Home Buyer Beware: Checking Out Your New Home
After years of counting your pennies to save for a down payment, you have finally been pre-approved for a mortgage. You’ve spent hours touring homes with a real estate agent and have fallen in love with the natural light in the kitchen of your potential new home. But before you start dreaming of decorating and arranging furniture, you need to spend some time inspecting the house you are considering.
Purchasing a home will be one of your largest investments, and before you sign on the dotted line, you need to be sure everything is as good as it seems.
Get a General Home Inspection
Though a home inspection is not generally required to complete the purchase, you should always have one, even for new construction homes. The inspection, which will cost a few hundred dollars, will be well worth the price for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything is as it should be. As Investopedia explains, an inspector will look over all aspects of both the interior and exterior of the house. Outside, a professional home inspector will look at the foundation for signs of cracking or settling, at the walls for cracked siding or missing mortar, and at the roof for missing or loose shingles and weak spots. Inside the home, an inspector will check both the plumbing and electrical systems. He will also look at the heating and cooling system and the water heater. In the bathrooms, he will look for signs of leaks or improperly attached fixtures.
A general home inspection is the most important part of ensuring that the home you are looking at is safe, sound, and worth the price tag. As Forbes suggests, you’ll need to check the credentials of the inspectors to ensure they are fully qualified. You will also need to attend the appointment. Not only does this allow you be sure a thorough inspection is performed, you can use the time to inspect the home on your own.
Once the inspection is complete, the inspector will provide you with a list of issues and problems. This is your tool to negotiate a lower price, ask for repairs to be completed before the purchase is completed, or walk away from the house completely.
Get Expert Inspections
Most home inspectors are generalists with a bit of knowledge about all aspects of construction. However, they are usually not experts in any one area. They will usually be able to tell you if there is a problem, but they may not be able to tell you what the specific problem is or what it will cost to repair. If you have any doubt, it pays to schedule an additional inspection from an expert. Roofs are a particular concern because they can be damaged over time or in poor weather, are inspected infrequently, and are expensive to repair or replace. As Home Advisor explains, some lenders and insurance companies require that roofs are inspected and certified before the purchase is complete.
Check Local Floodplains
Purchasing a home in a floodplain not only poses a risk that can lead to evacuations and property damage, it will also mean purchasing additional insurance. Before committing to a home, use FEMA’s maps to check if the location is classified as a floodplain or flood way. If it is, determine how great the risk of flooding is, and what the additional flood insurance cost will be, before deciding to proceed with the purchase
Talk to the Homeowners Association
In many areas, homeowners associations have a big impact on both the neighborhood and individual homes. Before diving into a home purchase, find out as much as possible about the community’s HOA. Follow Investopedia’s advice and ask for written copies of the rules and guidelines so that you understand what is expected from homeowners. Also, since you will likely be paying HOA fees on top of your mortgage, find out how funds are handled and how often fees are increased. Though the sellers or your real estate agent can answer many of these questions, it’s a good idea to speak directly to a representative of the association. Not only will you get the answers you need, it will also give you to opportunity to learn the temperament of the organization.
Get The School’s Grade
Not everything you need to check out and inspect is right in your potential new home. You’ll also need to think about how your home purchase will impact the rest of your life. A big part of moving is enrolling children in a new school. Before deciding if a home is right for your family, use a website like Great Schools to see how public and private institutions on the area are doing.
You’ll be able to look at reviews from other parents, average test scores, and enrollment information, all of which can be helpful in making an informed decision.