Buying Real Estate in Virginia

Did you know that Virginia is one of the few caveat emptor (buyer beware) states in the country?  Most buyers coming outside of the state expect to see a long list of disclosure items from the seller.  For example:  Dishwasher works, stove works, there is an easement across the property and so forth.  In Virginia, the seller has to tell you very little about the property.  When you make an offer on a property, you will be given a Summary of Rights and a Residential Disclosure form to sign.  You would be wise to read these documents and ask some questions about the property.

Here are some of the items that the seller does not need to disclose.  This list comes from the link off of the Residential Disclosure Form.

  1. The Seller makes no representations or warranties about the property, the improvements and if there are any covenants and restrictions.
  2. The Seller makes no representations pertaining to the adjacent parcels.  That beautiful field across the street could become the next high-density development or the county dump and the Seller does not have to tell you.
  3. The Seller makes no representation as to whether the property is in a historic district and if you need to go before a board for approval prior to making any changes to the home or property.
  4.  The Seller makes no representations as to if the property is in a resource protection area.
  5.  The Seller makes no representation if there are any registered sexual offenders in the area.
  6.  The Seller makes no representation as to whether the property is within a dam break inundation zone.
  7.  The Seller makes no representation as to if there are any stormwater detention facilities n the property or if there are if there are any maintenance agreements on it.
  8.  The Seller makes no representations about the wastewater system and if there are any regulations pertaining to it.
  9.  The Seller makes no representation as to whether you can place solar panels on your home or property.
  10.  The Seller makes no representation that the property is in a flood zone and if flood insurance is required.
  11.   The Seller makes no representation that the property is or is not under a conservation easement or any other type of easement.
  12.   The Seller makes no representation as to whether the property is subject to a community development authority.

Most Sellers and their agents will do the proper thing and make you aware of potential problems.  If the Seller’s agent is aware of a problem and it lies within the property boundaries, then the agent must disclose the problem.

So, what does the Seller have to tell you?

  • If there have been any mining operations on the property.
  • If the property is located in a locality with a military installation.
  • If the home has defective drywall.
  • If the home has pending building code or zoning ordinance violations.
  • If the property has been used to manufacture meth.  Yes, like a Seller is going to really tell his agent this.  Nevertheless, it is the law!
  • If the property septic system has an operating permit that cannot be transferred.

So, what is a buyer to do????  Do some research at the courthouse to find out about covenants and restrictions, easements, historic districts and adjacent parcels.  Talk to your insurance agent about insuring the property.  Get the well and septic permits, if they exist, from the county health department.  Look at the county website for zoning permits and zoning districts.  Look at the FEMA website for flood zones.

It never hurts to ask lots of questions and to do your due diligence!


Charlottesville Home Inspectors

Charlottesville Home InspectorVirginia is a caveat emptor (buyer beware) state, so we encourage all of our buyers to do their due diligence as a contingency in their purchase contract. One of the most common inspections is the home inspection. We thought it would be of interest to run a series on the various home inspectors in the area, so that when the time comes, you will easily be able to select the inspector that meets your needs and you feel the most comfortable with. This quarter we are introducing Jim Quisenberry of Cavalier Home Inspections located in Charlottesville.

1. What is your background as it relates to conducting home inspections?

I spent 30 years in the building supply and lumber business as well as I built my own home.

2. How long have you been inspecting homes?

I have been inspecting homes for the last 11 years have done approx 2700 inspections.

3. What is the most common problem you see around Charlottesville when conducting home inspections?

The most common things we see are safety issues, maintenance issues and water intrusion issues.Examples: Smoke detectors not working, Filters not being changed regularly or no service on heating and cooling systems. The water intrusion issues are generally landscaping problems or gutters not working.

4. What are the three things that you would suggest all homeowners to do to keep their home in good shape?

Have HVAC systems serviced. Keep the landscaping and trees trimmed off of the house and perform general maintenance.

5. What areas do you cover? Do you have any specialties?
The area I cover is where ever I’m needed. I have done inspections in as far away as Culpeper, Staunton, Amherst and Goochland.

Radon in Your Home

Most people are first introduced to Radon during a home inspection where not only does it come as a surprise to the buyer, but the seller as well. So what is radon, how does it sneak into your home, and what do you do about it?

Radon is an invisible, odor-free, and cancer-causing radioactive gas.  It sneaks into your home through construction joints, cracks in walls and floors, gaps in suspended floors and around service pipes, cavities inside the walls, and even the water supply.

In fact, it’s estimated that 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States has been found to have elevated radon levels.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they recommend randomly testing your home for radon to determine the risk level to your family. Even a low level can have health risks.

You can purchase inexpensive test kits from your local home improvement store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. If you prefer having a professional, you can contact a qualified radon service professional to test your home. If the level found is 4 picocuries per liter or higher, it’s suggested that repairs be made or a radon reduction system be installed in your home.

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To find a professional, visit: