If you’ve been through the home buying process before, you know that the seller is required to provide a disclosure form detailing everything they know to be a defect about the home. And ask any realtor that’s been around the block a few times and they probably have some horror stories about those disclosure forms being used as evidence in the court of law after the new owners sued the previous owners. Nobody wants to find themselves in a situation like that, especially not you as a new homeowner. You want to love your new home, not be dragging people into court because of it.
Look out for water damage
One of the worst things you can discover about a home after purchasing it is that it has water damage. And if you’re new to the home buying process, even the most obvious signs can get missed. You become enthralled with the home, and viewing it becomes a very emotional process and it can cloud your judgement. Hopefully your realtor has a keen eye for visible signs of water damage, but the reality is a lot of water damage can be invisible. It’s only once things really start to deteriorate that the signs become visible. At that point you’ve got a pretty situation on your hands.
If you see worrisome signs, it’s probably best to call in a certified water damage mitigation company to look for moisture problems in the home. They can use various tools to get a very clear picture of whether or not there are underlying moisture issues. If there are, you have some serious thinking to do about whether or not to move forward with the transaction. Depending on the response from the sellers, you may have additional concerns to worry about: black mold. If the moisture problem has been ongoing (and either wasn’t detected or was ignored by the current owners), chances are the situation has become toxic. Mold remediation is incredibly expensive, but beyond that is the emotional toll. Never knowing if the home you’re about to live in (and hopefully love) is truly safe for your family.
Any real estate professional will tell you one of their biggest concerns is water damage. Water is constantly attacking homes and they see firsthand the damages it can cause. So if you see some signs that there may be water damage, you owe it to yourself to pay a water damage company to come out and fully assess the situation and figure out if it’s just a cosmetic issue or if there are serious problems that make the home unsafe that need to be addressed.
One thing we always try and stress to people before the begin the home buying process is to educate yourself beforehand. Do as much homework as you can before you even begin looking at houses. Oftentimes the home buying process can be an emotional one, and if you aren’t educated you’re more at risk of making a poor decision tied to emotions rather than facts and data.
Understand your realtor’s motive
We don’t think all realtors are bad people. They’re not. Some are better at their jobs than others. But all realtors have to do a job in order to feed their families. They get paid when you buy or sell a property. It’s about transaction volumes for them…in other words, how many transactions can they complete in one month. Realtors want you to buy or sell a home and they’d prefer it if you did it quickly so they could move on to the next client. And then they’d prefer if you sold then bought another house using them within a couple of years. Picking up on a trend? Volume, volume, volume.
If you don’t know much of anything about real estate, you have to educate yourself first. Before you speak to any realtor, do your homework. This is especially true if you are a first time homebuyer. Get unfiltered information before you rely on the advice of people whose job it is to make sure you buy or sell your home (preferably as quickly as possible). Before we embarked on buying our first home, I bought ‘Home Buying for Dummies’. It was hugely helpful, and I learned so many things that I had no idea about. And that was especially true when it came to how to approach realtors.
HGTV has some good advice every first time homebuyer should know. Here are some things we think are particularly relevant:
- set your priorities before you begin your search – as we said, buying home can become extremely emotional. And extreme emotions combined with stress (and in some cases the need to make a decision very quickly) can lead to poor decisions. The best way to combat a bad decision is to have a very firm picture of what you want and where you want it. That’s going to take some soul searching. You have to sit down and truly prioritize what you want in a home. What are the absolute must-haves and what are the ‘gosh it would be neat if’ items? When you’re faced with a tough decision, go back and consult your list. Does the property stack up or are you reaching? If you’re reaching, step back and take a break.
- know your budget and stick to it – this is so important because too many people don’t take the time to understand what impact owning a home will have on their monthly finances. They then get pre-approved for a home that is way to expensive for them, buy a home at that price and watch their personal finances go into shambles. Do you actually know what you can comfortably spend on a home? What monthly mortgage will allow you to continue living your life as you’ve become accustomed to while allowing you to save money each month. If you’re not one to focus on personal finances, now is the time to do so. When you buy a home, you’re making a huge (and long-term) financial decision. Don’t you owe it to yourself to make the right one?