General chatter - Buying a House




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Alicia87
02-06-2012, 07:48 PM
Soooo....I have decided that I'm ready to buy my first home. I found a home that I like, and am considering beginning the process of trying to buy it :)

Just wondering if anyone had any tips or advice to share, or even just share their experience buying a home? I think it's so exciting :)


Lovely
02-06-2012, 08:14 PM
I found this site to be informative: http://michaelbluejay.com/house/

(The first page makes it sound like a brochure of some kind that you send for. It's not. All the information is right there on the site. The menu is on the right.)

bargoo
02-06-2012, 08:39 PM
When you see a house that you like, do not pay asking price. Make an offer , they may not accept and make a counter offer, then you can decide if you want to accept their counter, etc.This can go on and an until you agree. Be sure and have the house inspected to find any hidden problems that might need repair.Don't let paint colors that you don't like stop you from buying a house you like. Paint is cheap.


MissGuided
02-06-2012, 08:54 PM
I agree with inspecting the home.
Know every last penny you'll be spending [interest rates, taxes, etc].

Italiannie
02-06-2012, 08:54 PM
I'm a real estate agent. Do these things:
1- Meet with a mortgage broker and get pre-qualified or pre-approved.

2- Find a broker to represent you. It will not cost you anything, as the listing agent shares the commission with them. This is the best way to get full representation during a transaction. The listing agent works for the seller. While I think it's fine to work with the listing agent, as a buyer, when it is your first house, you need someone who is working in your best interest. A good agent will help you with the process, advise you on price and negotiate the best deal for you. They will run comps for you, help you find good structural inspectors, and other professionals you need.
Make sure your agent is a full time professional who does business in the general area you are looking, their knowledge will be invaluable.

Ask people that you know who they have used, better yet, ask your mortgage broker if they can recommend someone. They will know the best in the business.

Rules, regulations and customs and process change by state and even county, so you need a local expert.

There's nothing like buying your first house.

Good Luck!

Glory87
02-06-2012, 09:02 PM
Get a GREAT home inspector. Do not use one recomended by the buying or selling agent, get your own inspector (use Angie's List or Yelp to get a highly recommended inspector). Follow him around, ask questions, take notes.

This is hard - do not fall in love with a house. Be ready to walk away if you need to. There will always be more houses.

Get your finances in order. Start getting pay stub information, tax returns, bank statements, clean up any glitches on your credit, be ready to explain any amounts of money going in or going out. You may be shocked and appalled how intrusive the loan process is.

Be ready for something to go horribly awry at the last minute. I have closed on 2 houses (and almost a 3rd) and something went wrong all three times at the 11th hour which was horribly stressful.

If you buy this house - make sure you know where the water shut off is and where the gas shut off is (if applicable). If the water shut off requires any special tool to use, buy it and put it someplace easy to find. We had our pipes burst one night at 4 in the morning, had no idea where the water shut off was, turned out to be by the road (under a foot of snow) and required a special plumber's key to shut off. That was a lousy 2 hours I wouldn't wish on ANYBODY.

Skittlez
02-06-2012, 09:48 PM
Definitely agree with the getting an inspection. The first home my husband and I were seriously interested in had a ton of problems that we weren't looking to get into (leaking pipes and stuff). Even if a house passes inspection there might be problems you find out down the line, but it's so worth it to have a place of your own :)

Vex
02-07-2012, 08:35 AM
Do not overestimate what you can afford! Those mortgage calculators out there that say you can afford 400k on a 30k a year salary are wrong.

If this is your first house, think about how much the mortgage would be alone, then think about other expenses you will have - insurance, taxes, utilities, etc.

Do not even think about getting a variable rate mortgage. (cheaper now for more expensive later) Stay with fixed for your first house.

I know it can be overwhelming and scary, but this is truly a fantastic time to buy a house for most people with interest rates possibly as low as they can possibly be.


.

JudgeDread
02-07-2012, 08:38 AM
Soooo....I have decided that I'm ready to buy my first home. I found a home that I like, and am considering beginning the process of trying to buy it :)

Just wondering if anyone had any tips or advice to share, or even just share their experience buying a home? I think it's so exciting :)
How exciting Congrats!
I got my first house fall of 2010. I actually had it built here because the market is SO cheap. I got a really good interest rate at I beleive it was 4.25..(which makes me mad because now it is LOWER!)

Anyways it is super exciting, and wonderful to have your own place...no wasting money on rent...

