Author Topic: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?  (Read 12429 times)

CarrieWillard

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What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« on: July 30, 2016, 02:26:57 PM »
My intro is here: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/say-hi-and-introduce-yourself/msg1171044/#msg1171044

This is just my second post. I've dug around and searched for a "home buying for dummies" post and can't find one, so here goes.

Hubby and I and our brood of 7 are going to be buying our first home in a few months. You can try to talk me out of it, but I am pretty certain it's the right move for our situation because:

- We are ONLY doing a 15 year fixed and will sock extra money at the mortgage to pay it off earlier
- We are putting 20% down to avoid PMI
- Housing costs total will be less than 25% of monthly take home
- We are minimalists and are intentionally underbuying - no McMansions thanks
- We will likely never need to relocate - hubby's business won't need to ever move and I work online (location independent), we have bioDad to visit and I also have elderly parents who will need care
- Houses in metro Atlanta are cheap and the taxes in the county we're looking at are low
- We are homeschool lifers and don't care about the school system
- Did I mention 7 kids? It's very hard to find a willing renter in the first place, and the stress of constantly worrying about every little ding the kids put in the walls is too much. If it's our own home, we can live with it or repaint.
- As a stepfamily we have a psychological need to establish a "home" base
- Kids want to be able to decorate/paint how they want etc
- Hubby's biz has a super high profit margin as does mine, so we pay a buttload of taxes even with all the dependents. We wrote a check to the government for $21K last April.

So.

What do you wish someone had told you about buying your first home? Is there a must-read book you can recommend?

Some obvious things you don't need to say (to save your time).

1) don't get emotionally attached until you move in
2) the bigger down payment the better
3) have an emergency fund for repairs since you won't be relying on a landlord
4) have the home inspected by a professional
5) ask about energy costs, don't want a house that's too inefficient
6) visit all times of day, get to know neighbors
7) location, location, location

What else?

This feels big, scary and very grown up so thanks in advance for any advice.

CW
« Last Edit: July 30, 2016, 02:30:07 PM by CarrieWillard »

Jim2001

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2016, 02:59:01 PM »
Your list looks pretty solid. I have also found it useful to have some cash set aside, not for emergencies, but for decorating to make it feel like Our Home.  Usually the typical things like paint, carpet and some basic landscaping.

I'm curious to hear where you end up.

Beardog

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2016, 03:16:23 PM »
In two weeks, I will close on my first single family house bought as a single person after looking since Dec. 2015.  Yeah !!!

I was looking in multiple cities and prepared spreadsheets listing the amenities that were important to me for each city, i.e. taxes, population density, museums, public transportation, etc. 

I found it very useful to look at city databases of property values, both to see maps of the property lines, zoning, and types of properties in the area, as well as looking at sales history for the house of interest and those nearby.  When I was looking at a house in an area in which I thought crime might be an issue, I googled the names of the neighbors adjacent to the house I was interested in.   I found that one neighbor had been aquitted of murder and because of the circumstances of that case, I decided to look elsewhere. 

I previously owned a condo, and when I moved in to that property, I found that none of the lights worked in the living room and that many of the replacement windows had been installed improperly and were very difficult/impossible to shut tightly.  From that experience, in every house that I have seriously contemplated buying, I test everything I can think of.  Although home inspectors are great, I take alot of initiative during the home inspection and even make up a list of things to look at for each room in advance of the home inspection. 

Follow the home inspector around during the inspection like a puppy and ask lots of questions.  You will learn alot that will be helpful to you when you own your home.  For example, the house I'm buying has a new heating system and there's a red box above the system that turns off the electricity during a fire.  I learned what the red box was by asking the home inspector during the home inspection.  The home inspectors I've worked with welcome your interest in what they are doing.

Maybe this goes without saying, but Google streetview is your best friend for seeing what the neighborhood looks like.  You can often get some great views of the property of interest.  Also, Google Earth can give you a sense of how much greenery there is in the area, if that's important to you.  And Google Maps can show you what kinds of businesses, etc. are in the area. 

Lastly, as part of your Purchase and Sale agreement, you can ask the seller for any warrantees, equipment specificiations, installation records and documentation they have in their possession regarding appliances, and work that has been done (i.e. radon mitigation system, sump pump, etc.).  This can also be very helpful to you when you become the home owner.

Good luck with your search !

Choices

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2016, 05:04:06 PM »
It looks like you've done your homework!

You've probably already thought of this, but if you can swing the extra payment, keep renting for a few weeks after closing so you'll have time to thoroughly clean your new house and to paint or repair as needed. It will be so much harder to get anything done with all your stuff in the way.

justajane

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2016, 06:31:05 PM »
This is going to make me look like an idiot, but we honestly didn't notice the huge dead trees at the back of our large lot. In our defense, it was winter. Anyway, so far, we've spent around 3K on tree removal. The 80 ft. elm that gave us all our shade in the afternoon sadly has to go after half of it fell in a storm. That's going to cost us another grand this month. Ruh roh.

I don't know what the moral is, other than care for your trees, notice them, and prepare some day to have to pay lots of money to remove them. But they are wonderful. I don't regret buying this house, but shit, tree removal is expensive and not really DIY. 

So, in essence, I wish someone had told me to pay attention to the yard and the outside of the house as well. Seriously not even on our radar.

lifejoy

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2016, 11:09:25 PM »
Thank you for starting this thread, OP! I'm probably buying in two years and want to start researching now :)

ambimammular

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2016, 11:56:27 PM »
Think about all seasons, how will this driveway/sidewalk/parking be in the snow/rain? Will leaves and gutters be a problem?
Think about storage, coming from an apartment, some things didn't occur to us.
Life changes: will this house work as you age, narrow doorways, room for wheelchairs, too many stairs?
Will you add to your family, widowed parent move in, college age kids move out?
Double check what will stay with the property, I was surprised they took the hanging porch swing with them.
They also didn't re-stretch the upstairs carpet as they said they would. And left 30 cans of paint in the garage.

How long will you be in the area? I knew a family that was only here for a two year stint, who was stuck with their house for an additional 2 years after they left. Real estate doesn't move quickly in a small town.

Best of luck!!

CarrieWillard

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2016, 05:44:08 AM »
All I can say is, Wow! You guys have brought up things I would never have thought of. Thanks so much and keep it coming please!


justajane

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2016, 06:51:29 AM »
Life changes: will this house work as you age, narrow doorways, room for wheelchairs, too many stairs?

I see your point here, but I'm not sure I agree. If I'm in my twenties or early thirties, this would be low on my list, mainly because it would severely limit my ability to live in a walkable inner ring suburb. My parents moved to my city a few years ago understandably looking for the things you list above, since they are already in their mid-seventies. The closest house they could find was in an entirely different part of the city from us about twenty minutes away.

I guess what I'm saying is, if the house met my requirements for the next 30-40 years, I wouldn't rule it out just because the doorway to the bathroom wouldn't accommodate a wheelchair.

Another thing that never occurred to me is the potential for flooding. In other words, don't buy at the bottom of a hill or the bottom of a steep driveway. Seek houses higher up, though preferably not one with a lawn that is a pain in the ass to mow due to the slope.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2016, 07:36:57 AM by justajane »

mrteacher

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2016, 07:22:40 AM »
Life changes: will this house work as you age, narrow doorways, room for wheelchairs, too many stairs?

I see your point here, but I'm not sure I agree. If I'm in my twenties or early thirties, this would be low on my list, mainly because it would severely limit my ability to live in a walkable inner ring suburb where I live. My parents moved to my city a few years ago understandably looking for the things you list above, since they are already in their mid-seventies. The closest house they could find was in an entirely different part of the city from us about twenty minutes away.

I guess what I'm saying is, if the house met my requirements for the next 30-40 years, I wouldn't rule it out just because the doorway to the bathroom wouldn't accommodate a wheelchair.

Another thing that never occurred to me is the potential for flooding. In other words, don't buy at the bottom of a hill or the bottom of a steep driveway. Seek houses higher up, though preferably not one with a lawn that is a pain in the ass to mow due to the slope.

Agreed. I am in my mid-20s and renting, but when I imagine that it is nearly impossible to find 'The House' that will accommodate every change to your family over the course of 50-60 years!

undercover

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2016, 07:31:37 AM »
I think you have a pretty good list of things to look out for. I'd add that you should also go through the home yourself after the inspector and find things that he may miss. Home inspections aren't perfect and most of them are trying to get it done as fast as possible. When you get paid by the job, as they do, what incentive do they have to stay longer than they "need" to?

I've definitely found some things since buying a house that I feel like the inspector should've noted had they actually took the time to go through everything. Some were minor, some were not. Regardless, it's best to know everything before making such a hefty decision.

justajane

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2016, 07:35:02 AM »
I've definitely found some things since buying a house that I feel like the inspector should've noted had they actually took the time to go through everything. Some were minor, some were not. Regardless, it's best to know everything before making such a hefty decision.

Agreed. This was a funny one from a few weeks ago. My MIL bought the house across the street from us, and we've been overseeing most of the transition. Well, the inspector didn't catch that there was no hot water in the shower! Pretty funny and sad in hindsight. Thankfully the fix was super-easy -- just an adjustment to the handle, but what if it had been something much more involved? So, yes, be sure that hot water comes out of each and every shower and faucet - lol.

justajane

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2016, 07:40:58 AM »
Life changes: will this house work as you age, narrow doorways, room for wheelchairs, too many stairs?

I see your point here, but I'm not sure I agree. If I'm in my twenties or early thirties, this would be low on my list, mainly because it would severely limit my ability to live in a walkable inner ring suburb where I live. My parents moved to my city a few years ago understandably looking for the things you list above, since they are already in their mid-seventies. The closest house they could find was in an entirely different part of the city from us about twenty minutes away.

I guess what I'm saying is, if the house met my requirements for the next 30-40 years, I wouldn't rule it out just because the doorway to the bathroom wouldn't accommodate a wheelchair.

Another thing that never occurred to me is the potential for flooding. In other words, don't buy at the bottom of a hill or the bottom of a steep driveway. Seek houses higher up, though preferably not one with a lawn that is a pain in the ass to mow due to the slope.

Agreed. I am in my mid-20s and renting, but when I imagine that it is nearly impossible to find 'The House' that will accommodate every change to your family over the course of 50-60 years!

Yeah, I don't think it's a awful thing to take into account, but I don't know. When I'm 70, I can see the value of a garage that connects directly to the house for bad weather. But now, I love the fact that I live in a more urban neighbor in which we all go into our houses via the front door. This means we know our neighbors much better than, say, in my parents neighborhood. Garages with house access are terrible for community building, even if they might be desirable as you age. And ranch houses take up so much more space than multi-floored houses, which is better for urban planning. 

munchabunch

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2016, 07:48:14 AM »
Oh, this is a good one!  Granted, we've only had a home for just over a year, but we had a few surprises.

There will be something unexpected that requires $$.  It might be pests (no one told us about the ants!!), it might be a dead tree, it might be that the installed dishwasher or laundry or whatever "runs" but doesn't "work".  In less than a year, we've had ants, over a dozen mice (thank you, kitties!), the dishwasher didn't work, the garage springs snapped, found a small leak in the bathroom vent (!  thankfully "only" $350 to repair), the previous owners either took or lost the remote control for the ceiling fan, so it didn't work and had to be rewired, the inlet tube for the dishwasher cracked, and the fridge sprung a leak for the ice dispenser.  I think we're over $1k in random tools, repairs, etc. so far, which really isn't bad, but wasn't what I expected!

Other thing that I learned - buy the good paint.  Don't cheap out.  Good paint looks better, is easier to apply, and you can actually take a sponge to it and wash it! Whoa!  The cheap paint that sprayed everywhere when rolling the wall, including in your hair and all over your skin, ugggh.  Just no.

SwordGuy

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2016, 08:48:17 AM »
Well, for starters, make sure the tub in the bathroom isn't shared by the other bathroom.    Or at least know that BEFORE you buy.

(Ask me how I know.)

When you are looking for houses, you are looking for houses that you want to move into.  You are looking for all the things that are right with it.

Once you decide on one, it's now time to look for all the things that are wrong with it.   Sounds obvious, but it's an important mindset that will color what you see and what you do not.   Look at each section of wall, ceiling and floor, inside and out, in about 5' square increments.   Look for flaws.  Broken tiles.  Bows and sags.  Discolorations.  Changes in texture that indicate a patch. Rusted stuff.    Make it a game to find as many flaws as you can.  Most won't matter.  Some really will.

Walk the property line.   Walk over the entire yard.  Look at it critically just as you did in the home.  Look for anomalies and make sure you know why that part of the yard is strangely wet, or sunken in.  Or that there are broken off fence poles with jagged edges sticking up an inch above ground.

Look for news reports about your street.   We learned about flash flooding problems in the street near one property. Yikes!

Check your state's sex offender registry.  A should-have-been-hung-by-the-neck-until-dead rapist or pedophile may be living next door.   Some areas have crime reports plotted on a map.  Check it out.   Then, before you panic, check the areas you think are safe for comparison.

Hope that all helps!
« Last Edit: August 03, 2016, 08:57:01 AM by SwordGuy »

Beardog

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2016, 08:53:07 AM »
There will be something unexpected that requires $$. 

This is a gem.  Even though I've done my due dilligence as best I can, I expect there will be things I missed and I've put money aside to deal with that.

CarrieWillard

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2016, 09:38:33 AM »
"Check your state's sex offender registry.  A should-have-been-hung-by-the-neck-until-dead rapist or pedophile may be living next door.  "

With 7 kids, YES. I had almost forgotten about that!

TheStachery

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2016, 09:53:17 AM »
Visit the property at different times of the day.  Our cul-de-sac, looks quite a bit different at night when everyone is home.  Our neighbors have three huge trucks that park in the street.  Not much I can do about it, but at least I would have known.  Also, check out the street lighting.  My buddy once had a condo that when you looked out the window during the day was great, at night, the street light blasted into the room.  They kept the curtains closed most of the time.  Take a walk in the neighborhood, see a person working on their lawn?  Compliment them on it, then ask what they think of the neighborhood, association, etc...

Choices

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2016, 12:28:15 PM »
Think about all seasons, how will this driveway/sidewalk/parking be in the snow/rain? Will leaves and gutters be a problem?
Think about storage, coming from an apartment, some things didn't occur to us.
Life changes: will this house work as you age, narrow doorways, room for wheelchairs, too many stairs?
Will you add to your family, widowed parent move in, college age kids move out?
Double check what will stay with the property, I was surprised they took the hanging porch swing with them.
They also didn't re-stretch the upstairs carpet as they said they would. And left 30 cans of paint in the garage.

How long will you be in the area? I knew a family that was only here for a two year stint, who was stuck with their house for an additional 2 years after they left. Real estate doesn't move quickly in a small town.

Best of luck!!


Even if you're not planning to stay for 50 years, having a bedroom and bathroom on the main floor is a lifesaver when there are injuries (Stairs are a beast with a broken arm and a broken leg. Car accidents can happen to anyone). It's also really nice when Mom or Grandma wants to visit.

Also, if the previous owners had pets, look a little closer at everything. Cleaning the carpet can make stains disappear, but they usually reappear after a few months. People also sometimes cover stains with furniture, so if a chair looks like it's in a weird place check underneath it. You might be able to negotiate a discount for new flooring.

If you have pets, then having a bathtub downstairs is helpful in containing messes too.

MrsDinero

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2016, 01:16:23 PM »
A lot of people talked about location and storage, I cannot stress how important it is.  For location think about what the neighborhood looks like at different parts of the day but also how you are pla ning to use it.

An example is the house Mr. D and I live is, is perfect for us.  It has all the storage, eventual living on 1 floor, acres etc.  The ONLY thing I hate about it, is we live at the top of a ridiculously steep hill.  I love to just go for a nice walk with the baby but pushing the stroller up or down the hill is a nightmare!  So a lot of times I will decide against an evening walk because I don't want to battle the hill.

The other thing is storage.  We don't have a lot of stuff but I like to make sure all the storage is in the right place.  A closet off the bathroom and bedrooms, closets near each entry way, etc.  We once rented a place that had 1 closet.  That was it 1 closet for all clothes, mops, brooms, anything you might want to store in a closet.  There were some built in shelves in the bedrooms but no closets. 

slowsynapse

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2016, 01:24:28 PM »
I see on house hunters (from HGTV) all the time where people prioritize a feature in a house that they will rarely use.  So I would say, don't pay a large amount of money to get a feature in a home that is for one party a year.

Also, with interest rates where they are now, I have seen many in these forums that would question the wisdom tying up as much cash as possible into a down payment.  I think the goal is to not have PMI insurance but there are many forums discussing principal pay down versus leaving the money invested.  Best of luck in finding your new home.

PS.  I might pay for cable tv that has HGTV, please don't mention that here :)

Miss Piggy

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2016, 01:27:35 PM »
Plan on the house being a money pit (and a time suck). The expenses never end. The projects never end.

waltworks

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2016, 02:33:57 PM »
Even if you homeschool, good schools in the neighborhood are indicators of 2 important things:
-Resale value of the home will be better, in general, if you decide you want to move.
-The kids in your neighborhood are going to be your children's friends, even if they don't go to school together (unless you're very, very antisocial as a family for some reason). Neighborhoods with better schools = neighborhoods with kids who will stay up late with your kids eating healthy snacks, playing chess, and watching Dr. Who instead of doing drugs and smashing windows (I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea).

Buying in the cheapest neighborhood you can find may be pennywise and pound foolish for a variety of reasons. That doesn't mean you need a giant mansion in Beverly Hills, but it does mean the "we don't care about the schools" thing is probably a counterproductive way to look at it.

-W

CarrieWillard

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2016, 04:13:21 PM »
W I agree, "good schools" is code for low crime. The area we are moving to has a very low crime rate for our state. That was one of my most important considerations.

CarrieWillard

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2016, 04:15:53 PM »
"So I would say, don't pay a large amount of money to get a feature in a home that is for one party a year."

Great point. For this reason we have already decided that we do not want a fireplace, a deck that we have to worry about kids falling off of, a huge yard. A smallish yard just big enough for kids to run around out back is plenty. We also don't want a formal dining room. I believe in buying a house in which every square inch is used.

Choices

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #25 on: July 31, 2016, 08:59:31 PM »
For garage storage, you can always install over-the-door racks like these. They're fabulous! (And yes, I painted my garage so I'd smile every time I drove in.)

