Most buyers know the basics of a real estate transaction; the information directly effecting their situation such as mortgage payments, closing costs, commission and so on. Most feel confident in their choice of houses and may have put some time into researching the area and schools, but there are a few things that catch many people off guard. These details often appear at the last minute and the buyer is aware then details usually cannot be changed and the results can often cause delays and or loss of funds.

1. Your Initial Deposit:

When you made an offer to purchase, this included a good faith deposit. This deposit is also called “earnest money”. This deposit is held in escrow until the close and is credited to the buyers closing costs. But, if escrow gets cancelled what happens to the deposit? Most people are unclear about the disposition of their deposit; sellers assume the deposit is automatically theirs if the buyer cancels but this may not be the case. It’s best to find out how this process works and what is needed in order for the buyer to recoup their deposit or what details constitute the forfeiture of the buyers deposit. This is often spelled out in the initial offer, so ask your real estate agent to explain the process.

2. Taxes:

Most people are aware of their tax rate, but have never calculated what the actual yearly amount will be. Something else to consider, if you purchase a new home from a builder you’re going to receive a supplemental bill shortly after the close of escrow. This supplemental bill will be equivalent to one year’s worth of property tax. This is a shock to many people, since most people never know its coming. Another little detail that often slips through the cracks; assessments. Newer communities likely have assessments in addition to your basic property tax rate. Many people don’t know that often assessments can change and be added yearly, which equates to higher property taxes every year.

3. Homeowners Association:

When considering a home within a homeowner’s association, it’s always prudent to thoroughly read all the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCNR). Yes, this is often a huge document, but it’s given to you before you close escrow for a reason; these CCNRs directly affect you. If you don’t know and understand all the rules, this can lead to a less than ideal situation if you unwittingly break a few. Little things like permission to paint your garage door or installation of a backyard patio can lead to huge problems including legal action. Know the rules!

4. Home Warranty:

Understanding how your home warranty works will save you a tremendous amount of frustration and hassle. Research before you close escrow, find a plan you understand and feel comfortable with, then request any extra coverage you think you need. Most home warranty companies offer basic coverage for appliances and air conditioning but, did you know they also offer coverage for an additional fee for such items as roof, well, and septic tanks?

5. Homeowner’s Insurance:

Of course everyone knows they need homeowner’s insurance before closing escrow. Unfortunately most people wait till the last minute, run into snags, and then closing is delayed. If you approach this task as soon as you enter escrow this allows time to compare rates and if a snag does arise you have time to handle it, avoiding a hasty decision. If the previous homeowner has had a recent claim this can affect you the new purchaser. Better to know this early rather than the last minute.