Do’s and don’ts for buy­ing a home

Gulf & Main - - Contents - BY GREGG FOUS Gregg Fous is a Re­al­tor and real es­tate in­vest­ment ad­viser in Fort My­ers.

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.

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