Larsg

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2016, 11:58:09 PM »
Here are some hard lessons we learned from buyers remorse for first house:

- I would not recommend ever buying into a development - the HOE fees will go one way over a lifetime and that is up. The communities can also act like big government with politics, arguments over freedoms, lots of complainers if you have kids that like to be kids, and so on.
-Get a fly over map if you are near a military base so that you don't wind up in a location that has Growler Training night and day or even if you live near an airport, you don't want to be under the odd flight - e.g. International Flights that leave at 3:00AM ever day.
- Pull out the refrigerator - they are all on wheels now days so look for current or past leaks on the floor yourself, the inspector will not do it. If there has been a leak, ask that it be repaired, flooring and all as you never know what is underneath that old leak.
-Make them pump the septic if it's not hooked up to the city, even if it passes a full inspection
- Have the well water tested - if not hooked up to the city
- Stay away from corner lots, no matter how much the realtor tells you that nothing can ever be built next to it - trust me, it can.
- Get an RE attorney, no matter how much the realtor tells you "we don't do that around here." Biggest mistake we ever made was not using one and then now we use one all the time and they are fantastic. They keep things moving along, ensure that everyone is accountable and can research what things like "easements," wetlands, mineral rights, etc. really mean. They are inexpensive compared to the headache they can save you in the end. We use one on both ends, buying and selling.
- Be honest about your ability to maintain things like a wrap around deck or porch, outbuildings, or that beautiful pond or high maintenance landscaped flower garden that was someone's past time full time.
- Look out for open lots near the house you want to purchase. It makes no difference if they are small, filled with nature, look like no one would ever build there, they will. Don't tell yourself you can live with a little construction noise, especially if you work from home. On Zillow, there is an option to click on a map and then click the birds eye view, then zoom out so that you can look all around the house you want to purchase. We have avoided a couple of investment properties because we saw that the land behind the house that was priced at a rate too good to be true, was all clear cut so we assumed and then confirmed that they were building right bend the house we wanted to purchase
- Get some space between you and the people next to you because you can never control who moves next door and one bad apple can bring down the entire hood.

Good luck!



CarrieWillard

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #27 on: August 01, 2016, 06:07:35 AM »
Once again, thanks so much to everyone who posted! Great stuff here. :-)

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2016, 07:41:39 AM »
Keep at least $20,000 in reserve when you go to buy to take care of the disaster you realize you have two months in to owning it.

MishMash

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2016, 08:32:11 AM »
I'll add one not addressed so far, check the county GIS for permits.  We looked at a house that had a ton of work done to it, some good, some not so good and they were charging a premium for it being "updated".  Checked the county GIS system and looked under permits and NOT ONE thing that had been done was permitted.  Talked to the county and was told if we purchased the house we'd be on the hook for potentially 10's of thousands of dollars to get the work permitted and up to code, or we had to rip it all out.

Choices

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2016, 09:51:26 AM »
If your kids are still really small or if you have pets, ask the neighbors about wildlife. You can see coyotes almost anywhere in our city, but our neighborhood also has javelina, owls, and bobcats. We get endless joy from watching them, but they have gotten a few of our neighbors' pets.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2016, 09:59:14 AM »
If your kids are still really small or if you have pets, ask the neighbors about wildlife. You can see coyotes almost anywhere in our city, but our neighborhood also has javelina, owls, and bobcats. We get endless joy from watching them, but they have gotten a few of our neighbors' pets.

I loved seeing the deer in my backyard in my former house, but I got Lyme disease after a weekend of work in the backyard. That sucked - you have to go on antibiotic horse pills for a month - so when we moved one of our criteria was trying to avoid neighborhoods where deer would be on the property. Not so easy in Pennsylvania.

Ensign1999

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2016, 01:04:19 PM »
Even if you homeschool, good schools in the neighborhood are indicators of 2 important things:
-Resale value of the home will be better, in general, if you decide you want to move.
-The kids in your neighborhood are going to be your children's friends, even if they don't go to school together (unless you're very, very antisocial as a family for some reason). Neighborhoods with better schools = neighborhoods with kids who will stay up late with your kids eating healthy snacks, playing chess, and watching Dr. Who instead of doing drugs and smashing windows (I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea).

Buying in the cheapest neighborhood you can find may be pennywise and pound foolish for a variety of reasons. That doesn't mean you need a giant mansion in Beverly Hills, but it does mean the "we don't care about the schools" thing is probably a counterproductive way to look at it.

-W

I'll second this one.  While the schools might not be of high importance to you, they are to the parents of the kids in your potential neighborhood.  Since you have the luxury of not having to worry about a commute, then I would keep in mind living near other things that matter to your families enjoyment, and this could include a large pool of friends for your kids.  We lucked out and didn't consider this on our latest purchase, but would have paid more if we knew that our section of the neighborhood turns into a playground in the evenings and the summer full of kids (and parents that like to socialize).
-How many other kids are in the area (drive by the local school bus stop in the morning or at night and see how many kids are there, or walking to school).  A few years ago our bus stop was empty and now there are sometimes as many as 20 kids there.  Even if you homeschool, having friends outside of your family will be important.
-How far away from planned activities.  We are a family of swimmers and having access to a community pool was a factor.  This could be replaced with a library, gym, etc.  But living where you work and play makes sense to me so you aren't constantly commuting to things.
-Having a lot of kids and keeping to a small house (and yard) would make me want to ensure the neighborhood is quiet and safe.  We moved from a busy street that we couldn't let the kids out the front door to a very quiet neighborhood where the kids play out front and ride bikes in the streets all the time.



