When I started looking at houses to buy after getting tired of renting, I had no idea how it was supposed to work. What does a realtor do, exactly? Who do I have to pay? What do I look for?
There were so many unknowns, but luckily I had quite a bit of help along the way. So here are the 5 major things I learned.
1. ASK QUESTIONS! Ask the realtor, ask the inspector, ask the finance manager, ask the real estate lawyer, ask the neighbors, ASK EVERYTHING! This was the biggest help overall. My house had well water and oil heat, two things I had never experienced before. Asking questions not only improves your knowledge, but it also gives you more information to make an informed decision. For example, I pay nothing for my water because I have well water. However, if I have to re-drill my well in a few years, that’s a few thousand dollar expense, and something you have to consider when buying.
2. Houses are like beautiful women; don’t fall in love too quick, and there’s always another one around the corner….haha. In all seriousness, look around you. There are so many houses all around and bouncing on and off the market everyday, don’t lose yourself over the one that got away.
3. Evaluate potential! A house, whether your starter or forever home, is an investment. Be realistic when looking at a “fixer-upper” and lay out the costs it will take to upgrade whatever areas. My bathroom is outdated, and I planned the cost of a new one when making the offer on the house. But when I do eventually sell my house, it will be up to date because of the slow but sure project list I have amassed.
4. Be prepared to shell some money out of pocket. Yes, there is a down payment, but there are also closing costs, which can be anywhere from 2-8 percent of your house’s sale price. There are also inspections for everything: water, termites, radon, nuclear capabilities etc. All of these inspections cost money, and depending on your house and your budget, this can be a factor. Also, after purchasing your place, you’re going to need to buy a lot of miscellaneous things, like shower curtains, a weed-whacker, silverware etc…..which all adds up quickly.
5. Lastly, bring a trusted set of eyes with you, and make sure they know you well. I brought my parents along when I looked at some houses. This was for two reasons: first, being that they have a lot more experience buying real estate than I did, and secondly, they know me. One of my strengths is seeing the potential in anything. However, I needed to be realistic when buying, so it was good to have a trusted set of eyes for a second opinion.
All in all it was a great experience, and something very feasible for most. You never know what you can afford and what kick-ass loans are out there until you ask the questions and do your research.