We buy homes based on il­lu­sion, says Mike Holmes


Mike Holmes, fa­mous for call­ing out bad plumb­ing, wood­work­ing and elec­tri­cal work on the HGTV show “Holmes on Homes,” says there are steps home­buy­ers can take to avoid many of those prob­lems.

Holmes has a new show on Fox called “Home Free” (air­ing Wed­nes­days at 9 p.m. EDT.) It’s a com­pe­ti­tion show on which nine cou­ples are chal­lenged each week to re­store a run-down home in At­lanta. They must live on the job site and fol­low Holmes’ no-non­sense in­struc­tion. Cou­ples whose work isn’t up to code are grad­u­ally elim­i­nated, with the sur­prise twist that they are then awarded the home.

Here, Holmes of­fers some ad­vice for peo­ple look­ing to buy a home. The an­swers have been edited for clar­ity and brevity.

As­so­ci­ated Press: What’s the big­gest mis­take peo­ple make when look­ing to buy a home?

Holmes: We buy based on il­lu­sion. We don’t buy with in­tel­li­gence. We trust a real es­tate agent that we don’t even know. More than any­thing, we buy by what we see. ‘Oh my god, it’s got new paint. Look at the curb ap­peal.’ I’m try­ing to im­press on peo­ple that you need to do as much home­work as pos­si­ble. It’s you that gets caught hold­ing the bag. Ed­u­ca­tion is the key to ev­ery­thing. Once you buy that house, it is yours. No­body else’s.

AP: Take me through a typ­i­cal sce­nario of some­one buy­ing a home.

Holmes: Take a cou­ple we’ll call Mary and Joe. They de­cide to buy a house and they get ex­cited, so all of a sud­den their emo­tions change. Mary and Joe start look­ing on the In­ter­net, they start driv­ing around and pick­ing a prop­erty, and then they look for a real es­tate agent. And when they pick the house they want, then they start look­ing for a home in­spec­tor. If you plan on buy­ing a prop­erty, you should look for a real es­tate agent first. Find the best real es­tate agent on the mar­ket. Be­fore you start look­ing at a house, find the best home in­spec­tor there is.

AP: How do you find the right real es­tate agent or home in­spec­tor?

Holmes: Ask, ‘How long have you been in the busi­ness? What ar­eas have you worked in? How many houses have you sold?’ In other words, you start by ask­ing a ton of ques­tions, and you want an­swers. ‘Do you have a list of ref­er­ences?’ Call the ref­er­ences and ask, ‘ Were they good? Were they cour­te­ous? Did you get (taken ad­van­tage of) in any way?’ To a home in­spec­tor, ask, ‘How long have you been in the busi­ness? Did you do con­struc­tion be­fore you did in­spec­tion?’

AP: What’s the big­gest prob­lem in home con­struc­tion to­day?

Holmes: Mold is the No. 1 prob­lem ev­ery­where. You can’t see it, and if you can’t see it, you don’t know what you’re breath­ing in, and I be­lieve it’s the rea­son for the rise of asthma and al­ler­gies.


Pro­fes­sional con­trac­tor Mike Holmes has a new show called ‘Home Free’ air­ing Wed­nes­days on FOX. It’s a com­pe­ti­tion se­ries where nine cou­ples are chal­lenged each week to re­store a run-down home in At­lanta.

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