What to do before buying Austin Real Estate

It is typical to ask for what we call “an Option Period” when writing a contract for a resale home.  This is the period of time you as a buyer have to do any kind of due diligence, most frequently buyers will have inspections done during this period of time.  The option period varies but usually is about 7 days.  It costs roughly $100-$300 depending on price of the home.  (As a Buyer’s Agent we try to keep this as low as possible.  As a Seller’s Agent we want to see a higher amount.)  During the Option Period you, as the buyer, can walk away for ANY reason and get your earnest money back.  This Option fee however is forfeited.

We also recommend that you line up home owners insurance during the option period.  This is for a few reasons, 1) You’ll find out the cost of the insurance so you can consider this is your financial plan.  2) You’ll know up front if there is anything about the home that may make it difficult to get insurance.  Perhaps the current owner filed several claims for the home causing the insurance companies to deny coverage.  3) You can verify that flood insurance is (or is not) needed. 
We always recommend that you get your home inspected before purchase.  Be sure to use a Texas licensed inspector. If you need a few names, ask us and we can provide you with a few options.   Interview the inspectors before deciding upon one.  Find out their costs (expect to pay at least $250, more if your home is large.) Ask the inspectors up front what they will and won’t be checking for during their inspection.  Determine whether you want a termite inspection as well.  Will the inspector do this or do you need to hire a separate company?  It varies.  Is there a septic tank?  If so that is another inspection company and can run upwards of $400.     
  A few other items that you might want to consider are listed below.  This list isn’t to scare you…it’s just a list of possible things to check for. Some apply to all homes, others, like Lead Based Paint, apply only to homes built before 1978.  

Lead-Based Paint

The use of significant quantities of lead in paint was banned in the United States in 1978, but more than 30 million older U.S. homes contain lead-based paint. The ingestion of lead can cause severe brain damage, particularly in children. Lead-based paint isn't hazardous when it is intact, but is hazardous when the paint is decaying, flaking, or peeling off the walls. Lead dust generated from friction on windows, doors, and stairs also creates a hazard.

Federal law

Requires sellers and their agents to disclose known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards within a home to the actual buyers, but not to everyone that views the property. A written disclosure form is not required, but is recommended.
Requires sellers to give buyers copies of any reports of lead-paint testing or inspections. Does not require that any property be tested for the presence of lead paint.
Requires sellers of homes completed before 1978 (with a few exceptions such as housing built for the elderly) to give buyers a government-approved pamphlet, "Protect Your Family From Lead in Home."
Grants buyers a 10-day period in which to conduct a lead-based paint inspection at their own expense, although no testing or removal of lead-based paint is required by the law. The estimates for lead-based paint testing costs provided by HUD are approximately $400 for a 2,000 square-foot single-family home.

Megan's Law

Megan Kanka was a seven-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in 1994 by a convicted sex offender living in her neighborhood. As a result of her death, the federal government and the 50 state governments have enacted regulations that require convicted sex offenders to register an address with state law enforcement and mandates this information be disseminated to protect the public.  You can go to the Texas Department of Public Safety website for information on this subject.


Asbestos was used as insulation and soundproofing material and in tile flooring in buildings throughout the 1970s. Its manufacture was declared illegal in 1978, but products in inventories at that time continued to be installed in homes until the early 1980s. Asbestos presents a health risk only when asbestos fibers or dust are released into the air, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The presence of asbestos can't be ascertained by a visual inspection, but possible sources of asbestos in a home may be identified visually. Unless it is deteriorating, asbestos presents less danger if it's left undisturbed. Sellers are required to disclose the known presence of asbestos, but aren't required to test.

Common types of asbestos you are likely to encounter are a granular, cement-like plaster on walls and ceilings, a fluffy material sprayed onto ceilings or walls as a fire retardant, and felt, fibrous paper, or cement-like coatings on pipes or boilers for insulation.



Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring gas that can enter any home through tiny cracks in the foundation. Ironically, well-insulated homes are more likely to have radon problems. Radon is a lung carcinogen and may contribute to lung cancer deaths, especially among cigarette smokers.

Radon is naturally occurring and has been found in all states.  Testing is the only way to determine whether a home has elevated levels of radon.   

Radon testing is not required and is not the norm in this area, however it is recommended by the EPA. The EPA recommends that repairs be made to reduce radon if levels exceed four picocuries per liter of air. If you are concerned about Radon, then by all means do further research on the subject before making your purchase.

Other Environmental Hazards to Consider

Leaking underground storage tanks. Can pollute ground and water. Of particular concern are older sites that might have once been used for industrial purposes. The presence of a air-vent pipe may indicate an underground tank. Most states require that underground tanks be monitored for leaks or removed. Tanks for heating oil that will be used on the site are exempt from federal law, but not necessarily from state laws.
Buried waste disposal. Can pollute ground and water. Look for unexplained depressions or mounds on the property; discolored soil, or stressed vegetation may also indicate the presence of contaminants. Check chain of ownership to determine if earlier uses for the site were hazardous. If evidence of possible pollution exist, recommend that the prospective buyer consider a Phase I environmental audit performed by a specialist.

CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). Can damage the ozone layer if released into the atmosphere. These chemicals are found in air conditioning systems, older refrigerators, and insulation. The Clean Air Act banned the production of CFC in the U.S. in 1996 and requires a phase out of use by 2030, but special recycling and clean-up is required if leaks occur in closed systems or if old equipment is discarded. If equipment was made before 1996, it may well contain CFCs. Formaldehyde gas. Can cause irritations of the eyes, nose, and throat and may contribute to cancer. Found in plywood, carpeting, insulation, solvents, and draperies, the gas usually dissipates over time, so it is of most concern in new homes. So whether you are a first time buyer or you have purchased several homes in the past, we can help.  We pride ourselves on making the buying process as stress-free as possible.  There’s no such thing as a dumb question.  

So call us today at 512-449-6070.  Let us help you with your Austin Real Estate needs.  Find out why Adkor is truly…A Different Kind Of Realty!