dpfromva

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #33 on: August 01, 2016, 01:07:29 PM »
1. Brick doesn't need to be painted.
2. If you're the kind a person who wants a purple front door, or just likes to do what they want to do without checking in with anyone (this might be a semi-Mustachian trait?) avoid properties with a Homeowners Association.
3. You can fix ugly finishes. You can change a house's footprint but it will be expensive. You can't fix location. 
4. Another vote for downstairs bed/bath or capability of adding easily, especially given your long-term plans and elders in the family.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #34 on: August 01, 2016, 01:27:23 PM »
Following to see how many mistakes we made ;) We're closing on our house tomorrow!

I will say, a weird but big consideration for us: we've been living in a big city in a very noisy area- under flight paths, on an ambulance route on a main road, etc. I literally can't accurately gauge background noise now, but I know I want less of it. I took my mom out to one property we were considering, and she pointed out how LOUD it was from the interstate ~1mi away. After she mentioned it, my brain snapped to and could identify the noises. So I guess my advice is find your own weak spots in assessing a place, and get someone who doesn't have those- if you can't smell worth a damn, bring someone who can tell you that it smells like cats and mold. Ironically,by the way, we ended up buying something *closer* to the road that the other property, but there is a big sound barrier on the side we're buying on. Makes a huge difference.

LiveLean

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #35 on: August 01, 2016, 02:05:18 PM »
'Tis better to buy a shack on the water than a bigger home inland.

In 1999, we could have bought a dated, smaller waterfront home here in the Tampa Bay area but we didn't want to deal with remodeling. Instead we bought a bigger, 3-year-old home 1/2 mile from the water. We've ended up remodeling most of it, too, and have too much space/headache upkeep.

MishMash

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2016, 06:38:47 AM »
'Tis better to buy a shack on the water than a bigger home inland.

In 1999, we could have bought a dated, smaller waterfront home here in the Tampa Bay area but we didn't want to deal with remodeling. Instead we bought a bigger, 3-year-old home 1/2 mile from the water. We've ended up remodeling most of it, too, and have too much space/headache upkeep.

Totally going to derail here for a second, my apologies.

LiveLean, we may be moving to the tampa area next year (military SURPRISE this past week, we were supposed to have several more years at our current location).  What can you tell me of the area like bad areas to avoid etc.  Housing is still quite a bit cheaper down there so we are tossing up paying cash for a place.  A lot of military people are recommending FishHawk Ranch but my concern is the HOA and the CCD fees.  Also, how bad is flood insurance down there?

Landlady

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #37 on: August 02, 2016, 12:35:55 PM »
I wish someone had told me to avoid using a real estate agent. Now that you can use services like Zillow to find a home you don't really need someone to show you around. You can write up offers with an hourly attorney and save the seller 3% which can essentially be passed on to you, the buyer, because you can make a lower offer still compete with higher offers done by agents.

The other thing I lucked out on, but didn't think about for one of my homes was the zoning. I luckily bought a house zoned for multifamily without realizing and have seen property values rise tremendously due to the increasing density in Seattle. So I'd suggest figuring out what the desirable zoning is or where zoning may change and let that help you with your location decision as well. It's not paramount, it's just a small factor that could end up helping you profit if you need to sell.

iris lily

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #38 on: August 02, 2016, 12:47:36 PM »
1. Brick doesn't need to be painted.
2. If you're the kind a person who wants a purple front door, or just likes to do what they want to do without checking in with anyone (this might be a semi-Mustachian trait?) avoid properties with a Homeowners Association.
3. You can fix ugly finishes. You can change a house's footprint but it will be expensive. You can't fix location. 
4. Another vote for downstairs bed/bath or capability of adding easily, especially given your long-term plans and elders in the family.

What? Painted brick?

Painting masonry around here is a low class solution to tuckpointing.

I spent  $$$ to get paint off the facade of my tiny Victorian house, a pox n the painters.

BlueHouse

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #39 on: August 02, 2016, 02:41:42 PM »
Good luck with the move and also with your blended HUGE family.  I grew up in a blended family with 5 + 3 kids.  We never really merged (there were no "ours" kids), and there were problems from the start that indicated a low chance at success, but I did learn a bit about living with so many people. 

I suggest a book on Feng Shui.  I don't believe all the things about "energy flow", but most of what they tell you is good luck is really just good planning for other reasons. 

A front door that opens directly into a bathroom - it's not bad because your Qi flows out through the crapier, it's just gross!  and with 7 kids, I promise they will NOT shut the door when they're done!

I'd avoid an open-floor plan house with so many people.  You need spaces where people can get some privacy and quiet while others are playing.

