy a stucco home? If you hire a professional stucco inspector, have the seller make the recommended corrections, pay a fair price and consider a Moisture Free Warranty — it can be a great choice. See the Stucco section for detailed information.
  12. How can I learn more about the schools for a particular area or specific home? You can view our school district maps, but be sure to verify the public school district of a particular address by calling the Fulton County Board of Education (404-768-3600). For more school information, visit our School Information Section.
  13. Should I test for radon? Yes, even those homes that do not have basements should be tested. To learn more about radon and testing, visit the EPA site for radon testing. The chances are low that the house will have a problem, but you should test. The quick test (48-hour test) should cost around $175 if you have a company do it, but you can do it yourself with a 4-6 week home radon test through the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service for $10.