At Windsor Realty, we find that most homeowners believe they have a full understanding on what to expect when buying a home. They are prepared for closing costs (though many are surprised at how quickly those costs add up), and down payments, but often times homeowners need to be prepared for those sudden, unexpected costs.
How do you save money or at the very least, get a heads-up on what costs may be coming out of your pocket when you least expect it and worst yet, when you can least afford it?
Ask a few questions before you close on a home and it could very well save you some much-needed cash.
1. When was the last time your appliances and heating/cooling system were repaired or replaced?
When looking through a home, buyers are quick to note the storage space, the condition of the kitchen and landscaping, yet they rarely ask about those big-ticket items that can be very expensive to repair or replace. For example, when looking at a home, ask the real estate agent how old the appliances are, how old the roof is and if it has required any major work, how old the furnace is and if it is maintained annually.
If recent work was done on any of the above, chances are, there are warranties. Make sure you know this information before you make an offer. And don’t hesitate to try a few things out. Run the hot water, turn on the stove and pay attention to the appliances.
2. What are the monthly utility bills?
Here, you want to know what the average cost is for electric, gas, cable, Internet and water. If the utility bills seem extra high, take note and make sure that a home inspector is aware of this information as their could be an issue with an appliance or system that needs repair.
Of course, knowing this information allows you to prepare a budget. Make sure you find out how much heating usually costs during the coldest of months, and if air conditioning is necessary, what those costs average are as well.
3. Who are the repair companies you use?
If you have issues with your home, it may be a good idea to go initially with the repair people who the former owner used. They have a good background and are familiar with the property. If you can’t find a shut-off valve, or if you are not certain if there is a warranty, then it’s easy to find out by calling those that know your house best at this point. Not only that, if you have an emergency, you don’t need to go through the phone book wondering who is reliable and who is not.
4. Don’t ignore a home inspection:
I have said this so many times, but it always bears repeating. Never, ever ignore a home inspection. I don’t care how much you love a home, it’s not a good idea to buy a property “as is” regardless if you are getting it at a steal. Why? Because some repairs can end up costing you thousands upon thousands of dollars.
Could you afford it if you found out that your home has a faulty, ancient wiring system that needs to be completely replaced?
What about if you found out your home’s foundation is crumbling and needs to be completely replaced?
Even at the very least, if an inspector finds that you need a water heater, they can give you an idea on how much that will cost and you can negotiate a better offer or ask for repairs before you close on a home.
We don’t know anyone that doesn’t want to save money when buying a home. However, unless you know what to look for or understand that buying a home can be full of surprises, and many of them costly, then you may overpay for a home when it’s not necessary.
Experts say that you need anywhere from 3 to 6 months of mortgage payments reserved in an emergency fund. This is very good advice, but keep in mind that if you ask the right questions you can save from the very beginning or at the very least, be prepared for those unexpected surprises.
Work with a professional real estate agent that can help prepare you for most everything. Chances are, we have seen it all. Our job is to make sure you get the house that you want for the right price.