Buying or selling a home can be a complex and confusing endeavor, but there is a cast of professionals who can help you to navigate the process. Some of them are obvious, like a realtor, while others may not be so well-known or may be someone you never even thought of consulting. Below is a rundown of the professionals you may need to have in your corner and a description of what they do and how they can help you.


A certified appraiser is trained to estimate the value of a property. A lender will require an appraisal before granting a mortgage. An appraisal assures a buyer that they are paying the appropriate amount for a house in the current real estate market.

Certified Radon Mitigator

If excessive levels of radon gas are found in the home you are selling or buying, you may need to engage the services of a certified radon mitigator. These professionals can advise you on the best methods for mitigating radon in the home and install the system that will best eliminate the problem.

Certified Radon Tester

Radon gas is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. It is produced by minerals like uranium and radium in the soil beneath homes. Radon gas is a known carcinogen, and it is believed that 40 percent of the homes in Pennsylvania have radon levels higher than the EPA guidelines. Most real estate transactions stipulate a radon test as a contingency of sale. Radon testers are required to be certified, and the state keeps a directory of certified testers.

Contractor or Handyman

Before you list your home for sale, it’s best to make sure that it is in saleable shape before it goes under agreement. If an inspection comes back that necessitates that you make a repair, it is better to do it before marketing your home rather than be forced to scramble to get it fixed and risk losing a buyer or delaying a closing.


A termite inspection is often performed when buying a home in Pennsylvania. As with most other contingency agreements, a buyer may walk away from a deal if there is evidence of termite infestation or damage. Depending on the extent found, engaging the services of an exterminator is all that is needed. In addition to creepy crawlies that can damage your home, most exterminators are also adept at getting rid of other critters like mice or rats.

Financial Planner

A financial planner can help you to get your financial house order. Among the services they provide is helping you to set financial goals such as paying down debt, saving for your children’s education and minimizing your tax burden. They can also advise you on financial decisions such as purchasing a house. The industry rule of thumb is your monthly housing costs, which also includes your mortgage, your real estate taxes, and homeowner’s insurance and, if applicable, condo or home owner’s association fees should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income. While that is the conventional wisdom, a financial planner may advise you to reconsider maxing out the amount you can borrow. Based on your particular situation and objectives, he may advise that you to take less of a risk. A financial planner can help you look before you leap into mortgage debt.

Home Inspector

Sellers are required to disclose problems with their property, but you may want to follow President Reagan’s advice of “trust but verify” and engage your own home inspector. Many things can go wrong with a home from catastrophic to commonplace. Home inspectors are trained to spot them all. They will inspect the property from foundation to roof and issue a report. If you have a home inspection contingency agreement in your offer, you can back away from the deal if the inspector finds something that you don’t want to deal with or if the seller does not wish to pay for to correct.

Home Stagers

When selling a home, you want to present it as best you can. This includes creating curb appeal and cleaning out closets of clutter. Home stagers are professionals who know how buyers think. They can help you to get your home into the state that can result in a quick sale.

Insurance Agent

Unless you are buying a home outright, your lender will require that you insure your home. As a home is usually your most valuable possession, even if you have no mortgage it is advisable to insure it against loss. You may want to consult with an insurance agent especially if you think you may need flood insurance. Mine subsidence insurance is usually offered by the state.


While many states require a lawyer when conducting a real estate transaction, Pennsylvania does not. However, in certain instances such as if you are dealing with a condo or home owner’s association, you may want a lawyer to look over those types of agreements. A lawyer is also beneficial to have in your corner if escrow or title issues arise.


A realtor is probably the most well-known and visible of all the professionals involved in the buying and selling of a home. A realtor is somewhat like a symphony conductor. They are familiar with all aspects of the home buying process and work to make sure that all the players involved work in harmony to ensure a smooth transaction. They know your local real estate market, the various communities and school districts as well as amenities and an area’s lifestyle. They shepherd a real estate transaction from listing through closing. You may not be aware of it, but sellers usually pay all real estate commissions typically 5-6 percent of the house sale price. The commission is split between the seller’s and buyer’s agents. While you can buy or sell your house without using a realtor, be prepared to handle the hassles realtors do and be prepared to engage many of the other professionals in featured in the article to make sure you are protected legally and are complying with all real estate regulations.

Mortgage Lenders

In the past, home buyers put an offer on a house and when it was accepted, they buyers then applied for a mortgage. Today, buyers are urged to get pre-qualified, eliminating the unpleasantness of possibly being denied a mortgage. A mortgage lender can advise you on the interest rates and various types of mortgages and the fees associated with them.

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