Besides you can do what you want to the house! Updates, paint..you name it!

erinrenae80
02-07-2012, 08:53 AM
Buying your first home is very exciting and very scary! I agree with everyone else. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If someone that is working for you (inspector, broker, etc.) and they don't like you asking so many questions, don't be afraid to send them on their way. You need to stand your ground. If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. If you have any family members or friends that have bought a house in the past few years, talk to them. Ask them if whatever is going on happened to them. I will also tell you that home buying experiences can be completely different. I bought my house in March of 2007 and my mom bought her's in September of that year. We had totally different experiences. Don't be surprised if you have buyer's remorse after you sign all the paperwork. It is completely normal and sometimes people forget to warn you about that. I kind of freaked out the week before and after closing. Once I got started on painting and getting things moved in, it was better. Now I absolutely love my house!

mandalinn82
02-07-2012, 11:46 AM
Beyond what everyone else said, don't get attached until you have keys in your hand. PERIOD. Things can ALWAYS go wrong. We had a house that we signed all of the closing paperwork on - then the selling agent realized that he hadn't gotten one piece of paperwork buttoned up, and we lost the house. We were in limbo, with our money in an escrow account, for a month and a half, and when that deal finally fell through we were crushed.

And be prepared to have an emergency repair fund on hand, because you just don't know. Our highly recommended inspector said we had about 5 years of life left on our roof - well, within a year we had a soggy section of wall, a leaking roof, and some mold in our bedroom. This meant the roof had to be replaced immediately at a cost of 11k (not to mention a whole section of moldy wall...ugh). If we hadn't had cash reserves to do that repair immediately, I have no idea what we would have done. Two years later, our AC blows out in the middle of summer (it's 110 here in the summer, so "No AC" usually isn't an option), and it turns out we need to replace our entire furnace...another 5k expense. These things happen, even with proper maintenance and inspections. It was surprising to us how much we spent on repairs to our house that, truly, passed inspection with flying colors for its age.

Also, know how to do basic repairs! If you're not an expert with tools, start practicing and researching. You don't want to have to pay someone to weatherstrip doors, hang a new lighting fixture, or replace a toilet flushing mechanism.

nelie
02-07-2012, 01:30 PM
One thing I've read is to consider your mortgage payment as 80% of the monthly cost of your home. Our washer broke a month after we were in the house, we knew we'd get rid of it soon anyway so it wasn't a big deal.

Then after a year of being in the house, our AC broke buy due to the home inspector, we knew it was at the end of it's life. It broke on the hottest week of summer, on a Friday. It sucked and $6k later we had a new AC/heating system. Then the year following, our neighbors were replacing their roofing so we decided to join in as again our home inspector said we'd need new roofing tiles soon. We also added insulation and replaced our windows. That was another $6k.

Anyway, homes can be very expensive and expenses aren't always seen ahead of time.

Justwant2Bhealthy
02-07-2012, 04:06 PM
1) Go to your bank or lender first, and get PRE-APPROVED for the mortgage BEFORE you start looking; that will save disappointment down the road.

2) Hire a "real estate" lawyer right away, and/or another agent to represent you on your buy (here you have to pay for both); our lawyer protected us on our purchase. DO NOT TRUST A LISTING AGENT, no matter what. Our listing agent deliberately put the closing date on a "civic holiday" (which is illegal here) so she could change it later on; our lawyer dealt with that.

3) Get your lawyer to view all documents before signing anything; our listing agent put a clause in that we would take over as landlords if the tenants didn't move out. I made her change that to a clause that the purchase only goes through if the tenants vacate the house; and that the "seller" is the only landlord. READ ALL DOCUMENTS YOURSELF TOO; every word!

Sadly, we had a bad experience with our listing agent, but a good lawyer can help you deal with them and protect you: in this case, it's money well spent.

4) I found an inspector's list; and used that to inspect the house ourselves as I owned a home before; OR hire one to inspect it for you, but remember that you should check too, becuz some inspectors get it wrong. There are things that were mentioned above that cannot be forseen ahead of time.

5) We also had a furnace expert inspect the furnace; and a qualified electrician inspect the hydro system. Look at the house more than once, if you can; sometimes you miss things the first time.

6) put away extra money with your downpayment, to pay for lawyers fees, agent fees, unpaid/overpaid taxes, *LAND TRANSFER FEES*, and unexpected repairs (ie 5-10 K or even more).*NOTE*: the land transfer fees can be very high, depending on where you live and the location of the house (i.e. on waterfront).

7) always offer less on the house than the asking price; we offered 32,000 K less, and bought it for 25,000 K less. IF you can, find out the "Market Value"of the house -- that is the one the government uses to determine taxes. Then you will see if the asking price is in the right ballpark. We paid only 3,000K more than the MVP -- which was superb.

8) Don't be afraid to buy an older home or one that needs a few minor repairs. Our house is older, but in good shape; and only needed a few minor repairs. Some you can do yourself, or do as you have the funds later on.

9) Make a "needs" and "want" list; and compare them to the house. Our house met every "need" and 98% of the "wants" too (ie location, size, access, yard acreage, storage, etc).

10) If your inspector or you notice that a house you like needs a major repair, like a new roof or furnace, make sure to have or arrange for that money ahead of time with your lender (called a "Line of Credit"). If you can't arrange for that, don't buy that one. Ask how old the roof and furnace are: that should give you an idea if and how soon they will need replacing (to give you time to save that up).

11) PAY OFF ALL DEBTS, before arranging for your mortgage; it's easier to get approved and easier on you. Have more money saved than you expect to ever need.

