Author Topic: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?  (Read 12110 times)

Le Poisson

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #50 on: August 04, 2016, 07:18:47 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.

You guys need to adopt the tribe mentality for this. A half dozen Pizzas and a few friends can git'er done in a night.

MrsDinero

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #51 on: August 04, 2016, 07:50:22 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.

There are a lot of "it depends" when it comes to answering this question.  My husband and I bought a pretty large house (2400 sqft) and it took us almost 6 weeks to scrub and paint it.  We could have gotten it done in a shorter time period except with both of working 40-50 hours a week + business travel + packing up our rental + plus the house was FILTHY, the move in prep took longer than we wanted.  We ended up hiring a painter (who was slow but thorough) because we were running out of time. 

For an example of how dirty the house was, it took me over an hour to scrub off all the dirt and grime from one of the bathtubs.   That didn't include the walls, floors, and other areas, that was just ONE bathtub. 

We could have taken vacation time to get the house done, but we were both saving it for maternity/paternity leave. I should find the before and after pictures.  I'm pretty sure the previous owners didn't clean the entire time they were living there.

There are a lot of reasons why it can take a while to move in.

BlueHouse

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #52 on: August 04, 2016, 08:04:36 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.
I also recommend an overlap so that all items on the punch list are completed BEFORE you close on the sale.  You'll never have that kind of leverage again, so don't settle for less than what's been negotiated just because you've cut your timing too close.

Choices

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #53 on: August 04, 2016, 08:24:05 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.

I also mentioned repairs. Sometimes you'll need to replace flooring or drywall, shim doors, fix leaks, rewire something, add lighting, epoxy a garage floor, fix banisters, replace windows or cabinets, etc. It is a luxury to have the time to do this before the house gets filled with kids and furniture, but it can make the experience much more pleasant and safe.

robartsd

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #54 on: August 04, 2016, 08:52:42 AM »
The value of a real estate agent to a buyer depends on the market. For a first time buyer, a good agent would likely point out many of things pointed out on this thread. I agree that online listings make it easy to find properties to consider (my agent recommended Redfin over Zillow due to it being much better at being up-to-date with MLS); however, your agent is also another set of eyes and has experience in the market. Our agent's team certainly earned their fee based on the high level of service they provided even though we were shopping near the low end of the price range for our region. The market was pretty hot in our low price range; I imagine it would have been difficult to view many of the properties we visited if we weren't working with a seller's agent. If you know your market well enough and can get the access you need from the seller's team then an agent is not needed. I don't like the perverse incentives that abound in a real estate transaction (including the buyer's agent's compensation being a percentage of the price).

For us, most of the overlap between closing on the house and closing out our rental was due to wanting to be sure that we would be going through with the purchase before giving notice to our landlord. With houses generally closing a little over one month from accepted offer we would have to give notice as soon as we had an accepted offer to keep the overlap to a few days. The time taken to do inspections and negotiate adjustments based on the inspections automatically added over a week of overlap. We didn't mind overlap much as our rent was really pretty low (had not increased in 5 years and we felt is was pretty good when we moved in).

Kroaler

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #55 on: August 05, 2016, 09:51:56 AM »
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.)

I didnt even read the rest of the thread, but I think my world has been forever changed for the better now! lol.... I had no idea such a thing existed, not had I ever thought about it....

kenaces

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #56 on: August 05, 2016, 10:20:56 AM »
Consider that you may want to someday sell the house you are considering buying, and depending on lots of variables this can be very easy/quick or very slow.  I had a bit of bad luck with a house that took me 3 years to sell.  Perfectly fine starter home that I sold 3 times and first 2 sales fell apart last minute when bank pulled financing last minute.  I was unlucky but it is worth remembering real estate ins't a super liquid asset.

I would also suggest walking the area, and talking to as many neighbors as you can both during the day and evening.

Beardog

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #57 on: August 05, 2016, 02:52:54 PM »
The value of a real estate agent to a buyer depends on the market. For a first time buyer, a good agent would likely point out many of things pointed out on this thread. I agree that online listings make it easy to find properties to consider (my agent recommended Redfin over Zillow due to it being much better at being up-to-date with MLS); however, your agent is also another set of eyes and has experience in the market. Our agent's team certainly earned their fee based on the high level of service they provided even though we were shopping near the low end of the price range for our region. The market was pretty hot in our low price range; I imagine it would have been difficult to view many of the properties we visited if we weren't working with a seller's agent. If you know your market well enough and can get the access you need from the seller's team then an agent is not needed. I don't like the perverse incentives that abound in a real estate transaction (including the buyer's agent's compensation being a percentage of the price).

