Nov
08

House Hunting Tips

By
Matthew Young asked:

So you are thinking about buying a home huh? If you are a first-time home buyer, there are some important issues to take into consideration when beginning the journey of house-hunting. It is very easy to be bamboozled if you are someone that is young and single or even a married couple buying that first home if you don’t have someone that is very knowledgeable of homes and the pitfalls to avoid when buying. All too often people buy into a situation where a home has many problems that were unseen or don’t reveal themselves until well after the home is purchased. Unless maybe you are having a new home built, when you are house hunting, definitely go in with a “buyer beware” attitude with each and every home. If you are using a buyer’s agent, don’t count on them to weed out the pitfall homes for you. Buyer’s agents may appear to be on your side, but all they really want to do is get you to buy a home as quickly as possible so they can get that commission check and move on. About the only thing they are really good for is to use as a mediator between the buyer and seller when making an offer on buying a home. They will draft up the paperwork and do the talking for you. So here are some important suggestions to consider when buying a home:

1. The first thing you want to do is get a mortgage pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender. Find one with a good interest rate that you might use if taking out a mortgage. Just because they provide you with a pre-approval letter doesn’t mean you have to use them as a lender. But what it does mean, is that you are good for that loan amount and they will be ready right away to provide you with at a moments notice. In fact, most realestate agents won’t work with you if you don’t have a mortgage pre-approval. All too many times, people put offers on homes, but in the end are denied a mortgage anyhow. This wastes everyone’s time.

2. Get a buyer’s agent from a reputable realestate company. They are there to search out homes for you and then arrange for you to look at the home. They can arrange for the seller to vacate the home while you look through it. They will also mediate between you and the seller when it comes time to put down an offer. Most likely, the seller will have a seller’s agent.

3. This is a very important thing to remember: If you are buying a home that is not new, then about 85% of the time, the people that are selling it are definitely moving out for a reason. The other 15% are people that are either retirement age that are scaling down, people that have had their jobs relocated, or people who like the house but have come into some money and are simply moving “up”. From what I have found, the usual case is people put their homes up for sale because there is something that they don’t like about the home. The home might back up to a very busy street. I saw lots of those types of homes when I was home shopping. There could be major foundation problems. Heating and cooling problems. A bad home layout. A neighborhood with bad neighbors. Water issues around the foundation. The list goes on and on. It is issues like this that turn house hunting into a 3,4,5, or 6 month journey. You might look at 50 homes before you buy one.

4. Do not ever buy the first home you see. You have definitely got to have your agent show you at least several more homes if the situation arises where the first home you see is the one you want.

5. If you see a home you like that is within your price range, while you are looking through the home, definitely be looking for any problems as well. It is too easy to be distracted away from any problems or potential problems if you are too pre-occupied with looking at the home’s amenities. I will explain what problems to look for further down the page.

6. Because of the issues I mentioned above, such as the “85%” issue, defines a situation that I call a “hot house”. A “hot house” is a house that falls into the “15%” category of home sellers. These are homes that are priced reasonably, are in a good location, have a good layout, have been kept up very well, and are just a great buy. These are the types of homes that are put up on the market on a Friday, and sell by Saturday. Homes like this are not only nice to live in and easy to maintain, but are easy to sell if the time comes where you might want to move into another home one day. Typically, the selling agent of these types of homes already knows it is a “hot house”. Seller’s agent are also “buyer’s agents” as well. Being that they know it is a “hot house”, they will go find their own buyer for it and ignore your own buyer’s agent even if you want to make an offer on the house. They do this because if they can find their own buyer, they get all of the commission on the home. Typically, if a buyer’s agent is mediating with a seller’s agent, the buyer’s agent will get 2%-3% commission and the seller’s agent will get the other 2%-3% commission. The commission is based on the final selling price of the home. A selling agent that finds a buyer on his own will act as both the selling and buying agent. Therefore, he or she will get all of the 4%-7% commission of the home. So there is some conflict of interest when it comes to buying a home. Hopefully, maybe, the buyer’s agent that you hire is a seller’s agent as well. He or she might have a “hot house” they can sell you that you will get “first dibs” on.

7. Now, let’s say you find a home that you like. Check to make sure all the interior doors of the home close without rubbing on the door frames. This is an indication of foundation issues. Sometimes people will get deceptive and “sand down” the top portion of the door that rubs on the frame. So just because doors might close ok, there could still be foundation issues. Definitely go and look in the basement. Look for cracks in the wall. Look for signs of water leakage. Look for major cracking of the basement floor. Any of these issues could mean bad news. If the basement has a “dingey” feel or a moldy smell to it, stay away from the house.

