Another checklist to add to your collection--this one for buying a home:
I may need to budget these costs:
* Appraisal, inspections, down payment, monthly mortgage payments, escrow service, loan application fee, title insurance, mortgage insurance, monthly utility bills, property taxes, maintenance costs, improvements, insurance costs, homeowner association fees (in some cases), possible assessments (street lights, sewers).
I should consider these inspections:
* General structural inspection, pest control (termites and dry rot), asbestos, soil stability (of, for example, hillside property).
The sellers "Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement" should tell me about:
* Structural defects (roof, wiring, etc.), easements, zoning violations, noise problems, other information I request in writing. (Your real estate agent can provide more detailed information on this statement and other aspects of the transaction.)
My offer (deposit receipt) on the house should cover all important terms:
* Complete description of the property, description of anything else (appliances, swing set) included in the sale, exact purchase price, purchase price broken down into deposit, down payment, amount of loan, my rights if inspections uncover a problem, conditions under which I can cancel, whether my deposit is returned if I cancel.
If I sign a deposit receipt before I get the disclosure statement, I can cancel:
* In three days if the statement was personally delivered, in five days from the postmark date if it was mailed.
I can shop for a loan at:
* Banks, savings and loan associations, insurance companies, credit unions, mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers.
Among other things, my loan may:
* Have a fixed or adjustable interest rate, be seller-financed, be assumed , be due in full when I sell.
I should consider the advantages/disadvantages of a:
* Standard down payment, larger down payment and smaller monthly payments.
My taxes and heirs are affected by whether I own the house:
* By myself, as community property with my spouse, as a joint tenant (with right of survival) with one or more people, as a tenant--in common with one or more people.
If I fail to pay the mortgage, the lender can foreclose and:
* Must notify me that my property will be sold, must give me a chance to make the missed payments, collect late fees and foreclosing costs from me.
Klein is an attorney and president of The Times Valley and Ventura County editions. Brown is professor of law emeritus at USC and chairman of the board for the National Center for Preventive Law. They cannot answer mail personally but will respond in this column to questions of general interest. Do not telephone. Write to Jeffrey S. Klein, The Times, 9211 Oakdale Ave. , Chatsworth, Calif. 91311.