Here's another vote for the value of real estate agents, even for experienced buyers.  Buying a house can be very stressful and is normally something done very infrequently.  To work with someone who is in the real estate business day in and day out can be enormously helpful and I believe they earn their money.  I'm glad I used a real estate agent to both sell my condo, and to buy a house.

ender

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #58 on: August 05, 2016, 03:30:00 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.)

I didnt even read the rest of the thread, but I think my world has been forever changed for the better now! lol.... I had no idea such a thing existed, not had I ever thought about it....

We have these, too.

They are hanging from the roof rafters so you see a visibly wavy roof from the front! Bonus perks!

CarrieWillard

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #59 on: August 07, 2016, 06:06:28 AM »
Once again, thanks so much to everyone who took the time to respond. I appreciate it so much, and all these replies are going into Evernote.

With This Herring

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #60 on: August 07, 2016, 10:53:07 AM »
None of my experiences, but based on stories from my parents and the internet:

  • The seller may tell you where the property boundaries are.  Make sure you have the property surveyed or look at an official map of property lines.  For my parents' house, the end of the backyard is about ten feet further in than they were told.
  • Do not buy a house that is at the top of a T intersection (so that it stares down the vertical of the T).  It may not have happened yet, but someday a drunk driver will go careening down that T vertical in the dark, fail to turn left or right, and plow into the house.  Also, headlights of those coming up the T will shine right in your windows.  These same issues can occur with a house on the outside of a curve.
  • Similarly, if you have a corner lot, people will drive over the corner and leave tire tracks in your yard unless you put up small rocks or have a fence.

There are a lot of "it depends" when it comes to answering this question.  My husband and I bought a pretty large house (2400 sqft) and it took us almost 6 weeks to scrub and paint it.  We could have gotten it done in a shorter time period except with both of working 40-50 hours a week + business travel + packing up our rental + plus the house was FILTHY, the move in prep took longer than we wanted.  We ended up hiring a painter (who was slow but thorough) because we were running out of time. 

For an example of how dirty the house was, it took me over an hour to scrub off all the dirt and grime from one of the bathtubs.   That didn't include the walls, floors, and other areas, that was just ONE bathtub. 

We could have taken vacation time to get the house done, but we were both saving it for maternity/paternity leave. I should find the before and after pictures.  I'm pretty sure the previous owners didn't clean the entire time they were living there.

There are a lot of reasons why it can take a while to move in.

I would like to see those photos!

dpfromva

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #61 on: August 08, 2016, 01:27:28 PM »
 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.
[/quote]

Haha -- what I meant was buy a brick house, not wood or vinyl siding. Hardiplank fans, anyone? Is it comparable to brick for longevity?

Carless

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #62 on: August 09, 2016, 09:42:03 AM »
...Similarly, if you have a corner lot, people will drive over the corner and leave tire tracks in your yard unless you put up small rocks or have a fence.


My parents back onto a laneway which travels around two sides of the property.  The garage is at this corner, and was frequently clipped by trucks going around the corner and damaged.  Dad put up some heavy gauge angle iron on the garage corner...and suddenly everyone's driving improved!

