6 Tips for Buyers When House Hunting
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Sunday, March 8th, 2020, at 7:00 PM we got a call from our realtor that a house we had been eyeing was back on the market. The relative of the selling agent could meet us at the property if we could make it there within the next 30 minutes. We quickly piled all the kids in the car and rushed to make it. We toured the house with flashlights because there were no utilities at the home. Another buyer was actually supposed to close on the home that past Friday, but the deal fell through at the last minute. This was the third home that we had toured in this neighborhood, so needless to say we liked the area.
We had been looking for a house since August 2018 and during that time we probably had gone on a few dozen home tours of new construction and resale homes. We went as far as putting down money to reserve a lot for a new build, but we decided to walk away from that home due to contractual disagreements. After much disappointment, riding the emotional roller-coaster of house hunting, prayer, negotiation, inspections, social distancing, quotes, Shelter In Place order, sending and resending documents to the bank, and waiting; we closed on April 9th.
Now, this isn't our first time at the home buying/renovation rodeo, this was our third home purchase and second renovation. Our first home in Michigan was a smaller home at 1,270 square feet and was built in the 1960s. Our second home was a new build town-home in Maryland at a little less than 2,300 square feet. Since we had that home built there were very few updates that we made after moving in. Our new home is a little over 3,400 square feet and was built in the late 1990s with a good amount of updates needed.
*Disclaimer, I am by no means an expert on the subject matter of building, selling, or renovating homes. I am just a regular person that watches a lot of HGTV and loves DIY projects. The following is information that I picked up during my personal experiences that might be helpful to the average buyer in the home buying process.
1. Tour, Tour, and Re-tour
Tour the house as many times as you need to. You might see something you didn't see the first couple of times you walked through.
When we were touring homes there are a few things that I would do that may seem unconventional, but it was helpful in narrowing down homes for us.
Check your phone reception while in the house and in the neighborhood. There is nothing worse than not being able to use your cell phone in your own house.
If you are buying a resale home, check under the kitchen sink. Leaks with the kitchen sink and garbage disposals are common. This was my go-to move for checking to see if there were plumbing issues that might have caused water damage that was never addressed.
Check for cracks in the porch or siding. These cracks can be telltale signs of foundational issues.
Visit the area and neighborhood at all times of the day. The overall vibe of an area can fluctuate dramatically during certain times a day. If the crazies come out between the hours that you are mostly home, you might want to consider that.
2. Don't Be Distracted By The Upgrades (New Construction Homes)
Many times buyers get caught up in the glitz and glamour of the model home upgrades and totally miss the craftsmanship of the build. If the craftsmanship of the model home is poor, nine times out of ten the craftsmanship of your home will be also.
Look past the upgrades of the model home and ask to see a base or spec home that they already have built. This will give you more of an idea of what your actual home will look like if you choose to go with that builder.
3. Do Your Due Diligence
This is the "Trust but verify" stage. Trust and believe that the realtor is trying to sell you this home. Verify that everything that they are telling you to sell this home, is actually true. If they say the neighborhood/home is assigned to a certain school district, call the school and verify. If they say that something has been fixed have your own contractor or vendor come in to verify this. Check the sex offender registry for the area. Check to see how far it is to your favorite pizza spot or restaurant. Whatever is important to you, that will give you the most peace with living in this home and/or area, verify it.
For resale homes, get as many inspections as you feel necessary. I say this because some home inspections are not that great or they somehow miss big things. I highly recommend that in addition to a home inspection that you get specific inspections for big-ticket items like electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and roofing.
4. Read, Read, and Have Representation