I - Central: A Home Buyer's Information Resource
Coldwell Banker Dinsmore Associates, REALTORS® providing you with this information so you can be aware of some of the common issues that a buyer may decide to investigate or verify concerning a property purchase. A real estate professional is vital to the home buying process and can provide a variety of services in locating property, negotiating the sales and advising the buyer. A real estate professional is generally not qualified to discover defects or evaluate the physical condition of property. Coldwell Banker Dinsmore Associates, REALTORS® recommends that you consult with an expert such as a home inspector, appraiser, surveyor, lawyer, building contractor or a local town or state official if you have any areas of concern. Real estate professionals do not have the expertise to research, review or offer opinions regarding public records. I-central is designed to provide buyers with resources that allow them to find vital information about a prospective property.
On I-central you will find common documents that a buyer should review; physical conditions in the property that a buyer should investigate; conditions affecting the surrounding areas that a buyer should investigate; and links to public information about the property. Of course I-central is limited in that it cannot possibly provide every resource that a buyer may need. Therefore, in addition to investigating or verifying these common issues, a buyer should tell their real estate professional with whom they are working about any special concerns or issues regarding the condition of the property or surrounding area whether or not those issues are addressed in I-central.
Notice: The information on I-central is provided with the understanding that it is not intended as legal or other professional services or advice. This information has been prepared for general informational purposes only. The information and links contained herein may not be updated or revised for accuracy. If you have and additional questions or need advice, please contact your own lawyer, professional service provider or government official with expertise in your area of concern.
Town and City and Town: Web-Sites and Departments
Town Assessors - Tax Records
The town assessor's records contain a variety of valuable information such as the assessed value of the property for tax purposes and the reported square footage. The date built information in the assessor's records can be either the actual or effective/weighted age if the residence has been remodeled. Tax maps are also maintained which show the dimensions of the lot. All information should be verified for accuracy because it has commonly been found to contain errors.
Property Condition - Professional Home Inspection
Obtaining a Professional Home Inspection is the single most important thing a buyer can do for their protection. Coldwell Banker Dinsmore Associates urges all prospective purchasers to seek professional opinions regarding property condition and to have a professional home inspection completed.
A professional home inspection report will provide the buyer with detailed information about the home’s physical condition, its systems and fixtures and usually note any potential future problems. This is your chance to verify information provided to you by the seller in the “Seller’s Representation of Condition.” The buyer should carefully review an inspector’s proposal to determine the scope of the inspection. Some home inspectors limit the systems or components they will inspect.
Inspection of property is beyond the scope of expertise of a real estate professional, but they can provide you with a list of local inspectors. Coldwell Banker Dinsmore Associates does not recommend home inspectors but we do recommend that you interview home inspection companies to make sure that they are experienced, a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors and have errors and omissions insurance.
Buyers should not rely upon reports done for others (pervious buyers and/ or sellers), because the report may not be accurate and buyers may have no recourse against an inspector they have not retained.
Standard Purchase and Sales Agreements in New Hampshire allow for a home inspection to be completed in a certain time frame. Additional information about inspections may be found at the American Society of Home Inspectors website http://www.ashi.org/
Building Department Files – Repairs and Remodels
Buyers should look for signs of repairs or remodeling when viewing a property. If repairs or remodeling have been done, the buyer will want to make sure the work was properly done. Buyers can ask the seller for any invoices or other documentation for the work but, as with other questions of property condition, there is no substitute for professional inspection.
The local building departments keep a file on most property located in town. The file is open to the public and it is recommended that you review it. If you have any areas of concern you should check with the local building department personally. This is your way of insuring that your questions will be answered fully. Real Estate professionals do not have the training or expertise to review files or assess building code compliance.
If you are considering changing the use of the property, expanding the size, remodeling the structure or have an future plans for the property it is recommended you talk with the local building department to insure that that they are allowed under building and zoning regulations. Year round status of property and so-called “in-law” apartment approvals can be checked here. Town web-sites above have contact information for local building and zoning departments.
If you have any questions about environmental issues while buying or selling a home, you will find that the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services can be a good resource for information. The local planning and building departments are another good source of information.
- NH Department of Environmental Services Main Number - 271-3503
- Septic System Information - 271-3504
- Water Quality of NH Lakes and Ponds - 271-2147
- Shoreline Regulations-Site Assessments - 271-2147
- Wells- Well Water Board - 271-3406
- Lead Paint- General Information - 1-800-852-3345 Ext. 4507
- Radon Information- NH Dept. of Health - 271-4674
There are EPA Superfund sites located in Londonderry New Hampshire, as well as other communities. For further information call the EPA at 617-573-9623 of click on the link to their web site found below.
Mold contaminants may exist in homes. These contaminants generally grow in places where there may have been excessive moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, to where there has been flooding. These conditions may be identified with a typical home inspection. In the event that suspect mold contamination is discovered, it is recommended that a mold inspection be performed. For Further information about mold contamination you may click on the links below.