sobezen

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #63 on: August 09, 2016, 01:35:34 PM »
- Leverage a realtor who can skillfully negotiate on your behalf.  I cannot emphasize this enough, not all realtors are created equal.  However, it is my experience that a skilled realtor will not only help you successfully negotiate, they will navigate the buying/selling process, they can help connect you to qualified buyers (often all cash) and sellers (pocket listings).  The average client has limited understanding, experience, or time/patience to deal the time sensitive complexities involved in real estate transactions.  The margin of error is small and one incomplete, incorrect, or missing form will delay an offer, something you cannot afford in our current highly competitive market.
- Buy an apartment or duplex complex instead of a home.   Many rental income possibilities (TIC and condo version too).  This will probably be my next purchase.
- Look for ways to generate passive income even a primary.  I ended up renting out two of three rooms which worked out well.  Obviously not for everyone but if you can, the passive income accelerates your FIRE timeline and sharing space will make you re-evaluate how much space you really need to be happy.
- Understand the crime stats and trends in the community and city.  Visit and interview the local police department they are happy to share.
- Check registered sex offenders in your city and drill down to neighborhoods.
- Examine if your property is on or along any fault lines.  In CA we have many and most cities will be impacted in the next major earthquake.
- Do not rely strictly on the 3R report/disclosure package for potential damage to properties.  Turn on all pipes if shut, test sprinklers, examine windows/doors carefully for settling and foundation damage.  This is especially critical if your property is slanted and you may incur additional costs to repair damages.  For example, my property had a cracked cast iron pipe buried deep under the front law.  Never discovered it until a 10k bill was required to replace the non-visible damage.  Again test everything and be careful when it comes to existing trees, their roots can damage your foundation and wreck havoc on your plumbing/pipes/sidewalk/driveway.
- Clearly understand where are the property lines especially if there is no fence dividing the properties.
- Be mindful of electrical towers and power lines in your backyard and neighborhood.
- Build more storage racks and secured shelving in the garage before you move in.
- Add additional insulation around windows, attic, garage, etc and especially in bedrooms before you move in.
- Pay for a surveyor before you start any tear down or expansion projects.  And on a related note, make sure you get a good architect who has a successful relationship with the local planning department.

You have a very unique situation with so many family members so you will have to be flexible with your want to haves and essential must haves.  I feel cosmetic renovation projects are often not worth considering, unless they bring a significant return on investment at a future sale.  Since you've indicated your family will not move for over a decade you have time to pace any projects. 
« Last Edit: August 09, 2016, 01:38:52 PM by sobezen »

CheapskateWife

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #64 on: August 09, 2016, 02:01:16 PM »
Just because a slab or accessory building is on the property when you bought it doesn't mean that the previous owner observed the proper local codes and got a building permit.  Next time I buy a house, I'm pulling the historical permits.

We bought the house with a 40x50 slab that was built to accommodate a Mueller Metal Building...husband fell in love of course and we made the offer.  After the sale is complete, we go to the city to get a building permit and it turns out the slab was never approved, no drawings filed, so we'll have to get an engineer to come out and certify it.  That's when we discovered that it was built on top the septic leech field.

Le Poisson

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #65 on: August 09, 2016, 04:18:21 PM »
You have a very unique situation with so many family members so you will have to be flexible with your want to haves and essential must haves.  I feel cosmetic renovation projects are often not worth considering, unless they bring a significant return on investment at a future sale.  Since you've indicated your family will not move for over a decade you have time to pace any projects.

Expanding on this - do no invasive projects for a year unless absolutely necessary. In that first year you will learn what really is a priority, and maybe those countertops can wait after all since the windows leak like a sieve.

BlueHouse

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #66 on: August 11, 2016, 04:57:24 AM »
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.

Haha -- what I meant was buy a brick house, not wood or vinyl siding. Hardiplank fans, anyone? Is it comparable to brick for longevity?
[/quote]r

As for painted brick - my house was built using paint-grade bricks. Ugly mismatch colors, and too porous to not be painted. Didn't even know that was a thing until I saw the bricks go up. I did know my house was going to be painted blue though. That was the design and it's been written into the HOA so I have to keep it forever.

LivlongnProsper

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #67 on: August 11, 2016, 11:36:05 PM »
Do a search for hazardous waste sites near the house especially if you would be on a well. The EPA and states maintain information on places such as old gas stations or former wrecking yards where the soil is poisoned. Also look to see what kinds of businesses are located nearby, you might be leary of chemical or manufacturing companies. Some counties have really good sites that will show you accurate boundaries and any documents that have been filed relating to the property such as surveys and leins. This is stuff the title search should check but people make mistakes.

Ensign1999

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #68 on: August 12, 2016, 08:58:59 AM »
That was the design and it's been written into the HOA so I have to keep it forever.

That quote made me think of another thing.  HOAs can be good, bad, or both.  It all depends on what is written into the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws.  Also who is on the board and how realistic they are makes a huge difference.  Reasonable CC&Rs that help keep the area looking nice and are applied fairly to all owners by board members that want the best for everyone can be good.  Overly restrictive CC&Rs and board members on power trips can be a nightmare.  I own two houses with HOAs.  Both have good CC&Rs.  In the past one of the boards was horrible and they president took a dislike to one of my tenants and tried everything he could to go after him through trying to fine me.  My current house has a great board and the area is really nice.

