Buying your first home?
Well, we're not, because we're broke millennials, but maybe you are! And if you are--do you feel overwhelmed by the things to check for? Do you even know what to look for? Well, we're here to help.
u/pw1016 asked Reddit: What should someone know before buying their first house?
Here's what they had to say.
One Extra Step
When searching online, you'll see some great looking exterior pictures. Check Google Street View to see what the surroundings really look like.
That one extra step saved us from going to look at about half the houses in-person.
Everyone talks about the house itself; the yard also matters in terms of how much work and expense the place will be. Is the landscaping competent? Is it kept up?
Lazy gardeners will often attempt a few quick fixes, leaving the buyer with serious work afterward.
Go through the calculations in the paperwork. My husband found a $2,500 mistake. He had to argue it out before the company would acknowledge we were being double charged in one area. We think the company has been doing this for awhile. Most people accept what the professionals do as correct.
If the room below the bathroom has a freshly painted ceiling and it's the only one in the house, you probably have leaks somewhere.
Location Location Location
You can do a lot to a house in your time there. Repaint, redecorate, change the furniture, change the floors and wallpaper, add or remove walls, convert the attic or even add an extension.
You cannot change the location of your house, so make sure it's an area you like. Traffic noise, congestion, whether there's a lot of pedestrian footfall, and if it's affected by the environment (vulnerable to flooding etc.) should all be checked out.
When was the roof last replaced, how old is the oil tank/furnace, is there vinyl windows, is the knob and tube wiring replaced, where are your property lines, was there flood/fire/mold/bug/mice problems, how good are your neighbors, is there lead paint. these are just a few...also please buy something you can easily afford because of life
Where Are You?
Walk through the neighborhood a couple of times on different times during the week. Look at the facilities like shops in the neighborhood.
Also look at the local governments future plans for the neighborhood. That view from your house might get spoiled in 2 years and the value of your house could seriously drop.
In real estate location is everything.
Primordial Flood Plains
As someone living in an area that was affected by Sandy back in 2012 and purchased a house since then... please look up flood maps from FEMA before you even consider putting in an offer for a house. Sure, it might sound dumb if you think the general area can't be flooded, but just check to make sure... because insurance for that can be a pain.
Thanks to that and a fellow helpful redditor, I actually didn't put in an offer for a house that would have been in a floodzone and probably cost an arm and a leg to insure.
How the sun rises and dip throughout the day. It helps with light and heat in a house if it shines in the windows however if it doesn't your house feels cold and dark all the time.
The Little Things
I always tell people buying their first home to make an estimate of all the little things they'll need to buy and then double it. Most people have a handle on the bigger things they'll need to buy, but don't consider the smaller, ancillary things. Sure, you'll need a lawnmower and you know that, but did you also consider the gas can, the files/bench grinder to sharpen the blades, the weed whacker, a way to water it? Did you consider that you'll want to overseed and aerate and fertilize your lawn every year? Now your lawn looks amazing, but the landscaping looks terrible in comparison, so time to start looking into a wheelbarrow and some garden tools and shrubs and flowers. Now you have all these tools, but you're running out of space to store them. Maybe time to start looking into adding/upgrading your shed or reorganizing your garage to make more space. It all costs more than you'd expect.
Be realistic about what you'll need, because after plopping down your life savings for your down payment, you'll still need money left over if you have any plans of improving your property. Expect several trips to the hardware store every weekend and expect to be depressed every time you swipe your card.
I'm not sure how applicable this is outside of the UK, but i'll post it anyway:
Do not under any circumstances trust the surveyor / inspector your lender sends to check out the property. So many people try to save money on getting a proper full inspection because they think the bank's surveyor will cover them - they won't. Their job is not to make sure you're getting a deal or that the house is OK, is to check there is enough value in the property for the bank to recoup the loan by selling it at a low price if you default. Since our land values are so high, this is often satisfied by the value of the land alone, and I know people who've bought absolute lemons of houses because the bank surveyor said it was all OK, before later finding serious issues that cost a lot to fix.
After you put in your offer there's often some minor back and forth negotiating. For example, you offer $10,000 below their asking price and they counter with "OK, but we want to take the chandelier."
It's easy to get wrapped up in these negotiations and lose sight of the big picture. You probably didn't care about the chandelier, but as soon as they made it an issue you feel obliged to fight for it. "If you want the chandelier, then you have to throw in the patio furniture."
"No, we're keeping the patio furniture!"
"Screw you, the deals off!"
Don't let yourself get taken advantage of, but don't walk away from a good deal because of a minor disagreement.
Small but worthwhile fact: If your down payment is less than 20% of the home's price, you'll have to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance). But as you slowly pay it off and your equity rises above 20%, you can cancel the PMI.
I mention this for two reasons: so you're aware you'll be paying that monthly fee, and so you can make a note to cancel it when you get above 20%. (Your lender won't do that automatically - you have to inform them.)
For the love of god, if you don't like the color of the paint and that somehow makes the house less attractive, YOU CAN PAINT OVER IT YOUR GOD DAMN SELF.
My first house was more than I could afford, I had a constant feeling of drowning or a huge weight pressing down on my chest, my second house takes much less of my income to pay for and it feels really good. I can travel and do cool stuff with my family now.
Also, you are buying a neighborhood. Make sure you like the neighbors.
Never buy a house from a flipper. They are very good at covering up problems in such a way that you won't notice them until you've lived in the house for a bit.
After we bought our house, we discovered a bunch of problems clearly caused by shoddy work, but the plumbing was a doozy. One week after we moved in, sewage started leaking up from a floor drain that had been hastily covered up. Turns out main drain pipe under the house was falling apart . We spent a couple weeks with very limited water use and a trench dug through our finished basement.
With that in mind, make sure the home inspector scopes the plumbing, including the drain pipes leaving the house. They don't all do this, so make sure you ask.
Get the damn thing professionally inspected, and study the output report carefully.
Walk the neighborhood and look at the condition of the close neighbor's homes. Check for things like lawns covered in dog turds or junky half-repaired cars that could indicate loud neighbors or pets.
Figure out which rooms are going to get the most use and concentrate on selecting a house that provides those rooms. For example, if you like a lot of light and sun, ensure the decks and windows line up with where the sun is at. If you appreciate good food, prioritize the kitchen.
Costs Of Removal
If you have a lot of trees, have them checked out by an arborist, especially in the winter or spring if they haven't bloomed yet. When we bought our first house we had a lot of dead and very expensive trees to remove.
It's not fun being "house poor". That's where you can't afford to do anything (travel, entertainment, travel, etc...) because of your payments. Just because your budget is 250k doesn't mean you should get a house for 249k. You don't need to spend the max. Get a 150 or 175k. Also, homes need repairs. Always something happening.
A Cohesive Unit
Check out the neighbors. You'll probably be looking at the house around mid-day, but keep in mind most people are at work during this time. If you check it out around 6-7, you get a much better feel for how the neighborhood operates. For example, is there that one family that hangs out in their front yard, letting their dog run around the neighborhood unleashed, with their child running around in diapers crying? Yeah, avoid that street.