20 Things to Do Before Buying a House
- Know your credit score
- Have a lender pre-approve you before shopping so you know what you can afford
- Work with a skilled realtor that knows your area
- Have a list of features you need as well as your wants
- See multiple homes to compare neighborhoods, styles and floor layouts.
- Understand the actual value of any property you are buying
- Buy what you are comfortable paying for
- Create a housing budget
- Verify all information in the listing
- Try to see yourself in the home
- Don’t stress the wall colors and carpet condition
- Get a home inspection
- Be sure you understand any additional fees such as HOA, taxes, insurance, utilities, etc.
- Don’t do anything to affect your financial situation
- Location, Location, Location! Think of school districts, distance from first responders and shopping.
Before you buy a home, one thing to consider is hiring a professional home inspector. Your realtor will have names of ones they have worked with and know their reputations, so do not be afraid to ask. Yes, buying a home can be expensive enough, so why more especially if it is not required:
- The Home Inspection Contingency: When you place an offer on the house you chose, you can add a contingency of home inspection, This allows you to back out of the deal without penalty, providing the home inspection shows a major or considerable issue. So it becomes a low cost “insurance policy” against major and very expensive issues down the road.
- Routine Maintenance: A good inspector will tell you about routine maintenance that should be performed, which can be a great help to know what costs might be coming up to maintain your new property. If you are a first-time homebuyer, an inspection can give you a crash course in home maintenance and a checklist of items that need attention to make your home as safe and sound as possible.
- Repairs Prior to Final Sale: For problems large or small, you can ask the seller to fix them, reduce the purchase price, or to give you a cash credit at closing to fix the problems yourself. This is where a home inspection can pay for itself several times over.
- New Home Inspection: Just because a home is new construction, does not mean it is free of defects in materials or workmanship! A home inspection can be valuable in both new and older homes and businesses.
Worth the Investment
The average cost to hire a home inspector is $270-480, but that varies greatly, depending on the size of the home and the region. A home inspection will cost you a little bit of time and money, but in the long run could save you big!
What a Home Inspection Covers
Inspectors vary in experience, ability, and thoroughness, but a good inspector should examine certain components of the home and then produce a report covering his or her findings. The typical inspection lasts two to three hours and you should be present for the inspection to get a firsthand explanation of the inspector’s findings and, if necessary, ask questions.
Also, any problems the inspector uncovers will make more sense if you see them in person instead of relying solely on the snapshot photos in the report. The inspector will look at a lot of items which can include grading and exterior Drainage, garage or carport, roofing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, water heater, kitchen appliances, laundry room, fire safety, and bathrooms.
The inspector should note:
- Whether each problem is a safety issue, major defect, or minor defect
- Which items need replacement and which should be repaired or serviced
- Items that are suitable for now but that should be monitored closely
Not Covered in a Home Inspection
A home inspection can’t identify everything that might be wrong with the property; it only checks for visual cues to problems. For example, if the home’s doors do not close properly or the floors are slanted, the foundation might have a crack, but if the crack can’t be seen without pulling up all the flooring in the house, a home inspector can’t tell you for sure if it’s there. Remember that there are some areas inspectors won’t look at including inside walls, inside pipes or sewer lines, inside chimneys, behind electrical panels.
Furthermore, most home inspectors are generalists – that is, they can tell you that the plumbing might have a problem, but then they will recommend that you hire an expert to verify the problem and give you an estimate of the cost to fix it. Of course, hiring additional inspectors will cost extra money. Home inspectors also do not specifically check for issues like termite damage, site contamination, mold, asbestos engineering problems, and other specialized problems.
If they have reason to suspect, though, they’ll likely give you a heads up. Some inspectors offer radon testing as an add-on; some will recommend asbestos testing services if your home appears to be at risk.
However, problems without visual cues – pests, radon, lead – may crop up after the inspection.
It’s important to put things in perspective. Remember that an inspection is:
- Not the sole determinant for buying a house. Maybe you’re willing to make some renovations on the house with these problems. The inspection will help you determine exactly how many you’ll need to do.
- Never free and clear of problems. An inspection will always find a problem with a home. Even new home constructions will have small issues that need to be addressed.
- Not about getting all the fixes done. No seller is going to fix everything for you. They may negotiate on some of them, but expecting resolution of all issues is unreasonable.