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Red Check Mark for Home Buying TipsHome Buyer's Tips
Here are some things to keep in mind when in the market for a new home. One of the biggest mistakes that a home buyer can make is to continue to look for that "ideal" house while passing up perfectly good houses in the process. If this is your first house, chances are it will not be the last one that you will buy. As you delay your purchase, home prices will probably continue to rise and quite possibly, interest rates will too.

Having stated that, you should not rush into the biggest financial transaction of your life without careful consideration. For this reason, I have highlighted most of the major items that you need to consider when looking to buy. With good planning, you can join the millions of other families who own their own homes and are taking advantage of the many benefits that are available to home owners.

Starting with the obvious: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.

What kinds of things are important to you? Will you be near stores, schools, parks, restaurants, theaters, supermarkets? Do you mind being on a busy street or would you rather be on a quiet cul-de-sac? Is the house near public transportation? How far is it to work?

PREFERENCES:

Rate each of the following as: A - must have, B - high priority, C - medium priority, D - low priority.

___ Style of house - one story, two story, split level, etc.
___ Size of yard
___ Number of bedrooms
___ Number of baths
___ Bath in master bedroom
___ Eat-in kitchen
___ Separate dining room
___ Basement (Do you want a finished basement?)
___ Fireplace
___ Garage (1 car, 2 car)
___ Windows in the kitchen
___ Windows in the bathrooms
___ Plenty of sunlight in the other rooms
___ Maintenance free windows, gutters, trim, siding
___ Lots of closet space (walk-in closets)
___ Adequate storage (attic, crawl space, etc.)
___ Trees on the property and in the neighborhood
___ Children in the neighborhood
___ Air-conditioning
___ Type of heating system
___ Porch or deck
___ Dishwasher, garbage disposal
___ City water or well water
___ Septic system or sewers
___ Fuse Box or Circuit Breakers

EXAMINING THE HOME:

Note: If any of the following items are unacceptable, it doesn't necessarily mean that you should not buy the house. You can negotiate the cost of the repairs and/or negotiate the price.

Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect house. As any home owner will tell you, something is always in need of fixing or upgrading. What you want to do is protect yourself from any unexpected large expenses. You should also arrange for a home inspection to be made by a professional prior to your purchase.

OUTSIDE:

Do not just rely on your impression upon seeing the home for the first time. In looking beyond the "curb" appeal, you may be able to get a great deal on a home that can be enhanced with just a few improvements. Things like bushes that aren't trimmed or an unkempt lawn are two examples of improvements that can be made with a minor investment of time and money.

The home inspector will point out some of the following items, but it's a good idea to be aware of them before you make an offer on a home. (The home inspector is normally contacted after an offer is made.)

Ask the age of the roof and whether it leaks. An old roof or one that has several layers of shingles can mean an expensive repair in the near future. A properly ventilated attic or crawl space will extend the life of a roof. (A roof can usually have 2 to 3 layers of shingles before it needs to be completely replaced.)

Check the gutters. Are they pulling away from the house?

Check the foundation. Look for signs of water or wetness in the basement. Vertical or diagonal cracks in the foundation are not usually serious, but horizontal cracks can be.

Windows and doors should open and shut easily.

Check the caulk around the windows and doors.

What's the condition of the siding? Will it need to be replaced soon?

Are the outside steps pulling away from the house?

How is the driveway? (Unless they are new, blacktop driveways will usually have some cracks. Look for major cracks and large pieces of missing blacktop.)

Is the landscaping in good condition?

INSIDE:

What is the floor plan like? Is it suitable for your family? How about the room sizes? Are they big enough ... or too big?

Check the water pressure by turning on several faucets at the same time, and flushing the toilet.

Check under the sinks for water leakage.

Check for signs of water on the ceiling and walls (stains and peeled paint).

Check the number and location of electric outlets.

Ask about insulation in the house.

Are there stains in the tub or sinks?

How old are the appliances and utilities (hot water heater, furnace, dishwasher, washer, dryer, stove, refrigerator, air-conditioner)? A furnace
can last from 25 to 30 years. An air-conditioner will last for about 15 years. A hot water heater will last about 10 years. These are just estimates. The life span of any appliance depends on how well it was made and whether it has received proper maintenance.

Remember, if you like a home that is in need of repair, you can negotiate the cost of repairs and/or the cost of the home. DON'T JUST WALK AWAY FROM A POTENTIALLY GOOD BUY.

FINANCIAL:

What are the average monthly utility bills?

How much are the real estate taxes? Has there been an increase lately or is the area due for a reassessment? (Your real estate agent, Bill, can help you with these questions).

Are there any major repairs needed in the near future?

Can you afford the monthly payments? Check the functions provided in this software program.

GENERAL:

Ask your realtor about a home warranty program. This will protect you, the buyer, if any of the major appliances breaks down within a given period of time...

Ask your realtor for a "report card" of the local schools.

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