Look for good traffic flow between spaces.  With so many kids, you don't want them tripping over each other to get to the door.  A kitchen with only one entrance is going to be a trap.  keep everyone moving and everyone will stay happy. 

I like windows to face a certain direction because I like a lot of natural light.  My house faces East and West.  Unfortunately, I wish the morning sun came into my kitchen and the afternoon sun came into my LR.  I could have had that just by buying the same house on the next street over. 

Think about the HVAC and what room will be the hottest/coldest by the duct design.  Then make sure your bedroom is in the temp scale you like.  My bedroom is the coldest due to the AC location and I like to sleep in the cold.  The guest room is the most uncomfortable (too hot in summer and too cold in winter), which I think is just right for limiting visitors. 

Overhead electrical lines are not good aesthetically, and can be dangerous and noisy. 

Don't have the kitchen sink in the center island or penninsula.  It's messy and too noisy to talk while doing dishes anyway. 

Don't even think about a formal entry-way.  Just make it into a mud-room from the beginning, put lots of hooks on the wall, and then make the house fit the family rather than the other way around.  (we didn't live like animals, but we had a back hallway that was always full of shoes, jackets, books, etc.) 








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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #40 on: August 02, 2016, 02:51:17 PM »
I wish I had bought a house that was more updated even if it cost a little more.  Rolling that extra cost into a low APR mortgage would have been a lot easier than the stress of DIY and cash-flowing small jobs here and there that my family is doing.  (I thought I liked DIYing things, but that was before I had kids!)

Le Poisson

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #41 on: August 02, 2016, 02:54:06 PM »
I haven't read all the responses, but for me the biggest hurdle has been the differences between what each partner wants to get out of the house. The number of decisions and petty differences that come with maintenance, repairs, and renos are a big thing to keep in mind. Those differences will appear on the $$ and emotional tally sheets one way or another.

ender

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #42 on: August 02, 2016, 07:07:16 PM »
I wish someone had told me to avoid using a real estate agent. Now that you can use services like Zillow to find a home you don't really need someone to show you around. You can write up offers with an hourly attorney and save the seller 3% which can essentially be passed on to you, the buyer, because you can make a lower offer still compete with higher offers done by agents.

Or at least, interview your agent. Don't just go pick the first one you find - your realtor is going to be helping/guiding/advising you in one of the largest purchases/sales you make!

Don't just go to a realty office and pick the first person you meet for such a decision.

CarrieWillard

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #43 on: August 03, 2016, 05:52:22 AM »
Good luck with the move and also with your blended HUGE family. 

Look for good traffic flow between spaces.  With so many kids, you don't want them tripping over each other to get to the door.  A kitchen with only one entrance is going to be a trap.  keep everyone moving and everyone will stay happy. 

I like windows to face a certain direction because I like a lot of natural light.  My house faces East and West.  Unfortunately, I wish the morning sun came into my kitchen and the afternoon sun came into my LR.  I could have had that just by buying the same house on the next street over. 


Don't even think about a formal entry-way.  Just make it into a mud-room from the beginning, put lots of hooks on the wall, and then make the house fit the family rather than the other way around.  (we didn't live like animals, but we had a back hallway that was always full of shoes, jackets, books, etc.)

Haha yes, great ideas! A large family has its own special considerations. You're so right. I don't have or want "formal" anything. LOL!

Carless

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #44 on: August 03, 2016, 08:40:05 AM »
Here's what I learned from going through 30 houses looking for the right one.

Check the basement first.  When you walk in, just go down there.  Watermarks?  Rotted wood? Bugs (or a zillion spiders which must be eating something)?  Turn around and walk back out.  You can see everything that's been done wrong to a house down there.  You can get an idea of how well the work was done too from the pipes.  Are they run neatly?  Insulated? Leaking?  I saw one house where the copper pipe was some sort of...reverse pyramid junction in the middle?  You know that's what's in the walls is going to be a nightmare if that's what's visible.

Is the wiring neat or haphazard?  Marettes?  Free floating lightbulbs?  That's a sign that someone cut corners/ didn't know what they were doing.

Worth checking too - are there cutoffs to water under the sinks and behind the washing machine?  Unless you ask for this specifically a lot of developers or plumbers will cut their costs by skipping it, which tells you there may be other places they cut costs too which aren't evident.

Trimatty471

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #45 on: August 03, 2016, 12:41:18 PM »
You do not buy a "starter" home.  Make sure that you get what you want, because there may be obstacles down the road preventing you from selling.

If you are not a fixer upper person, do not purchase a fixer.

Location, Location, Location:
Visit the house during the day and night to get a feel for the surroundings.
Ask yourself, do you want a long commute?
If you like the quiet life, do not move among families ((important!!!))

Trimatty471

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #46 on: August 03, 2016, 12:53:51 PM »
Oh, this is a good one!  Granted, we've only had a home for just over a year, but we had a few surprises.

