INSIDER TIPS FOR BUYING A HOME
Do’s and don’ts for buying a home
Do look at the total cost, not just the purchase price. Maintaining an older home and cooling it may far exceed the value you received for negotiating a good price up front. Check with the local power company or get copies of electric bills. What are the HOA fees, if any, and please examine taxes and insurance.
Don't buy without multiple neighborhood visits. I go at night, early and walk the neighborhood after work. It’s amazing what you can learn from the folks walking their dogs or exercising in the workout room. Also go when it’s raining, if possible, to see what the drainage is like.
Do get a house inspection. I don’t care whether the house is new or 50 years old, get an inspection by a LICENSED HOME INSPECTOR. The most important question: What are you NOT going to inspect? Some will not do air conditioning, septic systems or pools. If not, consider getting your own inspectors for these items.
Don't buy without getting an insurance quote. Florida insurance costs can be high, especially near the water. A current homeowner may show you his insurance bill, but I prefer to get a quote for my homebuyers, including flood and wind. The home may require a four-point inspection in order to be insurable―roof, HVAC, plumbing and electric. Your inspector should be able to get you a four-point inspection and a wind mitigation report. Use these reports to get your insurance quote. Do shop for financing. Think up-front points, as well as interest rates. Yes, money is still cheap, but it is still very worth shopping around. Some lenders absorb up-front points and appraisal fees.
Do buy a home, not a just house. This means looking at the total living experience. Florida is about the sun, the weather and the water. Where does the sun shine in your new windows? What is the view from your living room and kitchen sink? Sit in your new home, immerse yourself in the experience. What does it smell like in the back yard? What can you hear at night? Feel good? Great, you are on the right track. Don't rush into a decision. If you want to write up a contract, make sure you have a suitable time to back out of the deal―a minimum of 15 days―during which you can inspect, immerse and examine. Do look at your alternatives. Once you have made a decision, take a step back and once more look at all the alternatives. For example, if you have settled on an offering price for a property, look at all other options open t o you for that same amount of money.
Do consult an expert, but make your own decisions. There are many professionals out there, and they all have their place: Home inspectors, real estate agents, accountants and lawyers; use them wisely, but remember, at the end of the day, only YOU live with your decision.
At the end of the day, only YOU live with your decision.