Here are some things to keep in mind
when in the market for a new home. One of the biggest mistakes
that a home buyer can make is to continue to look for that "ideal"
house while passing up perfectly good houses in the process. If
this is your first house, chances are it will not be the last one
that you will buy. As you delay your purchase, home prices will
probably continue to rise and quite possibly, interest rates will
Having stated that, you should not rush into the biggest financial
transaction of your life without careful consideration. For this
reason, I have highlighted most of the major items that you need
to consider when looking to buy. With good planning, you can join
the millions of other families who own their own homes and are
taking advantage of the many benefits that are available to home
Starting with the obvious: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.
What kinds of things are important to you? Will you be near
stores, schools, parks, restaurants, theaters, supermarkets? Do
you mind being on a busy street or would you rather be on a quiet
cul-de-sac? Is the house near public transportation? How far is it
Rate each of the following as: A - must have, B - high priority, C
- medium priority, D - low priority.
___ Style of house - one story, two story, split level, etc.
___ Size of yard
___ Number of bedrooms
___ Number of baths
___ Bath in master bedroom
___ Eat-in kitchen
___ Separate dining room
___ Basement (Do you want a finished basement?)
___ Garage (1 car, 2 car)
___ Windows in the kitchen
___ Windows in the bathrooms
___ Plenty of sunlight in the other rooms
___ Maintenance free windows, gutters, trim, siding
___ Lots of closet space (walk-in closets)
___ Adequate storage (attic, crawl space, etc.)
___ Trees on the property and in the neighborhood
___ Children in the neighborhood
___ Type of heating system
___ Porch or deck
___ Dishwasher, garbage disposal
___ City water or well water
___ Septic system or sewers
___ Fuse Box or Circuit Breakers
EXAMINING THE HOME:
Note: If any of the following items are unacceptable, it doesn't
necessarily mean that you should not buy the house. You can
negotiate the cost of the repairs and/or negotiate the price.
Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect house. As any home
owner will tell you, something is always in need of fixing or
upgrading. What you want to do is protect yourself from any
unexpected large expenses. You should also arrange for a home
inspection to be made by a professional prior to your purchase.
Do not just rely on your impression upon seeing the home for the
first time. In looking beyond the "curb" appeal, you may be able
to get a great deal on a home that can be enhanced with just a few
improvements. Things like bushes that aren't trimmed or an unkempt
lawn are two examples of improvements that can be made with a
minor investment of time and money.
The home inspector will point out some of the following items, but
it's a good idea to be aware of them before you make an offer on a
home. (The home inspector is normally contacted after an offer is
Ask the age of the roof and whether it leaks. An old roof or one
that has several layers of shingles can mean an expensive repair
in the near future. A properly ventilated attic or crawl space
will extend the life of a roof. (A roof can usually have 2 to 3
layers of shingles before it needs to be completely replaced.)
Check the gutters. Are they pulling away from the house?
Check the foundation. Look for signs of water or wetness in the
basement. Vertical or diagonal cracks in the foundation are not
usually serious, but horizontal cracks can be.
Windows and doors should open and shut easily.
Check the caulk around the windows and doors.
What's the condition of the siding? Will it need to be replaced
Are the outside steps pulling away from the house?
How is the driveway? (Unless they are new, blacktop driveways will
usually have some cracks. Look for major cracks and large pieces
of missing blacktop.)
Is the landscaping in good condition?
What is the floor plan like? Is it suitable for your family? How
about the room sizes? Are they big enough ... or too big?
Check the water pressure by turning on several faucets at the same
time, and flushing the toilet.
Check under the sinks for water leakage.
Check for signs of water on the ceiling and walls (stains and
Check the number and location of electric outlets.
Ask about insulation in the house.
Are there stains in the tub or sinks?
How old are the appliances and utilities (hot water heater,
furnace, dishwasher, washer, dryer, stove, refrigerator,
air-conditioner)? A furnace
can last from 25 to 30 years. An air-conditioner will last for
about 15 years. A hot water heater will last about 10 years. These
are just estimates. The life span of any appliance depends on how
well it was made and whether it has received proper maintenance.
Remember, if you like a home that is in need of repair, you can
negotiate the cost of repairs and/or the cost of the home. DON'T
JUST WALK AWAY FROM A POTENTIALLY GOOD BUY.
What are the average monthly utility bills?
How much are the real estate taxes? Has there been an increase
lately or is the area due for a reassessment? (Your real estate
agent, Bill, can help you with these questions).
Are there any major repairs needed in the near future?
Can you afford the monthly payments? Check the functions provided
in this software program.
Ask your realtor about a home warranty program. This will protect
you, the buyer, if any of the major appliances breaks down within
a given period of time...
Ask your realtor for a "report card" of the local schools.
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