8. Take note if the home’s interior is “up to date” and that the owners keep it cleaned and well maintained. If it appears like the owners have neglected the home’s maintenance, then that always means that they’ve neglected everything in the home. Problems that won’t present themselves until later.

9. Definitely take a look at the home’s exterior. Check to make sure none of the window sills are rotted. Check for any wood rot around the exterior of the home. Also find out how old the roof is.

10. Do not make an offer on a home without a seller’s disclosure. By law, the sellers are to fill out a form called a disclosure to answer questions about the home and leave this in plain view of the buyer when they are looking at the home. Read the disclosure. It will give answers to questions such as how old the roof is, whether or not they have foundation issues, termite issues, rodents, or any other problems with the house that even might affect the home insurance premiums. For instance, a home that I had bought had two layers of roofing on it. The first layer was never removed when the second new roof was put on. It was done this way because it was “cheaper”, but insurance companies will charge a slightly higher premium because it will cost more to replace the roof if the roof is ever damaged. It takes more labor to remove two roof layers than one.

11. Only take seller’s disclosures with a grain of salt. People do lie, or sugar-coat things to try and sell the house. Once you’ve decided to make an offer on the house, have a home inspection done. Make the offer on the house contingent upon that the home inspection comes out clean. You will have to hire a home inspector to do this. They typically charge $250 – $450 for an inspection. Do not ever use an inspector that the realestate agent recommends. These inspectors will be working for the interest of the agent, and not yours. However, that doesn’t mean that the inspector that you found on your own still won’t be working for the interest of the realestate agent anyways. He might want to have that realestate agent use his name for recommendations. Home inspectors are like everyone else. They are in the business to make money and get their name out there.

12. If you are able, walk around with the inspector while he is inspecting the home. He will point things out to you. Do NOT let the realestate agent distract you during this time. The agent will be present also while the inspector is performing the inspection. After the inspection, review the report. If something minor needs fixing, then have a new contract offer written up to have whatever issues were found corrected. If any major issues were found, such as foundation issues, termites, etc., then avoid the house. Better to have paid an inspector $ if it means saving you from buying a money-pit house.

13. Lastly, if you had an inspection, and something major turns up, but you still really really like the house and you don’t want to walk away from it, then just about anything can be fixed these days. Even major foundation issues can be fixed in this day and age. You can re-adjust your offer to include in the price that the seller pay for those issues to be fixed. Or, either reduce your offer drastically and then have extra money escrowed or take out a home equity line of credit and have the issue repaired. Also, upon putting down an offer, ask your realestate agent for a market comp. A market comp is a report of final selling prices of homes in the area that you are buying. You can compare the prices with the home’s price that you are looking at. It will give you an idea if the home is being priced appropriately. And do check out the county’s appraisal of the home as well. If a house is in tip-top shape and has had some remodeling and updating done over the years, then typically it might go for $15K – $20K over county appraisal. All too many times home owners will try and get dollar for dollar return on their improvements. This is a no-no. Home owners should not expect dollar for dollar return on improvements. At most, maybe a 60% return. But usually only about a 25% return. Depends on how hot the market is. The situation you do not want to walk into is to pay full price for a home, (county appraisal and above), and then find out that you have to shell out more $ to make repairs. The most important thing, is to educate yourself on homes or to at least have someone that you know such as a parent, friend, or relative that is knowledgeable about homes go home-shopping with you. You can’t fully count on the realestate agent nor the inspector to ensure that what you buy is within your best interest. I urge everyone to go buy a good book on home buying and read it before buying that first home. Or even second home for that matter. Too much “bamboozling” going on these days.

Scottsdale Real Estate Market

Be Sociable, Share!
Categories : Buying

Leave a Reply

*

BUY A HOUSE

If you are thinking about Buying a Home, and this is your first home or you have purchased several properties, we are here to provide Information that every home buyer should know, before you look at the first home! Scottsdale AZ Homes For Sale

HOME SELLING

Thinking about Selling your home, if this is your First sale, or you have sold several properties before, we are here to help you by provide Information that every home seller needs to know before you decide to sell your home! Az Realty Results

REAL ESTATE INVESTING

Thinking about Investing in Real Estate? If this is your first property or you have made several purchases, we are here to help you by providing Information that every real estate investor needs to know before you decide to start your investing! Az Realty Results