Buyer's Resources

You're ready to buy a house, but maybe you don't know where to start? We're here to help!

Whether you’re a new home buyer or a seasoned, experienced one, in the ever-changing world of real estate one can never be too prepared when making the big ticket life decisions involved in buying a home. We at Terra Nova assist buyers in all price ranges for all types of property, and can also guide you through the process with experience and expertise. 

Local Resources  20 Questions on Home Buying  Finance Glossary

Click here to download Working with Real Estate Agents brochure

Local Links

Here’s a fantastic list of local venues and attractions that you’ll find in the Triangle. If you’re considering making the Triangle your home and are planning a visit to the area and would like a more specific itinerary on what to do and what not to miss, let us know. We’ll help you plan a weekend.

20 questions to ask if you want to be a happy homeowner


Before purchasing a home, here are a few things to consider. Our expertise can help you with information on these tough questions!

  1. What is the neighborhood (and your neighbors) like . . . are there certain features in the area that would affect the value of this property in the future?

  2. What are the property taxes on the home?

  3. What are the utility costs, especially electricity if the home is electrically heated?

  4. What home repairs have been made in the past two years?

  5. How far do I have to travel for schools, public transit and shopping?

  6. What major repair expenses do I have to look forward to within the next two years?

  7. What is the traffic flow in front of or near the property? Any main roads, bus routes or railway tracks?

  8. Are there any utility easements or encroachments over the property?

  9. Is there a fairly recent survey that shows all the buildings and additions on the property?

  10. Has the property had a Home Inspection done when the present owners bought that you could check to see what minor and major problems there were? Ask the owner for a list of those problems that were fixed!

  11. Has the homeowner signed a Disclosure document? (they are mandatory)

  12. How much are the closing costs…and is there a better time in the month to close to minimize them?

  13. Who has the best rates and service in the mortgage field?

  14. How do you select the best lender to work with?

  15. What are the other comparable homes in the area selling for? You don’t want to overpay or get carried away by snazzy finishing touches in a home which may be priced higher than other neighborhood homes.

  16. How flexible are sellers usually on their asking price? At what price do we start with when we go to put in an offer?

  17. How is my financing approval determined? Is there any beneficial existing financing on the property that I can assume?

  18. What does the yard look like when it isn’t covered with snow? Are there any problems with drainage or runoff after a heavy rain or in the spring.

  19. Does the basement show any signs of moisture…can it be fixed simply by cleaning/repairing or is it a more serious problem?

  20. What can I have included in the sale? Are there any exclusions?

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Finance Glossary


ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE (ARM): A mortgage with an interest rate fixed for only a short period. At the end of the period the rate will be adjusted based on current interest rate indexes.

AMORTIZED LOAN: A loan which is paid off in equal installments during its term.

ASSUMABLE MORTGAGE: A mortgage that can be transferred to a new owner. The new owner then assumes responsibility as the guarantor for the unpaid balance of the mortgage.

BALLOON PAYMENT: The final payment of a mortgage loan when it is larger than the regular payment. It usually extinguishes the debt.

CAPITAL GAINS TAX: The tax on profit derived from the sale of a capital asset. The capital gain is the difference between the sale price and the basis of the property, after making appropriate adjustments for closing costs, fixing up expenses, capital improvements, allowable depreciation etc.

CLOSING COSTS: Expenses incurred in the dosing of a real estate or mortgage transaction. Purchasers expenses normally include: cost of title examination, premiums for the title policies, credit report, appraisal fees, attorney fee, lenders service fees and recording charges.

CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGE: A loan neither FHA insured nor guaranteed by the VA. A loan approved under Fannie Mae or Freddiemac guidelines.

EQUITY: The difference between the market value of property and the owner’s indebtedness.

ESCROW PAYMENT: That portion of a mortgagor’s monthly payment held in trust by the lender to pay for taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, iterns as they become due.

FHA: The Federal Housing Administration. Sets guidelines for special lower interest loans on lower priced homes.

FANNIE MAE: Nickname for Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), a tax paying corporation created by Congress. Sets guidelines under which most conventional mortgages are acceptable. FNMA is the largest purchaser of VA, FHA and Conventional loans in the secondary market.

FREDDIEMAC: Nickname of Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), a federally controlled and operated corporation to support the secondary mortgage market. It pur-chases and sells residential conventional home mortgages.

LOAN COMMITMENT: A written promise by a lender to make a loan under certain terms and conditions. These include interest rate, length of the loan, lender fees, annual percentage rate, mortgage and hazard insurance and other special requirements.

LOAN TO VALUE RATIO: The ratio of the mortgage loan principal (amount borrowed) to the property’s appraised value (selling price). On a $100,000 home, with a mortgage loan principal of $80,000, the loan to value ratio is 80%.

ORIGINATION FEE: A fee or charge for work involved in the evaluation, preparation, and submission of a proposed mortgage loan.

POINT: One percent of loan amount. Loan fees are sometimes expressed in points.

PREPAYMENT PENALTY: A fee paid to the mortgagee for paying the mortgage before it becomes due. Also known as prepayment fee or reinvestment fee.

PREPAYMENT PRIVILEGE: The right given a purchaser to pay all or part of a debt prior to its maturity without penalty.

PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE (PMI): Insurance written by a private company protecting the mortgage lender against loss occasioned by a mortgage default.

SECOND MORTGAGE: An additional loan on a property that becomes second in position behind the first mortgage. Generally at a higher interest rate and shorter terms than a first mortgage.

TITLE: Often used interchangeably with the word ownership. It indicates the accumulation of all rights in property; the owners and others.

TITLE INSURANCE: An insurance policy which protects the insured (purchaser or lender) against loss arising from defects in title.

VA: Veterans Administration loans are available to all qualified veterans. In general, the veterans must have served more than 180 days continuous active duty and received an honor-able discharge. The VA requires no down payment and offers higher loan limits than FHA.

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