Recently someone was telling me about this couple they know who were buying their first home after living in an Apartment for the first 5 years of their marriage.
The couple had some very different thoughts about what aspects of different homes were right for them. Both of the spouses were college educated. The wife was working in business and the husband was a new graduate lawyer.
When I was hearing the description of what they went through I was really hoping that the husband would step up and use some of his skills as a lawyer and that maybe he had an idea of how homes are built and did a little research. You know lawyers are all about research if they are going to win the case.. unfortunately in this case he was lacking.
However I can’t say his wife really took the horns when researching homes… although she did do some looking online and she knew her husband was a nitpicker there was still no plan from this educated couple who chose to waste 5 years on rent instead of looking for a deal and putting that rent into a mortgage.
In the end though they did make a pretty decent choice.
First their realtor seemed biased about which homes she showed to them. All but one was in a community with a HOA association.. and the couple was smart enough to look away from all of those and choose a single family home that needed cosmetic work in every room of the house rather then get themselves stuck in a HOA community that would be restrictive for the future.
The HOA homes were all move in ready with very few details that the husband was nitpicking about but even in the home they selected there were still things he couldn’t get past. The community homes also had pools on the home’s property or a community pool and fitness center. The stand alone home did not have these things or even a gym right down the road.
So, when describing the choices this couple made in the end I agree with their choice. The final home was of good quality but needed paint in every room because the former owners were “stylish” heh with stripes and bright colors that really made the space ugly. This probably helped in the final bid for the home because many people were probably not ready for the work it would take to repaint every room of the house.
So, What shouldn’t you get overly anxious about when buying a home?
First thing is you should get it deep in your mind before you start looking is that even a brand new home where you select all the surfaces, colors and materials will take a good amount of work by you to make it your home.
You should consider the cost or changes that you will need to make against the amount you will pay for the home.
In the case above every room had to be painted and that means a lot of work or the costly hiring of professionals. Painting is definitely something that every home owner will have to learn and whether it is your first house or your last house you can do the work as long as the home is structurally sound.
Fixtures such as blinds, ceiling fans, ceiling lights, toilets, sinks and other parts of the home that don’t normally get taken by the person leaving should be in working order but if they do not match your taste they can be replaced.
Since you are moving into a used home it is pretty much suggested by everyone that you replace the carpet for health reasons even if it looks good. You don’t know what type of animal or human soiling has happened and is embedded in the carpet and carpet pad. If you have breathing problems you may want to replace it with hard surface flooring like wood or tile.
This first group of items should never be a deal breaker however there are some things that are borderline or are a definite cause for lowering your bid or just walking away.
What items should you think twice about before putting in a bid?
The most important thing is always soundness of the structure. Has the home been built with materials that were engineered to provide a safe home or were architect plans ignored or modifications made that make this home unsafe.
Have a full inspection of the framing of the house and the foundation. You also want to have a full report on the roof and siding.
Replacing a roof can be very expensive and your home owners policy probably won’t cover replacement and no warranty will be given by the seller. It can cost you ten thousand for a re-shingle or tens of thousands for a re-roof depending on the damage. An inspection will probably give you an estimate of how long until the work needs to be done and anything longer then a couple years won’t be something you can get an offset on.
Step outside of the home and you should consider the grading of the lot. Was the home placed and the lot graded to allow quick runoff of heavy rain? If not then you may endup with a lake in your backyard for a few weeks of the spring and fall. Grading can be very expensive if you have to build with stone or concrete or move a lot of soil.
Trees are also another problem most people overlook because most people do not consider branches or trees falling on their home during a storm they just think they look pretty. Your inspector should walk the lot and indicate any tree within a potential fall zone that has health problems. An arborist should then make a final inspection. And remember the leaves you will need to collect every fall. This also means cleaning of gutters.
So, structure and safety are your highest concerns what else should you consider?
Any high priced ticket item such as a furnace, air conditioner, water and sewage systems if you do not have county lines to the house.
You should also consider ease of access in the home. If you plan on living in the home for a long time you will find that eventually stairs are not going to be your friend and instead of placing your washer and dryer in the basement you may need to place them in a kitchen. Doorway widths are also a concern and you really want as many 36 inch doors as possible. Often a master bedroom with a bath will have a 36 inch door but the bathroom may not be easily accessible.
Final Considerations which are probably your first
Where is the home located? Are taxes the same in your area or if you lived a few miles away would they be less? It makes a big difference when you live within a city limit even if it is a very small town because open county areas often allow much more freedom.
This is true for developments with Home Owner Associations as the buyer above was looking at. For my own personal preference I would NEVER own a home in a HOA area… with one exception… If I ever win the 300 million dollar lotto then I will live in a Gated Community where the whole development is under security. Either that or a large farm with lots of my own security. But that is much different then the group of idiots down the street from you dictating what flag you can fly or what color shutters you can have on your house and basically making your life a pain as often as they can while they allow their friends to get away with anything they want.
And you also want to consider if your home is in a safe location. You may be in the safest neighborhood in the area but are you on a busy street? This can be a problem for people with kids.
Picking and choosing what you want is important but don’t let little things get in the way of picking the right home.
Take into account the cost of things you will definitely need to replace and live with the things that you can handle over time.
If your counter tops are laminate but of good quality don’t worry about it. Factor the cost to replace them maybe but understand this is something that can be changed in under a week. One week of a lifetime you expect to live in this home.
And I should also say to Sellers.. if you have a buyer that is nitpicking don’t go out of your way to satisfy them unless the cost to you is small. Every buyer wants to get a deal no matter how perfect the home seems to them. The realtor is likely to suggest that the buyer put together a list of grievances just to get you to come down on your asking price.
This process of nitpicking over a few percent on a home that will take 30 years to pay off will last in your mind the whole time you are in the home. I can’t tell you how many people that have lived in homes five, ten or even twenty years come to me with stories about how they first bought their home and the difficulty they went through.
Just get over it.. buy the home that the previous owner use to own… then make it your home.