Wells and Water Supplies
A private well or community well (community water) services most property, which is for sale in southern New Hampshire. Only a few communities in limited areas offer municipal water. As a buyer you should investigate the availability and quality of the water to the property. Wells can be either deep-drilled wells or shallow “dug” wells. Wells can become contaminated by both natural and man-made causes. Bacteria, Nitrates, Radon, Arsenic, MBTE, V.O.C.s (Volatile Organic Chemicals,) gross screen alpha and other contaminants are sometimes found in well water. It is recommended that a complete water test be completed as part of the home inspection of the property. Buyers can have the quantity of water tested by a professional. The file on the property kept in the building department may have information on the depth of the well and the amount of water the well produced when first drilled. Even when wells are inspected and tested it is impossible to guarantee a continued supply of water. Catastrophic events can and do occur that can change the well quality virtually overnight. Other events, such as development and drought, can affect the quality of an aquifer over time. Any test of a well is merely a snapshot in time and is not an indication of a well’s performance in the future. Any kind of well report should be viewed in that light.
Sewer and Septic Systems
Whether the property is connected to a city sewer, septic system or other on-site wastewater treatment system is important information. Even if the M.L.S. data sheet or Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement indicates that the home is connected to the city sewer, the buyer should have their home inspector, or licensed plumber, verify the connection and its condition. If sewer has been newly installed in an area you should check with the water and sewer department to see if there are any betterment fees. Real estate professionals are not qualified to complete plumbing or septic inspections. If the property has a septic system or other on-site wastewater treatment system, the system should be inspected by a licensed septic system installer or other on-site wastewater treatment system professional hired by the buyer. Most property in southern New Hampshire is serviced by a private septic system. There are many types of septic systems and septic designs. Older systems may be a cesspool or drywell. Newer systems may have a tank with many different types of leaching fields. The number of bedrooms that are in a home currently determines septic tank and leach-field size. The expected life of a system varies greatly depending on how it was installed and past use and maintenance. Most newer homes will have a copy of the septic design on file in the building department. It is recommended that you review the septic system design to determine whether the number of bedrooms in a home match the septic system design.
Further information can be found through these links:
Flood Plain Status
Some property in southern New Hampshire is located in designated flood plains. Flood plain maps are available at local building departments and at the links located below. The National Flood Insurance Program is available for property located in flood plains and your lender may require it. Check with your insurance agent for cost and coverage.
Clandestine Drug Labs
For information on issues and remediation of clandestine drug laboratories, and to view a list of seized homes in New Hampshire please use the links below. You should be aware that some seizures might not be on the list. Check with your local police department for locations of former clandestine drug labs in the community where you plan to purchase a home.
Megan’s Law – Registered Sex Offenders
Buyers may wish to exercise due diligence with respect to information on any sex offenders registered under NH RSA Chapter 651-B, (MEGAN’S LAW), such information may be obtained by contacting the local police department. The link below is a state website that provides a list of sex offenders that meet public list criteria. The presence of a sex offender in the vicinity of a property is not a fact that the seller or real estate agent is required to disclose. The information contained on these websites may not be current therefore you should check directly with the local police department for the most updated list.
Major Highway projects - Interstate 93 Rebuilding
Many major highway projects are being proposed for the Southern New Hampshire area. Interstate 93 is slated to be widened from the current two lanes in each direction to a possible four lanes. Rt. 111 is being relocated in Windham and Salem. There is also a new access road proposed for Manchester Airport. To obtain further information about these and other highway projects you may call the New Hampshire Department of Transportation at 271-3731 or simply click below to view their web site.
Manchester Airport is a tremendous resource for the residents of Southern New Hampshire. This convenient alternative to Logan Airport in Boston Massachusetts offers many flights with major carriers. Parking is plentiful and inexpensive. Manchester airport has undergone a major expansion which may affect surrounding communities. Some flight paths may overfly some southern New Hampshire cities and towns. Call 624-6539 or click below.
Lakes & Ponds Information
There are state and local regulations that affect residential property on New Hampshire’s lakes and ponds. “The Shoreline Protection Act” is a state regulation that affects development along lakes and ponds including cutting of trees along the shoreline. A “Site Assessment Study” is required when selling any waterfront property. Water quality of lakes and ponds varies. Reports are available from the State of New Hampshire.
Rockingham and Hillsborough County Information
Rockingham County Registry of Deeds - 642-5526
Rockingham County Regional Planning - 772-4712
State Of New Hampshire
Public Service of New Hampshire - 432-2564
Granite State Electric - 898-9798
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce - 893-3177
Community Information for Salem, Windham, Pelham, Hampstead and Atkinson.
Pennichuck Water Company-Serving many southern New Hampshire Communities: www.pennichuck.com
The New Hampshire Business Resource Center www.nheconomy.com
Financing Alternatives and Home Ownership Guides
New Hampshire Housing is your Statewide Housing Resource! We promote, finance and support affordable housing opportunities and related services for New Hampshire families and individuals, and we serve as the primary source for housing data.
The American Bar Association Guide to Home Ownership is a guide that is designed to help you understand that legal framework and answer some questions you might have. It can also help you avoid legal problems and work through problems that might arise.
ABA Guide to Guide to Home Ownership (American Bar Association)