Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
There are three potentially costly mistakes that you can make when buying a home:
Years ago, my wife and I put a contract on a home in a rural area of Maryland. We had it inspected only to find that the roof was about to fall in and repairs would be a serious undertaking. I had nightmares of structural engineers, soaring cranes, and heavy roof beams swinging in the wind—in addition to the astronomical bills we would face.
Needless to say, we were relieved to know that we could cancel our contract and get our deposit back. We got off lucky, without sinking our hard-earned savings into costly repairs. Unfortunately, not everyone is so fortunate.
Home inspection basics
The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating and central air conditioning systems (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors; and the foundation, basement, and structural components.
This written report can be used as a road map to prepare your home for sale or, if you are a buyer, to negotiate a purchase with the owner.
The report is also a terrific guide that can help you plan for future repairs and maintenance. For example, the report will tell you the age of your air conditioning system, hot water heater, boiler, and other major systems. You can save money and avoid breakdowns by planning the replacement of big-ticket items over time, and you can learn what repairs you will be able to do yourself—and which will be better left to a professional.
Special problems: Radon and mold
Radon. Be sure to hire an inspector who can check and test for radon if it occurs in your area. Radon, which comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water, gets into the air you breathe and can be trapped in your home.
Radon moves up through the ground and enters your home through cracks and penetrations in the foundation and concrete slab and through well water. It is estimated to cause between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year—more than drunk driving. Fortunately, testing and radon reduction procedures are inexpensive and effective.
Mold. If the home has toxic mold splotches on the walls or a wet, moldy smell, or if you experience allergy symptoms while in the home, be sure to hire a professional inspector to test for the presence of mold. These tests can run from $300 to as high as $3,000.
Mold inspectors use special equipment to find hot spots where mold is most likely growing and to look into hidden areas, such as behind walls, while barely disturbing your home. A mold inspector will also be able to tell you whether or not the mold is toxic.
If the mold is non-toxic, it will likely be relatively inexpensive to remove, and you may even be able to remove it yourself.
If the mold is toxic, you will have to hire a professional mold removal service. This can quickly get expensive, and costs increase depending on how much mold is present.
Certification and licensing
It’s virtually impossible for an amateur to conduct a home inspection with the expertise and professionalism of a licensed inspector. Licensed and certified inspectors must be knowledgeable about new materials, technologies, and products in use today, as well as those in use 50 years ago or earlier. Most states license home inspectors, and many inspectors undergo special training to achieve their certification.
Sellers are required by law to disclose major problems with a home that may affect its value, but such disclosures are not a substitute for an inspection. Rather, they make an inspection even more important. Before your 30-day cancellation clause expires, you will want to know about any serious problems and what it will take to fix them. You can obtain competitive bids from contractors to use in negotiation with the owners to either make the repairs in advance of closing or reduce the sale price.
For a buyer, there is really no reason not to conduct an inspection. It’s a way to evaluate all the systems in the house, and it puts pressure on the seller to fix major problems before the home sale is finalized.
How to find a qualified home inspector
In addition, your real estate agent or lender can be a great resource for finding competent inspectors who are familiar with local housing conditions, contractors, and building codes.
Steve Cook is executive vice president of Reecon Advisors and covers government and industry news for the Reecon Advisory Report. He is a member of the National Press Club, the Public Relations Society of America, and the National Association of Real Estate Editors, where he served as second vice president. Twice he has been named one of the 100 most influential people in real estate. In addition to serving as managing editor of the Report, Cook provides public relations consulting services to real estate companies, financial services companies, and trade associations, including some of the leading companies in online residential real estate.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.