Things You Should Know Before Buying a Home
Buy a house, they said…it’ll be fun they said. Don’t get me wrong, I’m over the moon excited that I have my very own house that has been purchased with my own money. It’s a huge accomplishment that I will remember for the rest of my life. There were a few hiccups along the way, however, and there were actually several tips I learned after I purchased my home that I wish I considered beforehand.
By understanding some of the things I learned after buying a house for the first time, you can avoid some of these potential pitfalls.
Research the Taxes
Taxes are expensive and are not something that is often considered when purchasing a house. When I was a kid, I’d always watch these shows that offered sweepstakes to win a brand-new house and I thought that was amazing. Then I’d later find out that they had to sell it because they couldn’t afford it, and that just did not make sense to me.
Now, I get it. Taxes on homes, depending on the location, can be ridiculous. As a matter of fact, while the taxes for our home are manageable, the taxes for the housing right across the street are only half! Location plays a huge role in the cost of taxes so make sure you do your research and take it into account when budgeting.
You might even want to challenge the tax assessment after owning the home. There are times when you will discover that you’re paying at lot more on taxes that your neighbor even though yoy have very similar properties.
Where Are the Schools, and How Good Are They?
This is something we almost overlooked. We found a great house in a nice, quiet neighborhood for an amazing price. But the school we’d love to take our child to would be a thirty-minute drive each way. It doesn’t sound horrible at first, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized that we would have to drive two hours every day.
If you have a school in mind, plan your search around that. If you don’t have one in mind yet, be sure to at least research the quality of the schools before you make an offer.
The Forever Parking Situation
In our city, there are tons of beautiful neighborhoods with quaint brick roads lined with aged trees. It is very picturesque. The catch? These homes have close to no parking. The driveways for these homes – because the homes are more “historic” – tend to have shrunken after several home renovations to increase the square footage of the home.
You’ll be lucky to have a two-car driveway and even luckier to be able to accommodate guests. If you are currently being entranced by a home, or worse, a townhouse or condo, be sure to ask about the difficulty level of parking.
If you have a larger family or have guests visit regularly, this may prove to be a bigger issue once you move in, so regardless of how much you like the look of the home, you need to make sure it works logistically as well.
Get the Flood Insurance!
No matter where you live or how much it rains, be sure to get flood insurance. The second you decide to opt out of flood insurance is the day you will experience a freak torrential thunderstorm that floods your entire home.
I’ve experienced this. What’s more? Flood insurance only costs around $600 for the entire year, so for a little peace of mind in knowing that I am completely covered, I am willing to spend the money. Keep in mind that some areas you will be required to have flood insurance. There are flood maps that will determine this.
Get the House Inspected…and Get it Inspected Again
Getting your house inspected could be a requirement for getting approved for a mortgage, depending on the type of loan you get. It’s one of the potential questions you may want to ask a lender to make sure everything goes smoothly with your mortgage and there are no unexpected surprises.
A potential issue, however, is that your inspections do not cover everything. Be sure to get another inspection to cover all your bases and then get one to two more specialized inspections depending on your needs, like a termite inspection or a mold inspection.
This can also lead to some great negotiation strategies to make sure your home is in good shape. For example, it would be wise to negotiate a home warranty into the purchase of the home.
More often than not, you will be able to get the fixes done that you need beforehand, get a warranty to fix the issues later or shave down the cost of the home so that you may fix the issues after closing. Keep in mind, however, that some issues that pop up in an inspection might have to be fixed if they are code violations.
Keep an Eye Out for Street Lights
You more than likely checked out your home during the day, so the last thing you noticed was the presence of street lights, but at night, having proper lighting in your neighborhood is essential for safety and security.
Be sure to drive through your potential neighborhood at night to make sure it is properly lit and also to just get a feel for what the area looks like at night and how comfortable you feel. This will both give you a sense of security in your decision or give you the time to seriously consider if you are okay with the lighting and safety of your future neighborhood.
Another pro tip is to also make sure that you don’t buy in a spot where the heads lights from cars will be beaming into your home at night.
Are You Okay with Your House Right Now?
If you are planning on moving into your home after closing, you need to seriously ask yourself this: “Are you okay with how your home looks, right now?” You may have all the ambition in the world to completely gut the entire home to make it look according to your personal style, but the fact of the matter is, that takes time and you are moving in before those changes are made.
Along with this, life happens. If you have a family, you may wind up getting sucked back into the day-to-day chaos pretty quickly after move-in and then not find the time to make the changes you wanted in the timeline you anticipated—are you okay with that?
Along with that, if you jumped into a fixer-upper, you need to make sure your home is safe enough for you to live in until the larger changes are made. Make sure that your home is, at the very least, livable as it currently is and at the most, you are OK staring at that green wall for a couple of months until you have the time to paint it.
Buying a home for the first time is a big deal. It is important to due all of your due diligence. Don’t get caught up in just the house. Make sure your research includes getting information on the neighborhood, crime rate, schools, nearby conveniences and even what the neighbors are like.
Taking the time to do research is a vital part of being confident you’re making the right housing choice.
About the author: The above article on lessons learned when buying a home for the first time was written by Amanda Turner. Amanda is a freelance writer and recent graduate who is exploring her passions through writing.