There will be something unexpected that requires $$.  It might be pests (no one told us about the ants!!), it might be a dead tree, it might be that the installed dishwasher or laundry or whatever "runs" but doesn't "work".  In less than a year, we've had ants, over a dozen mice (thank you, kitties!), the dishwasher didn't work, the garage springs snapped, found a small leak in the bathroom vent (!  thankfully "only" $350 to repair), the previous owners either took or lost the remote control for the ceiling fan, so it didn't work and had to be rewired, the inlet tube for the dishwasher cracked, and the fridge sprung a leak for the ice dispenser.  I think we're over $1k in random tools, repairs, etc. so far, which really isn't bad, but wasn't what I expected!

Other thing that I learned - buy the good paint.  Don't cheap out.  Good paint looks better, is easier to apply, and you can actually take a sponge to it and wash it! Whoa!  The cheap paint that sprayed everywhere when rolling the wall, including in your hair and all over your skin, ugggh.  Just no.

The biggest surprises I've found:

-Some of the outlets did not work.  Had to hire an electrician.
-Bedroom window would not stay up.  And because I did not know the manufacturer, I could not replace the part.  So, after many years, I finally gave up and decided to shell a couple thousand on new windows.  Called Emerald Windows for a quote.  The salesman referred me to this company, Del Val Rehab, which repairs old windows.  They were able to fix it for $85.00.  I am so grateful.
-Subterranean Termites.  These appeared after having 4 years.  Scared the mess out of me.  Terminix came and drilled holes outside and filled them with pesticides.  I haven't seen them since.  And as far as I know, there was no damage.
-Needed to replace the interior door frame that was covered by aluminum siding.   It was dry rotted underneath.  I need to replace  some more.

Trimatty471

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #47 on: August 03, 2016, 12:56:12 PM »
Oh, this is a good one!  Granted, we've only had a home for just over a year, but we had a few surprises.

There will be something unexpected that requires $$.  It might be pests (no one told us about the ants!!), it might be a dead tree, it might be that the installed dishwasher or laundry or whatever "runs" but doesn't "work".  In less than a year, we've had ants, over a dozen mice (thank you, kitties!), the dishwasher didn't work, the garage springs snapped, found a small leak in the bathroom vent (!  thankfully "only" $350 to repair), the previous owners either took or lost the remote control for the ceiling fan, so it didn't work and had to be rewired, the inlet tube for the dishwasher cracked, and the fridge sprung a leak for the ice dispenser.  I think we're over $1k in random tools, repairs, etc. so far, which really isn't bad, but wasn't what I expected!

Other thing that I learned - buy the good paint.  Don't cheap out.  Good paint looks better, is easier to apply, and you can actually take a sponge to it and wash it! Whoa!  The cheap paint that sprayed everywhere when rolling the wall, including in your hair and all over your skin, ugggh.  Just no.

The remote for the ceiling fan/light does not work for the light.  In order to get it to work, I need to replace the whole unit.  I just use the fan and have a lamp on my night table.

HappyHoya

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #48 on: August 04, 2016, 05:31:03 AM »
It looks like you've done your homework!

You've probably already thought of this, but if you can swing the extra payment, keep renting for a few weeks after closing so you'll have time to thoroughly clean your new house and to paint or repair as needed. It will be so much harder to get anything done with all your stuff in the way.

Not to take this off topic, but how big of a place does it need to be to need several weeks to clean and paint?! That seems absurd to me and like a huge unnecessary luxury. Had a few days of overlap which was great, and did a very thorough cleaning in a weekend. Depending on the size of your place, you can absolutely DIY. I guess it depends on what your rent cost, but for us an extra months rent would have been a lot of money, even compared to the cost to get a whole crew to help us clean and paint for a few days, if necessary. If you're worried about painting in the future and moving from a smaller to a larger place, just don't fill it up right away and you can move your stuff out of one room and into another very easily.

ender

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #49 on: August 04, 2016, 07:04:40 AM »
It looks like you've done your homework!

You've probably already thought of this, but if you can swing the extra payment, keep renting for a few weeks after closing so you'll have time to thoroughly clean your new house and to paint or repair as needed. It will be so much harder to get anything done with all your stuff in the way.

Not to take this off topic, but how big of a place does it need to be to need several weeks to clean and paint?! That seems absurd to me and like a huge unnecessary luxury. Had a few days of overlap which was great, and did a very thorough cleaning in a weekend. Depending on the size of your place, you can absolutely DIY. I guess it depends on what your rent cost, but for us an extra months rent would have been a lot of money, even compared to the cost to get a whole crew to help us clean and paint for a few days, if necessary. If you're worried about painting in the future and moving from a smaller to a larger place, just don't fill it up right away and you can move your stuff out of one room and into another very easily.

When we moved into our place we deep cleaned and it took a while - cleaning carpets, washing down walls, cleaning cabinets, cleaning blinds, washing windows, etc.

That's time consuming even for a small place.