If you apply for a loan to buy a house, the lender is going to decide whether you are a good or poor credit risk based on your credit report. If the report says that you have a lot of debt, or you don't pay your bills on time, the lender may adjust your interest rate accordingly – or deny you the loan altogether. Thus, a good credit report can be as helpful to the home-buying process as an InterNACHI inspection, so it’s best if you understand how these reports work.
by Nick Gromicko, CMI®
Manufactured homes no longer have to be the simple, rectangular, boxy trailer homes of the past. Depending on the size of your home site, you can choose from single-section or multi-section designs. Homes range in size from 900 to 2,500 square feet and can be customized to meet your needs and preferences.
Here are some important questions to consider when choosing your manufactured home.
What features are available?
The interior design of your home can include many of the custom features available in a conventional home. Because most manufacturers use computer-assisted design, you'll have flexibility in choosing variations of floor plans and décor. You can also choose from a variety of exterior designs, depending on your taste and budget. Exterior siding comes in an array of colors and materials, including metal, vinyl, wood and cementitious sidings, which are virtually fireproof. Awnings, enclosures around the crawlspace, patio covers, decks and steps also are available.
How much can I expect to pay for a home?
Depending on the size, floor plans and any custom features, a new home can cost anywhere from $15,000 to more than $100,000. This price doesn't include the property on which it sits. Depending on the site, you may be purchasing it, leasing it or renting it.
What financing options are available?
Your retailer usually can provide information about financing. You can also check with lenders in your area. Just as there are choices when you buy a site-built home, there are a variety of financing options when you buy a manufactured home. Down payments and loan terms are similar to conventional loans (5% to 10% of the manufactured home's sales price), and loan terms from 15 to 30 years. Most lenders offer fixed- and variable-rate loans, and most have programs that allow you to "buy the rate down." If you own or plan to purchase the land where you will place your home, traditional mortgage financing can often be arranged.
What other costs can I expect to pay?
While your mortgage payment may be your biggest expense, you'll have other regular and periodic payments which will vary with your circumstances. Regular expenses may include utilities, property taxes, land rental fees, insurance, routine maintenance, and other service fees, such as water and sewer. Today's manufactured homes are built to meet new national energy standards set by HUD. The energy-conserving features found in manufactured homes help reduce monthly energy costs.
How much maintenance will my home need?
Your homeowner's manual outlines maintenance requirements, and it's important that you follow them. Failure to follow them could void your warranty, as well as erode the value and shorten the lifespan of your home. Additional maintenance, systems and safety information can be provided by an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection.
What warranty coverage is offered on the home, its transportation, and its installation?
All manufacturers offer a written warranty that should cover:
InterNACHI-certified home inspectors know where to look for defective work. Whether you’re buying an existing home or considering a new home, allow the inspector to use his/her special knowledge to help protect you by finding defects while the home is still under warranty, and before they cause damage or injury to you or your family.
Where can I locate my home?
Many homes are placed on privately-owned property. If this option appeals to you, find out about zoning laws, restrictive covenants, and utility connections. Your retailer can give you more information. Another option is to place your home in a land-lease community specifically designed for manufactured homes. Here, you own the home but lease the land. Placing your home in a land-lease community involves fewer siting considerations, such as utility connections. A third option is buying the home and land together in a planned subdivision where siting issues are handled by the developer.
May I move my home?
Yes, but it's not a common scenario. The transportation of a home can place considerable stress on its structure and components. Nevertheless, if you do plan to move your home in the future, make sure you check with the appropriate state authorities about transportation and zoning regulations. States have restrictions on weight, size and width that may prevent you from moving your home. If you relocate, make sure you use a professional transporter; never try to move the home yourself. It's also important to check the climate zone maps for your home. These maps tell you the wind, snow and thermal zones for which your home was constructed. Use them to determine whether your home is suitable for the new location you’re considering.
The actual overall costs connected with moving are another consideration. In addition to transport expenses, which include licensing fees to take your home through a state, you'll have to pay for a new foundation, installation, and utility hook-ups.
Home Winterizationby Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Kenton Shepard
Winterization is the process of preparing a home for the harsh conditions of winter. It is usually performed in the fall before snow and excessive cold have arrived. Winterization protects against damage due to bursting water pipes, and from heat loss due to openings in the building envelope. Inspectors should know how winterization works and be able to pass this information on to their clients
Water damage caused by bursting pipes during cold weather can be devastating. A ruptured pipe will release water and not stop until someone shuts off the water. If no one is home to do this, an enormous quantity of water can flood a house and cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage. Even during very small ruptures or ruptures that are stopped quickly, water leakage can result in mold and property damage. Broken water pipes can be costly to repair.
Leaky window frames, door frames, and electrical outlets can allow warm air to escape into the outdoors.
The heating system is used most during the winter so it’s a good idea to make sure that it works before it’s desperately needed. The following inspection and maintenance tips can be of some help to homeowners:
Chimneys and Fireplaces
Adequate winterization is especially crucial for homes that are left unoccupied during the winter. This sometimes happens when homeowners who own multiple properties leave one home vacant for months at a time while they occupy their summer homes. Foreclosed homes are sometimes left unoccupied, as well. The heat may be shut off in vacant homes in order to save money. Such homes must be winterized in order to prevent catastrophic building damage.
In addition to the information above, InterNACHI advises the following measures to prepare an unoccupied home for the winter:
Choosing the Right Home Inspector
Buying a home? It's probably the most expensive purchase you'll ever make. This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection. The cost of a home inspection is very small relative to the value of the home being inspected. The additional cost of hiring an InterNACHI-Certified Professional Inspector® is almost insignificant.
You have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals. Don't stop now. Don't let your real estate agent, a "patty-cake" inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here. InterNACHI-certified inspectors perform the best inspections by far.
InterNACHI-certified inspectors earn their fees many times over. They do more, they deserve more, and -- yes -- they generally charge a little more. Do yourself a favor... and pay a little more for the quality inspection you deserve.The licensing of home inspectors only sets a minimum standard. Much like being up to code, any less would be illegal. Imaginary people, children, psychics (who claim to "sense" if a house is OK) and even pets can theoretically be home inspectors. InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, front-ends its membership requirements.