The county and state governments will also get their share of money, typically in the way of fees to record the transaction in the public record or (to a greater extent) in the form of taxes.

Government fees and taxes are simply too numerous to mention. The rules change not only from state to state, but often from county to county!

There is a second type of service, called a nonrequired service, which includes pest inspection (some states require this), property inspection, and home warranty.

Some states actually do require a pest inspection for infestation of termites or other wood-eating insects. But most condominiums and co-ops will be attached to one another, so few lenders will require a termite report.

Some buyers simply want to have the peace of mind that their new home is free from mice, rodents, or other nasty little creatures. Pest inspections typically cost around $100.

At first glance, a property inspection sounds like an appraisal: Someone goes out and inspects the property and gives it a value. But the property inspector actually checks to make sure everything is in good working order.

Property inspections are optional, but I cannot understand why anyone wouldn't want to have their prospective purchase inspected from top to bottom by an independent party who will document any deficiencies or defects.

The property inspector will switch the lights on and off and check the disposal, plumbing, and electrical outlets. In the case of a townhouse, he'll even crawl through an attic, checking on insulation and air conditioning and heating units.

After a thorough inspection, the inspector will issue a report showing what he checked, if it works, if it doesn't, or if it needs repair. Inspections will also note what type of repair is needed that is critical (hot water heater not up to code) or not.

Inspections can range from $200 to $400 per job.

A home warranty is also a neat little idea that typically guarantees any appliances that are included with the home sale will be replaced within a one- or two-year period if they fail. Most often it's the seller of the property who offers a home warranty as part of his or her listing agreement.

If, for instance, a trash compactor goes out in the first year, the owner would call the warranty company, who would make arrangements for a new trash compactor to be delivered for a nominal fee.

I recall when my trash compactor went out after about six months of owning a new home. Instead of shelling out a couple hundred dollars for a new compactor, I paid just a $35 fee to have it delivered and installed. The same thing happened with my garbage disposal. The seller paid for the warranty, and I got some brand-new appliances out of the deal at little cost to me.

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