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Aug. 23rd, 2007 @ 02:24 pm Oh great Livejournal within which resides all knowledge ...
Current Location: PHX
Current Mood: curiouscurious
a friend of mine is buying his first house and asks the following:

"What advice do you have for a first-time home buyer?
What do you wish you knew when you were buying a house?"

So I thought I"d refer to a greater mind then mine :)

Anyone have any suggestions for this poor noob?

Thanks
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AZ Burrowing Owl
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From:bridgit
Date:August 23rd, 2007 11:28 pm (UTC)
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Just off the top of my head -

1.) Make sure there is enough parking (what he has and at least 1 visitor spot if its a townhouse).
2.) If he is going to be there for an extended period of time (i.e. more than 5 years) make sure there is room to grow.
3.) Make sure he really loves the place because for the first couple of years he's not really going to go anywhere else. :)
4.) Look for water damage, and if there is a plunger anywhere near the bathrooms give it a pass because they have flushing issues.

Thats about all I can come up with... We bought new construction because we couldn't do the bidding war of paying over the value of the house (one person paid $50,000 over the value of a home just to buy it) we just didn't have the funds.
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From:galeni
Date:August 23rd, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
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Sometimes a plunger is related more to the internal plumbing of the residents, mind you, with the pipes being perfectly fine for anyone with a healthy diet. Ours has minor challenges with four women's tampons (especially when the cycles are all in sync) but is otherwise just fine.
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From:galeni
Date:August 23rd, 2007 11:50 pm (UTC)
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Do the drapes/curtains/blinds come with? Does the hardware for same stay (they took ours away once, even tho it was written into the contract that they were all included)? Any insurance claims in the past ten years (replaced fences, walls from leaking from the roof (ice got between things on the roof and we had a leak in our bottom floor apartment)? How old is the plumbing? (Pipe can get plugged if hard water, or holey in very soft water.) Any drainage problems? Check with neighbors to see if there are any problems in the neighborhood re: noise, trains, grow ops, gangs (motorcycle or otherwise), loud stereos? Where's the nearest stores and can you walk? Transit? Parking for guests? How thick are the walls and floors and can you hear the neighbors? (Good to check a condo at dinner time when people tend to be home and being noisy.) Pets? Former pets and now stains that stink when it's damp? When was the fireplace last cleaned? Use it often? Enough pantry/food storage space? Enough walls for bookcases? Any aluminum wiring in the place from an old remodel (needs to be replaced)? Which ways do the prevailing winds blow or storms in winter and are the trees around the place healthy or likely to fall at any time? Do the gutters fill with leaves?

Guess I know a lot more than I thought, but I've bought a few places over the years.

Best of luck!!!
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From:helcat
Date:August 24th, 2007 02:19 am (UTC)
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i was commended for having my act together on the financial side.

1. check your credit score first. if it needs work, spend some time working on it. dispute everything vigorously, take care of any delinquencies and subscribe to TrueCredit while you're working on your credit. Don't apply for anything until all three scores are >than 650.
2. ask about mortgage programs that will allow you to finance smart: fixed-rate, 30 year programs are out there for first time buyers for little or no downpayment above and beyond FHA.
3. have all of your financial information organized before you get to the mortgage loan officer. they love that, and think it's sexy. make copies of your two most recent bank statements, pay stubs, retirement statements, any other liquable assets you have. Get pre approved, which is not the same thing as prequalified. Get a good faith estimate of the costs for the loan for which you are approved. it should tell you how much your mortgage payment is, including all taxes and costs.
4. if you're buying a condo or townhouse, findout what the association fee covers. if it's three hundred a month and no utilities are included, fsck it.
5. once you know how much house you can afford, interview three or four real estate agents til you find one that clicks with you. don't go with anyone who makes you sign something first. use a Realtor, and not all real estate agents are Realtors. Don't go house shopping without that preapproval letter, because if you find the house you love and discover you can't get it, it's physically painful and emotionally draining.
6. Lowball. The worst that can happen is they counter.
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From:delkytlar
Date:August 24th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
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- Check the basement and attic for ANY sign of water (dampness, stains, "old" drip marks, mustiness, mold, etc.) Water is a homeowner's greatest enemy.

- Look over the utilities carefully (furnace, waterheater, A/C, electric/gas/water meters) or have someone look them over if the buyer does not feel competent in those areas.

- Examine and ask to see any remaining appliances run (stove, dishwasher, washer/dryer, A/C).

On a different level, one tip to keep in mind if your friend is going to live in an area that gets significant snow. If they don't have a homeowner's association plowing the driveway, be aware that most snowplows plow to the right side of the vehicle. If the house is on that side of the street, your friend should be prepared to dig out the drive more than once per storm.
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From:quarkwiz
Date:August 24th, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC)
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A lot of my advice wouldn't apply because we bought directly from the seller. However, in addition to the excellent financial advice already offered, I'll say this: Big down payment. Big, big, BIG. As big as you can without selling off loved ones. A big down payment will make a lot of other questions go away. We got our 30-year fixed at a very nice rate from the first bank we asked; absolutely painless.

Also--book a room at the nearest Lowe's/Home Despot. It's gonna be yer second home for awhile. ;-)