There is lots of advice out there for first time home buyers, much of it very good, but also rather similar from video to video and blog post to blog post. There are some tips that all too often get left out though, and if you are working with an agent who does not feel the need – or maybe even have the knowledge – to discuss certain issues with you, you could end up getting burned. Here’s a look at some we think are particularly important.
Look at ALL the Expenses
Every first time home buyer should head into the process with a fairly firm budget in mind and it should ideally be a formal one. However, when you are drawing up such a budget you shouldn’t stop with principal, interest, taxes and insurance; add in utilities, the cost of commuting to work or school, and any upgrades you might need to make.
To help make your figures more accurate, call the utility companies that service the house you are considering and ask for an estimate of what the costs will be, whether there are any budget plans or special deals available. Scout out the gas prices in the neighbourhood if you drive a lot and helps if you also take the time to check out how expensive the local stores are, and maybe even the average pricing of the restaurant and entertainment options in the area if such things are important to you.
Think Long Term and Think Resale
Are you currently a childless couple but you are planning to have kids a little further down the road? Is there a possibility that at some point in the future you will be taking care of elderly relatives? Scenarios like these often mean that first time home buyers actually only live in that home for a few years. So it’s a good idea to look at long term as you house hunt. Who would be your ‘target audience’ when it comes time to sell the house? For example, if you buy a house on a very busy street, when you are ready to sell most families with young children will be out of your list of potential buyers.
Ask for the Status Certificate or Condo Contract Before You Make a Decision
You might love the house, but will you love the rules that govern condo board attached to it? If you are considering purchasing such a property it’s essential that you (or your lawyer) read through the status certificate before you make a final decision. Why? Well here’s just one example. What if there ever came a time that you wanted to rent out your home? Many status certificates and condo boards don’t actually allow that, but that information is stuck down there in the fine print of the contract, often along with a few other rules that you may find just won’t suit you.
Look Beyond the Staging
Every home seller is advised to stage their home and for very good reason; it works. Staged homes look far better than houses that have simply been ‘cleaned up’. But sometimes staging can be a little deceptive, leading to disappointments. For example, let’s say a bedroom has some great nightstands in it, with some attractive lamps on top. It looks great and so handy. But, in reality, they are dummies and there are actually no plug points anywhere near them. How disappointing might that be?
When you are considering any house, try to remove the staging in your mind. Pay attention to the layout of the house and the structure itself, as should you choose to buy the place you’ll almost certainly furnish and decorate it very differently anyway.