(Closed) Tips for buying a house!

posted 3 years ago in Home
Post # 2
Member
881 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2006

sparklesbelle :  

Buy a house which is at least 10K less than the amount you have been preapproved for. This will keep you from being house poor. 

Your mortgage is only one expense. When you’re looking at your budget, factor in the cost of utilities and property taxes as well. 

Unless you are very handy, it makes sense to buy a home which does not require too many renovations or repairs as they can get expensive. Aim for houses which are 15 years old or less. 

Make sure that you have an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.

Do not get too caught up in bidding wars. If you lose out on a house, there will be more so don’t overbid based on emotions. 

Think about what your needs are in a home vs your wants. 

Buy a home that you can see yourself living in for at least five years to get a return on your investment. 

When you are looking at houses, think about your future needs as well as your present situation. For example, if you don’t want to move again and you want to have 3 children, it wouldn’t make sense to look at 3 bedroom homes unless you want 2 of your future children to share a room.

Pools are expensive to maintain. Be careful of houses with pools for this reason. 

Location is extremely important. Buy the worst house in the best neighbourhood you can afford if it comes to that. 

Post # 3
Member
8467 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

sparklesbelle :  first double check that your bank uses prequalified interchangeably with preapproved – many don’t and a prequal will be worthless if you get in a multiple offer situation.

Also don’t trust what the bank will lend you – do your own math on what you can afford because they don’t care if you are house poor. Start by looking at houses on the low end and then work your way up to your max budget if you have to. 

Besides the finances divide your wish list between “must have” and “would like to have”. For example location and a 3 bed house was on our must have list. Wants included a garage, big yard, recently renovated, 2 bathrooms, etc. We sacrificed many of our wants for the PERFECT location and are slowly making the house into what we want. 

Post # 4
Member
47253 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Decide if this is your forever home or a starter home.

If it is a starter home, buy what will sell when you are ready to move on.

If it is a forever home, make a spreadsheet;

must haves-number of bedrooms, type and state of kitchen, bathrooms, garage- whatever is important to you

nice to haves- in ground sprinkler system, main floor laundry etc

and

must not haves- corner lot, meth house next door etc

Number the houses on your spreadsheet, leave space for the address, and take pictures. It’s so easy to get mixed up and forget which house had the kitchen you liked. Tick off the boxes for must-haves, nice to haves when you are touring houses.

Post # 5
Member
8467 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

mrswhitecat :  15 years as a max house age?! That made me laugh – depending on location that is literally impossible. If you found a house in my town that was built in the 1970s that would be considered new. The rest of use were built in the 1800s. 

Post # 6
Member
3752 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

I agree with the PPs tips but also wanted to add a few things. Make a list of must haves and “would be nice” amenities. If this is a starter home, don’t get caught up in needing a big house just to have one. Those big houses also have to be furnished which is expensive. I’d also recommend driving by the areas you’re thinking about after a rain storm. This may not apply to you, but some areas are much lower than others and you won’t notice it unless you’ve driven by after a rainstorm. Check out the drainage in the yards around. 

Post # 7
Member
733 posts
Busy bee

15 years or newer? That’s such odd advice. Many times you get features in older homes that you would never get today. Our home is about 30 years old and we have 20 foot wood beam ceilings in almost every room, plus arches, cornices, nooks, and almost every bathroom and wetbar is covered in marble. You’d never find that kind of stuff in newer houses.

Bathrooms and kitchens are the most expensive things to remodel, so make sure you like the bathrooms and kitchens.

Try to decide on what you like in a floorplan. For instance, after many years of living with open floorplans I decided I absolutely hate having a kitching in the family room. We have a closed off kitchen and I love it. You can change a lot of the decor, but floorplans are hard to change.

Spend some time just sitting outside and listening. You may find out that there is airplane noise, or barking dogs, or so on that you can’t stand.

If you buy in to an HOA, be sure you know exactly what you are getting in to. Personally, I am anti-HOA but many people love them. You just have to decide what you like.

Pay attention to commute. After all you have to live with it for a long time.

If you’re going to be selling in the next 10 years, buy with an eye to what will sell easily.

If you live somewhere with a hard winter, think about the drive to and from the house in the winter. We bought a house that we loved with an amazing view, but damn, it was almost impossible to get to in the winter. Oops.

 

Post # 8
Member
1634 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2016

If you are in a competitive market, get pre-approved, as opposed to pre-qualified. Ask important questions about their mortgage process, such as how fast they are able to get you from pre-approved to closing if you are in a hot market.

Consider the location carefully. Drive past the house at rush house- see if it is a commuter cut through. Go at night. Go in the morning. Walk the neighborhood- are people friendly? Are people out walking? What are the schools like? You can change many things about a house- you cannot, however, change the location.

Ignore the decor. I, know! That is easier said than done. The fact is, if they’ve painted the living room with bubble gum stripes, it is an eyesore that will take longer to sell- that works in your favor! Try to look at structure and layout. Paint is cheap and you can do it yourself- look for the big ticket items- bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen updates, square footage, yard space, etc.