12) Be clear on what "chattels" come with the house: i.e. lights, fixtures, sheds, appliances, etc ... and make sure every single one is listed in the purchase agreement! Some sellers will even take shelves out of closets.

13) ask to see all the highest bills for the house i.e. the utilities and taxes; get a list of all monthly expenses.

14) Ask a finance specialist at your bank the max you should pay for a house based on your income; and don't even look at any over that amount.

15) Talk to the neighbours if you can; sometimes they know things. Check out what they say, but remember they may be gossiping too. One neighbour told DH that our place used to flood a bit in the spring; but, before we bought it, two new drains and a pump had been installed. We inspected it in the spring and it was dry. We never had any flooding even during rainy seasons.

16) Make sure your insurance company will give you house insurance before you buy it. Just call your agent with the listing info; they can give you a green light ahead of time.

Alki
02-07-2012, 07:38 PM
How exciting!

Well, from my experience:

*after you get pre-approved, DO NOT spend ALL of your budget. This is why so many people lost their homes, they lost their job, and couldn't afford the huge mortgage. You never know what's gonna happen.

*make sure BOTH agents buyer and seller are experienced...check their record! When we bought, the seller's agent failed to mention that the house was in pre-foreclosure...we didn't find this out until the bank refused to sign off on the sale. Our rental house was empty, the moving truck was packed. We ended up having to box up the sellers' belongings and move them out just so we could move in (they had only packed their clothes and a few things).

*as others have said, GET AN INSPECTION...even on 'new construction' the builders are building them in such a rush, things get missed.

*don't fall in love with the first house. Look at LOTS of houses. I thought 10 was a nice number...we looked at 30.

*think about what you want/need: close to schools, close to shopping/market, out in the country/city, cul-de-sac, on the street, parking, garage or not etc...Google Earth is great, you can punch in the address of the house, and get an idea of the neighborhood, how close neighbors/schools/stores are. This saves time on when the listing says 'close to freeway' and when you go look, find out the freeway is on the other side of the backyard fence!

bandit bear
02-09-2012, 01:29 AM
having recently bought a house, you need to set some groundrules for your hunt. here's my advice:

1. Make absolutely positive that it's a nice neighborhood (the most important to us). Walk around, see who is near, and who is also walking around. I remember my husband and I found a nice little house by driving around and when we went to look at it, across the street and two houses down, there was a group of thuggish-looking guys with their pitt bull BBQing in their front lawn. So we politely looked at the home, and that was that. It was a nice house, too. But the neighbors? Heck no! Just make sure the neighbors look nice, and try to look on sunny days when people will be out and about. Also, I don't know if you can find out, but try to find out the number of renters vs owners. The more owners, the better, as some renters can be bad neighbors because they have no obligation to stay and often don't maintain the home as well as an owner living there would.

2. Do not get caught up in silly stuff like the way the countertops look, paint, sinks, imperfections, cabinetry, etc. All of this is vanity stuff and can be fixed very easily. Case in point: Our home was painted a variety of different colors inside. Three bedrooms, two baths. One bedroom had bright kelly green walls with a bright blue ceiling. The second had sky blue walls with the same bright blue ceiling, with a large horizontal purple and green stripe going around the middle of the room. Think 80s gym/sci fi-ish. Our room has two opposite walls painted mint green, and the living room is a nice goldish color. We mistakenly painted the kitchen skyish blue, and now I hate it and want something different.

we've painted everything with the exception of our room.

3. Don't get emotionally connected especially if it's a foreclosure because banks are likely to only accept *higher* offers from investors looking to flip. We found the perfect house, made an offer, only to discover the bank accepted a similar offer but from an investor. It's incredibly frustrating with foreclosures.

4. get an inspection! Pest as well.

5. Don't look at short sales, as they can take MONTHS to close and might not after months.

6. Make exceptions. Our home doesn't have a storage closet, only closets in the bedroom, which I hate. But we have a 3-car garage. My kitchen is tiny, yet can be expanded if we wanted to.

7. If the yard is dying, no big deal. yards are an easy fix. Only think I would avoid are homes with above-ground spas as they would be costly to remove and are generally nasty, unless you're buying from the owner directly and they have maintained it. Plus, they can be expensive. See 8.

8. I would also avoid pools. While it might be tons of fun during summer, they're expensive to maintain. if you have the funds, then go ahead (and definitely put up a fence around it. If a kid breaks into your backyard and drowns or hurts themselves in your pool, you can face a lawsuit).

9. If you live in a heavily rainy area, look while it's raining too. Some homes have awful drainage, and the first house we looked at had this issue. It was raining, and the patio was basically flooded.

9. Have fun!

Sinoia
02-09-2012, 08:00 AM
Check the neighbourhood, visit during day, when kids are at school, afternoon, and evening over a period of time ... at least a week and definitely on weekend days.

The house may be perfect, the yard too, and the facilities and services but if the neighbourhood feeling is not right then nothing else matters

Alicia87
02-09-2012, 04:11 PM
Thanks for all the advice everyone!! I really appreciate it! This is the stuff that I needed to know. :)