Ten Things you should consider before you decide what home to buy.

Dated: February 5 2020

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I’ve sold, as a real estate broker, 100’s of homes. Over the years I have seen mistakes and fortunately many successes.  Today I will share some things that I have learned that you should consider before you make you final home buying decision. This is not about where to buy a home, but some things you should consider when making your final selection.

1.       Will you be able to sell it?  There is an old adage that says you make your money when you buy your home, because only you decide what you will pay.  When you sell the home, however, you have little control over the price, that decision is in the hands of the buyer. You may not mind the high tension wires visible in the back yard, or  you may be accepting  of the quirky  small closets in the extra bedroom, but will the next buyer be as will to accept these problems? Don’t only buy what you want, but buy what the next buyer will want as well. (And don’t buy unfixable problems)

2.       Will the home meet your needs for the long term? Is your family growing or shrinking?  What will your needs be five years from now? How long WILL you live in this house? Could you retire here? Take the time to write down what you want in a home, keep that list updated[GF1] ,  and compare this home to your list, your needs, and your objectives.

3.       Immerse yourself in the home. Sit down in every room (even on the floor if there is no furniture). Imagine cooking a meal in the kitchen, taking a shower in the bathroom, and picture your furniture, your pets, and your guests in the home. Go at night. Walk the neighborhood. Sit down in the back yard. Walk your dog around the yard and around the block.  Meet your potential neighbors. Take a bike ride in the area. Explore different days of the week and different times of the day. Open windows, check out closet and cabinet space, and examine the landscaping. Listen, Smell, and Absorb. (Read my Top Ten Home Buyer Mistakes )

4.       Cost to own.  What you pay the day you buy the home is one picture, the monthly and annual costs of living is quite another. In one of my previous articles I put a link of how long various components of a Florida House are expected to last (Read that article here). PLAN on the cost to replace those items in the house at the appropriate time frame in the article.   Check with the local utility company and find out what the electric bills are. Know your costs for water, insurance, and yard upkeep and pool upkeep. Know the condo or HOA fees and how financially strong they are. GET A HOMEONWERS INSURANCE ESTIMATE. Sometimes buying new is better.

5.       Can you improve the home?  I am a big believer is regular maintenance program for homes. But the ability to update and improve a home may be just as important in some older homes. Are there things that you can do to the home you are buying that will allow you to improve it? Add a room, enlarge closets? Move walls and make an open floor plan? Add a pool, a garage or a garden deck? Compare these improvements with a house that already has them. For example., it is almost always cheaper to buy a house with a pool than add one to an existing house.

6.       Does the home have functional obsolescence?  Will it BECOME functionally obsolete? Some items that contribute to functional obsolescence are small closets, dead end kitchens, superfluous space, drafty windows and doors, outdated tile and bathrooms, and outdated plumbing and electric.

7.       Is the home in an appreciating or a depreciating neighborhood?   Is the neighborhood changing at all? How? What is the percentage of renters versus owner occupied?  (It may surprise you to know that statewide almost 50% of homes  are not owner occupied. 

8.       Detailed inspections.  You should be familiar with four point inspections for insurance purposes ( read  my article about four point  inspections here). But you need to do more.   I good general inspection is critical.  I suggest to my clients to do the free inspections first, and sometime these are the most important. The pool, the roof, the septic, and the A/C can all have individual experts inspect them and except for perhaps the septic system, the experts will do this for free. If you have a sea wall this should also be inspected. Same thing for a well and water quality.

9.       Have a ground man.  This will be the opinion of someone not emotionally or financially involved in the home buying process.   Get one of your objective friends to view the house and give you their comments.   This person should be able to see past the cool breeze wafting through the Australian Pines and see the real house and the real opportunity;  someone that can keep your decision grounding in your real needs and goals. 

10.   Alternatives.  Once you have made your decision, examine all your alternatives. If you decided, for example,  to spend $300 on a particular home, look at all the other homes you can buy for  $300,000.  

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Gregg Fous

Real estate has been my passion since I took my first Al Lowery class on real estate investing in the 1970’s. I vowed during that class that I would buy one property a year. Over the next five ....

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