QUESTION: How long do most roofs last? When looking for a house, what about the roof should I be worried about?
ANSWER: The average life of a typical asphalt shingle roof is 20 years, according to Dean Morekas, home inspector with Boswell Building Surveys Inc. However, he cautioned that the life expectancy can be significantly reduced if attic ventilation is poor or if there are multiple layers of shingles. The optimum conditions are cool and dry with less than two layers of shingles.
A slate roof, however, can last from 40 to 200 years, depending on the quality of the slate shingles. A home inspection is a good source of information on the materials used in your roof, the age and life expectancy of the roof, and its maintenance.
Q: On the sale of a $100,000 house, the sales commission is 6 percent or $6,000. How much, typically, does each agent get?
A: The commission is split between the listing broker and the co-op broker, who brings in the buyer. A broker is the company a real estate agent works for. So $3,000 goes to each broker.
The portion of the commission retained by the listing agent depends on the agreement between the broker and agent, normally based on performance. Newer agents may get 50% -- or, in this case, $1,500 -- while more experienced agents may get closer to 90 percent -- or $2,700. Some listing agents pay their brokers for office expenses and retain 100 percent of the listing portion of the commission.
Q: What are "comps" and how do you use them?
A: "Comps" are Multiple Listing Service listings of homes that recently sold in the area near the home you want to buy.
You should get the selling price of at least three homes that are similar to the one you're looking at. The homes should be similar in location, square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and amenities, such as Jacuzzi, porches and the like. This will give you a price range when contemplating an offer on a home. Appraisers use the same information to help determine the value of a property.
In addition, Rufus S. Lusk & Co. reports all property transactions, sorted by county and street. This information is available at many libraries.
Michael Gisriel is senior vice president of Fountainhead Title Group of Columbia and hosts the weekly radio show "All About Real Estate" on WCBM from noon to 1 p.m. on Sundays.
Send real estate questions to Michael Gisriel, c/o Mailbag, Real Estate Section, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.
You may also leave questions on Sundial, the Baltimore Sun's telephone information service, by calling (410) 783-1800 (268-7736 in Anne Arundel County). Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6170 after you hear the greeting.