Do’s and don’ts for buy­ing a home

Times of the Islands - - Departments - 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.

At the end of the day, only YOU live with your de­ci­sion.

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.

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