10 Things to Take the Trauma Out of Homebuying
- Find a real estate professional who’s simpatico. Homebuying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the practitioner you choose is both skilled and a good fit with your personality.
- Remember, there’s no “right” time to buy, any more than there’s a right time to sell. If you find a home now, don’t try to second-guess the interest rates or the housing market by waiting. Changes don’t usually occur fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won’t stay on the market long.
- Don’t ask for too many opinions. It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas will make it much harder to make a decision.
- Accept that no house is ever perfect. Focus in on the things that are most important to you and let the minor ones go.
- Don’t try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price may lose you the home you love.
- Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself”room size, kitchen”that you forget such issues as amenities, noise level, etc., that have a big impact on what it’s like to live in your new home.
- Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate insurance availability, and consider a schedule for moving. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers.
- Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-homebuying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be some costs. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.
- Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big commitment, but it also yields big benefits.
- Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. While U.S. homes have appreciated an average of 5.4 percent annually from 1998 to 2002, a home’s most important role is as a comfortable, safe place to live.
How High Tech Is Your Home?
If the latest technology or entertainment options are important in your new home, add the following questions to your buyer’s checklist.
- Are there enough jacks in every room for cable TV and high-speed Internet hookups?
- Are there enough telephone extensions or jacks?
- Is the home prewired for a home theater or multi-room audio and video?
- Does the home have a local area network for linking computers?
- Does the home already have wiring for DSL or other high-speed Internet connection?
- Does the home have multizoning heating and cooling controls with programmable thermostats?
- Does the home have multi-room lighting controls, window-covering controls, or other home automation features?
- Is the home wired with multi-purpose in-wall wiring that allows for reconfigurations to update services as technology changes?
Visit the Consumer Electronics Association www.ce.org/techhomerating for a complete Tech Home ™ Rating Checklist.
Hidden Home Defects to Watch For
No home is flawless, but certain physical problems can be expensive. Watch for:
- Water leaks. Look for stains on ceilings and near the baseboards, especially in basements or attics.
- Shifting foundations. Look for stains on ceilings and near the baseboards, especially in basements or attics.
- Drainage. Look for standing water, either around the foundation of the home of in the yard.
- Termites. Look for weakened or grooved wood, especially near ground level.
- Worn roofs. Look for broken or missing copings and buckled shingles as well as water spots on ceilings.
- Inadequate wiring. Look for antiquated fuse boxes, extension cords (indicating insufficient outlets), and outlets without a place to plug in the grounding prong.
- Plumbing problems. Very low water pressure, banging in pipes.
10 Questions to Ask a Home Inspector
- What are your qualifications? Are you a member of the American Association of Home Inspectors?
- Do you have a current license? Inspectors are not required to be licensed in every state.
- How many inspections of properties such as this do you do each year?
- Do you have a list of past clients I can contact?
- Do you carry professional errors and omission insurance? May I have a copy of the policy?
- Do you provide any guarantees of your work?
- What specifically will the inspection cover?
- What type of report will I receive after the inspection?
- How long will the inspection take and how long will it take to receive the report?
- How much will the inspection cost?
Portions adapted from Real Estate Checklists and Systems and used with permission www.realestatechecklists.com
What Your Home Inspection Should Cover
- Siding: Look for dents or buckling
- Foundations: Look for cracks or water seepage
- Exterior Brick: Look for cracked bricks or mortar pulling away from bricks
- Insulation: Look for condition, adequate rating for climate
- Doors and Windows: Look for loose or tight fits, condition of locks, condition of weatherstripping
- Roof: Look for age, conditions of flashing, pooling water, buckled shingles, or loose gutters and downspouts
- Ceilings, walls, and moldings: Look for loose pieces, drywall that is pulling away
- Porch/Deck: Loose railings or step, rot
- Electrical: Look for condition of fuse box/circuit breakers, number of outlets in each room
- Plumbing: Look for poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots or corrosion that indicate leaks, sufficient insulation
- Water Heater: Look for age, size adequate for house, speed of recovery, energy rating
- Furnace/Air Conditioning: Look for age, energy rating; Furnaces are rated by annual fuel utilization efficiency; the higher the rating, the lower your fuel costs. However, other factors such as payback period and other operating costs, such as electricity to operate motors.
- Garage: Look for exterior in good repair; condition of floor—cracks, stains, etc.; condition of door mechanism
- Basement: Look for water leakage, musty smell
- Attic: Look for adequate ventilation, water leaks from roof
- Septic Tanks (if applicable): Adequate absorption field capacity for the percolation rate in your area and the size of your family
- Driveways/Sidewalks: Look for cracks, heaving pavement, crumbling near edges, stains
How Comprehensive Is Your Home Warranty?
Check your home warranty policy to see which of the following items are covered. Also check to see if the policy covers the full replacement cost of an item.
- Electrical Systems
- Water Heater
- Heating Ducts
- Water Pump
- Swimming Pool (may be optional)