As for being stuck with a color....depends on the CC&Rs.  We have a huge HOA and folks can change their houses quite a bit.  You need to decide what you want (color, materials, etc) and run it by an board that meets monthly to get it approved.  My guess is that unless all the houses are blue, then there are more than likely a few different colors to choose from and that you would just need to get it approved before repainting if you ever got tired of your current color.

frugalcoconut

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #69 on: August 20, 2016, 07:55:05 AM »
I didn't see this specifically mentioned so... in addition to viewing the house at different times of day, make sure you check out what happens when it RAINS.  If you can be there *while* it's raining, great.  At the very least, go there to look at the exterior of the property after a good solid rain.  See where the water has pooled.  For example, I don't like it when the bottom of the driveway has standing water ... or maybe it's the sidewalks, or near the mailbox ... or maybe the backyard becomes a super-soggy mud pit ... and if so, how long does it take for everything to dry?

Greenstache

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #70 on: August 20, 2016, 08:33:08 AM »
Lots of good advice about evaluating the actual property.  I like to go for a trial run around the targeted neighborhood in the morning and another day in the evening, just to really get a feel for what things are like.  You learn a lot on foot that you don't notice when you are securely tucked inside a car.

For the financial side of the purchase, it's important to understand the loan process and to shop around to get the best rate, even if you have a pre-qualification letter from just one lender.  Many people are so tied up in the emotional excitement of having finally found THE house that they accept whatever rates are presented to them and fail to realize that a small change in the percentage rate has a huge impact on the total amount they end up paying over time. 

It is also important to evaluate all of the fees charged to really understand if the stated lower rate is actually the cheapest option.  Don't assume that paying points is (or is not) the best deal - evaluate the total costs, including tax implications.  Every lender has their own special blend of fees, so it can be very helpful to sit down and compare the total costs in a spreadsheet to really understand your options.  I've used online lenders (through Zillow) for a number of refinancing transactions, and have always wound up closing on time. 

Double-check all costs at every stage - I've found significant errors in bank calculations as late as the day of closing.  In one case, I was told that the rate I'd been quoted and had been working with for the previous three weeks was not available due to how the property was zoned.  I was able to escalate that issue and prove that I'd been very specific with the zoning information upfront, and the agent just hadn't paid attention - I got the rate that I had been initially promised.  Do not be afraid to push back and ask questions (useful to have documented in writing whenever possible), and recalculate escrow and other prepayment amounts yourself.

adamcollin

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #71 on: August 23, 2016, 04:22:10 AM »
You should have a clear understanding of all the terms and conditions mentioned in the lease.

ManchVegas

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #72 on: August 23, 2016, 10:01:17 AM »
My wife and I bought our forever home 3 years ago in a Boston suburb..... and now we are moving to South Carolina in 2 weeks :). Just pointing out that while you are positive you are staying here, make sure you buy a house that won't be hard to sell if your business/job/life goals/family situation/etc changes down the road. I wish someone had told me about MMM prior to buying this house!

TrMama

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Re: What do you wish someone told you about buying a house?
« Reply #73 on: August 23, 2016, 10:40:11 AM »
When you're deciding on properties, pick 2-3 that you'd be happy to buy. Let your realtor know that there are several you like. Then bid on your first choice. If the seller balks at your offer or becomes difficult in some way, you wont even have to bluff when you tell the seller (via your realtor) that they can either accept this as your final offer, or you will go bid on the other house you like.

Doing it this way also makes the negotiation much less stressful for you because it's harder to become emotionally attached to 3 properties at once.

Never forget that your realtor is really only working for him/herself. Make sure you verify anything they tell you via a 3rd party. I live in a development that backs onto undeveloped land. All the properties on my street have covenants on them, that buyers have to sign at the time of purchase, stating the vacant land will be developed. A shocking number of my neighbours were told by their realtors that the land was park and would never be developed. Clearly, they also didn't read the covenant they signed.

Remember that zoning can be changed. That undeveloped land I mentioned was zoned for single family homes when we signed the covenant. It's since be rezoned for townhouses.