If you are in an area that does not require home insepctions, do it anyway!!!!!!!!! They are required where I live- never, ever skip the home inspection. Make sure you are present with the inspector. They should check major structures (roof, heating, etc.), but should also check outlets, water pressure, etc.)- ask lots of questions.

The motrgage  company does not know what you can afford. You often qualify for an amount based upon the idea that your salary will increase regularly. If you are in a profession that this does not occur, keep that in mind. While your mortgage amount is a fixed expense, your home owners insurance and texes are not. Thus, your mortgage will go up some each year, due to those escrowed expenses- just keep that in mind. Having a house is great; being house poor is not!

I bought my house just as the market was going up where I live. The number of available houses in our area had dropped to almost non-existent, coupled with write-ups in several national publications as a great, year-round beach community, so lack of houses plus becoming a more desireable area equaled price increases. Houses were selling with multiple offers before they ever made the listing services. I nearly stalked a guy who stuck a for sale by owner sign in his yard and then went surfing out of the country for six weeks- I called daily and saw the house the day he returned. We closed thirty days later. The home inspector looked at the house and told me it was really well-made, but that the people in it were distgusting. But, he said, they will be gone when you buy it! He said that once it was cleaned (he suggested a hire professionals- it was that bad!) and painted and had some new flooring that it would be great. He was right! I’ve done things little by little (and, we had some problems at the closing), but it was a great deal for me (I otherwise could not have purchased in this area). A word of caution, though, house prices here continued to go up and up and up! While my house value has doubled, many people here cannot sell for the wildly inflated price they paid at purchase. Know your market. If you buy too high, you need to be prepared to stay in that house or sell at a loss later. Know what you can really afford and know your market.

Also, if all other things are generally equal between two homes, but one has something like an additional bathroom, go for the additional bathroom- even if you like the layout of the other house or decor of the other house more. You can change decor- adding a bathroom is hard/expensive.

Good luck!

Post # 9
Member
4820 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

sparklesbelle :  I suggest not looking at photos to start – instead, make a list of all the things you want in a home.  First, a list of necessities.  Then a list of what you’d like.  Then a bonus list of goodies.

Refine your search and then look at homes.  Best of luck to you!!  🙂

Post # 10
Member
881 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2006

LilliV :   punkybrewster :  

While you may find features in older houses that are unique, the point is that older houses will often require far more repairs which can be costly. 

I suppose I am speaking from the viewpoint of someone who lives in a newer area. Just because you do not agree with my advice, it doesn’t mean that my words are stupid or odd. 

Post # 11
Member
881 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2006

FutureMrsBex :  

I agree with this. Our house is quite small and it doesn’t have all the amenities we want. 

However, it is enough space and we don’t plan on staying here forever. 

Post # 12
Member
8467 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

mrswhitecat :  Plenty of newer homes are full of problems because they aren’t as well made as older ones.  That’s why an inspection is important no matter what the age of the house. I would personally take a well maintained house built in 1869 over a 2013 builders grade house any day of the week. 

Post # 13
Member
2680 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

mrswhitecat :  while I agree with your sentiments about being careful not to be house poor, 10k is a drop in the bucket over the life of most mortgages. It really depends on the overall purchase price for a $100k house $10k would be a 10% difference. For a $1million house $10k would be completely irrelevant. It’s better to look at monthly payments- mortgage, taxes, HOA, utilities, etc to set a budget and see what you are comfortable with. 

Post # 14
Member
222 posts
Helper bee

I agree with mrswhitecat on everything except for the brand new house thing.  Having a newer house *is* easier because the construction and appliances are all going to be relatively new, and you won’t have to think about things like lead paint or asbestos flooring if you decide to take on a renovation project at some point.   But, that’s not always feasible. (Most of houses in my neighborhood were built from the 1880s – 1920s.). If you decide to go for a historic home, just take into consideration when more expensive things (like the roof, Windows/doors and major appliances) have been updated. 

Also, beware of any houses that smell moldy, mildewy or hardcore like cat pee…they smell hat way for a reason. 

Floor plan is definitely a big thing to consider.  Even if you’re only looking for a home for one or two people, try to look for one that won’t feel congested when a lot of people are there…you’ll thank yourself if you ever decide to throw a party or host a holiday at your place.  I know two people who have a ~1,000 sqft house, and one seems soooooo much bigger than the other just because of how the rooms are laid out. 

Also, a good realtor won’t try to pressure you into picking a house you don’t really love. 

Good luck!  

Post # 15
Member
3752 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

Adding on to the comments about the floor plan. Our current house has our master bedroom right off of the kitchen. I hate it! If one of us gets up early then it wakes up the other because no matter how quiet you try to be while getting coffee mugs or cereal bowls down from the cabinet, it’s always ridiculously loud. It’s just a little issue but something I wish I’d thought about. 

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