Things to Consider Before Buying a Home

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Slow down and take a step back before taking the plunge! Are you contemplating buying a house that seems like it’s everything you’ve always dreamed of in a home? It’s so easy to get lost in the home buying euphoria. Rash decisions and emotions need to be kept in check when considering one of the largest investments you may ever make.
1. Preview at different times of day – That convenient school down the street may be chaos in the making. School drop-off times can be a source of noise, traffic jams and other inconveniences. That lovely bay window might just be an inviting fishbowl of viewing pleasure for the creeper neighbor. Check it out!
2. Peruse newspaper archives – The last thing you want, is to settle into your new abode and find out that the beautiful nature preserve behind your home has been slated for a nuclear power plant or amusement park… (these are extremes, but take heed and do your research).
3. Chat with neighbors – Do they rent or own? You’ll find out info that your real estate agent cannot legally disclose. Is the neighborhood established or is it transient? You’ll find out about community events, crime, and all sorts of juicy gossip the more you gab with potential neighbors.
4. Does the community have an association? – What are the fees? How often do they meet? What reserves do they have and what do they maintain or improve?
Even if you could care less about attending an HOA meeting, the fact that they meet is a good indication that the neighborhood has caring members in the community.
5. What about that sellers disclosure? – You need to know if there have been any problems in the past or on-going. If there was an issue with flooding in the past, is it drainage issue that will reoccur? Rodents, pests or any other issues? These are items that need to be addressed and disclosed! Of course a home inspection is always recommended.
6. … did I mention a home inspection? – Most homes have defects. The key is to finding them, and knowing if they are permanent or curable. How much will it cost to remedy and will the seller contribute to repairs. Wind mitigation at the time of inspection can lower the cost of a homeowners policy. Wood rot, leaks, termites and condition of aging appliances are just a few notable items a good home inspector will uncover during the inspection.
7. Ask for receipts for renovations & improvements – Not that this is always possible, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for proof of claims the seller is making. If you’re told that the A/C was replaced 3 years ago and there’s no proof or if a receipt for $500, then you’ll know that it was more likely a repair than a replacement. You can expect to spend additional money in the near future replacing or maintaining an aging unit.
8. Think twice about remodeling – If you have a chance to throw ideas about improvements to the owners, you may find why the owner didn’t do it himself. For example, bathrooms which are small an outdated may have structural impedances which would prove to be too costly to undertake.
9. What ‘cha looking at? – If your prospective new home is situated on a lot between aging, outdated homes this might not be the most desirable place to relocate. Consider the fact that these homes may continue to deteriorate, rather than owners taking the time to deal with these “fixer uppers”.
10. How much is the current owner shelling out for utilities? – One of the hidden expenses in owning a new home could be water, electric and gas. If the current owner is willing to show you historical billing for the “big three” over the past year, you’ll be well versed going into your new property.
11. Review last years taxes – Don’t take the seller’s word for it, research past taxes which are easily accessible on the county property appraiser’s website in most areas. Growing areas with over crowded schools often fund new schools with tax dollars. Are there any proposed tax hikes?
12. Do you really need that? – Can you really deal with the upkeep of a pool?
13. Drive around and acclimate yourself – If you’re not just making a cross-town move, you may not know that only three blocks away, this pretty neighborhood backs up to a dumpy commercial area or a less-than-savory part of town. If the home is near an airport, fire station, police station, hospital or railroad track, expect to hear trains, planes or ambulances throughout the day and night. Make sure you’re not too close to an agricultural area that may generate odors or kick up dust or other airborne problems.
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