When you are considering buying a home there are certain steps you should take to make sure the experience is a successful one.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be stress but you can reduce that stress by following these simple tips.
Hire a experienced Realtor, not just a real estate agent.
A Realtor has access to tools that other agents do not and they tend to have more education in real estate than other agents as well.
A Realtor has a code of ethics they need to follow and they have taken the time and money needed to join a professional association. In other words a Realtor is a real estate professional, not just someone that sells houses.
Select a few different agents and interview them, don’t just use someone because they are your sister’s, boyfriend’s, father. Ask them about their last transaction, ask if they work with buyers and sellers, how long have they been in the business, ask for referrals from past clients. This person is going to help you make one of the biggest investments of your life, find someone you can relate to and trust.
Pre-Qualify for your home. Don’t make large purchases on credit.
If you purchase a new car or home entertainment system it can reduce the available credit you have and prevent you from qualifying for the home you want. Wait, or you can pay cash for the item so it doesn’t effect your credit
Don’t get new credit cards before, (or right after) you qualify for the loan, this will also reduce what you qualify for.
Find Your Home
Find the home you will be happy in for the next 5 years, Yes think about the future, if your planning on having children than that one bedroom condo will likely not work very well.
After you find the home check out the hidden fees, like the HOA, property taxes, etc. You may be surprised how different taxes can be from one county to another. For more information about hidden home expenses click here
Make sure the CC&R’s do not prevent you from using the home as you plan. Some places will not let you run a business from your home or they will not let your friends park on your street. Check this out before you buy.
Take photos of the homes you look at.
This will help you remember what you liked about each home as well as help you document what was installed in the home when you made your offer. Today there are a lot of people stripping appliances and ceiling fans as well as other things out of the home. Photos will help you prove what was there when you made the offer and will stop the he said, she said argument.
Hire a professional Home Inspector
Hiring a professional home inspector may be one of the single most important things you need to do.
You may be tempted to hire the inexpensive person, or just have a friend or relative do the inspection, but this is not the same as hiring a professional. Think of the inspector as a Doctor or general practitioner, they will examine the home and determine if it needs repairs or if there is a problem that needs a specialist, like a electrician or roofer.
Again you want someone that belongs to a professional association like ASHI (The American Society of Home Inspectors) or NAHI (The National Association of Home Inspectors) Both of these organizations have difficult tests, standards, ethics, as well as education and experience requirements. The important thing here is these organizations enforce their requirements, if you don’t get your continuing education every year they will remove you from their web site.
If home inspectors in your state is licensed you will want to verify the person you hire is in compliance with the local laws. Since the real estate market has dropped, many inspectors did not renew their state licenses however if they are called they still perform the inspections.
Check the cost of Home Owners Insurance
After you get the inspection contact your home owners insurance agent and see what the insurance is going to cost for this home.
There are several things that may show up on a home inspection report that can have a finical impact on your home owners insurance for example:
- Aluminum or knob and tube wiring instead of copper.
- Is there a swimming pool? Does the pool have a slide or diving board?
These things can make your rates jump and some companies have stopped writing policies on homes with Aluminum wiring or Knob and tube wiring. You don’t want to buy a home you can’t insure.
Many consumers believe that all home inspectors are licensed and trained. Nothing could be further from the truth. In most states, anyone can buy an occupational license and call themselves a home inspector. Less than a dozen states have licensing programs that require experience and recognized testing. Some states have minimal requirements. Caveat Emptor. You can find your state’s licensing requirements on the ASHI web site by clicking here In Arizona simply go to www.btr.state.az.us
Have Additional Inspections and the appraisal performed
This includes Radon inspections, Mold inspections, Termite or pest inspections, EIFS inspections, Energy inspections, Thermal imaging etc. Your Professional home inspector may offer some of these services, however, again you need to check their experience and qualifications. Just because someone spent a few thousand dollars on a thermal imaging (infrared) camera, does not mean they know how to use it or interpret the images.
You will also need a professional appraisal, with all the bank troubles that have been in the news lately the bad appraisers have mostly gone away.
Attend the walk through and closing
At the walk through: Bring the photos from your first visit, verify the appliances and ceiling fans are the ones that were there when you made the offer. If the sellers agreed to repair issues identified on the home inspection, then you may want to call the inspector and get a re-inspection. I always suggest you ask for copies of the receipts for any work the seller had performed and I suggest you discretely call the contractors and make sure that they performed the work. There have been sellers that will get a bid, then do the work themselves, and write paid on the bottom of the bid they give you to make it look like the work was done by a licensed professional.
At the closing: Ask questions, this is the last chance you have to get answers. There will be countless documents that need to be signed, make sure you understand what they are before you sign them. If repairs were agreed to and they were not performed this is where some of the money can be set aside so those repairs can be completed.
The bottom line is hundreds of homes are sold across the US every day, working with professionals can make your home buying experience a pleasant one.
If you want more information about home inspections, what to look for in an inspector, common issues found during a home inspection or how to get your home ready for a home inspection click the links.