November 30th, 2012
When a buyer has been pre-approved for a mortgage and found what seems to be the perfect home, they may feel like they can move forward with signing the paperwork. However, what lies beneath the surface of a home could be cause for concern, and it’s crucial that buyers take several steps to ensure the home is truly worth the investment. Otherwise, they may purchase the house only to find that it’s a money pit. Consumers should keep in mind that once the paperwork is signed, there is little recourse they can take if they develop buyer’s remorse.
To prevent this from happening, individuals who are ready to make an offer on a house should take the following steps.
1. Visit the property frequently. A single visit is not enough to make a true determination on whether a home is the right fit for a family. After looking at several poor choices, the first time a buyer views a decent home they may think they have found “the one,” but looks can be deceiving. Instead, the National Association of Realtors recommends that individuals look at the home several times and during various points of the day. Home buyers may find that the house lets in too much light and diminishes privacy early in the morning, or discover that the neighborhood turns noisy at night. A late afternoon visit may reveal congestion and traffic. For these reasons, viewing the house frequently can enlighten buyers to issues that may be a deal breaker down the road.
2. Have it inspected. A mortgage service company is not responsible for ensuring the a house is physically functional or safe. Instead, buyers will need to hire a home inspector to explore the property’s soundness. Failing to do so could get buyers locked into a home that requires considerable repairs and alterations that could run into the thousands of dollars. There are a number of potentially costly issues that cannot be seen with the naked eye and require a professional. This includes water damage, structural issues or problems with the foundation, poor plumbing, faulty electrical wiring or asbestos. Some repairs are lengthy and expensive, and may determine a person’s decision to stick with the home or look elsewhere. Buyers should know that they can require the current homeowner to fix the repairs before closing or lower the cost of the home. Because some repairs are difficult to spot, consumers should not go cheap on finding a qualified and experienced inspector.
While these inspections typically cost a few hundred dollars, they can end up saving buyers thousands in the end.
3. Get to know the neighbors. Most sellers are honest about their home’s condition, community amenities and nearby school districts, but this is not always the case. To get a more objective view of the area, buyers may consider talking to neighbors to learn more about their potential investment. They may give more information on nearby activities, the pros and cons of the area, community safety, neighborhood associations and other pertinent details.
4. Know the true cost of owning the home. There are several other costs that come into play after becoming a homeowner. Utility bills, trash pick-up, property taxes and maintenance can be significant costs for owners. Therefore, it might be helpful to contact the local tax office to determine the average tax rates they can expect to pay. In addition, buyers might want to ask the sellers if they would be willing to provide a copy of all utility bills to gauge their monthly costs.