Buying a Home - Checklists that Prevent Monetary Pitfalls

Buying a home can be one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do but it can also be overwhelming when you find out how much stuff you need to know. However, if you ask the right questions and inspect the home thoroughly, you increase the odds of getting a home that fits you. You must be selective though if you want to avoid potential financial pitfalls.

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I made a huge mistake and got emotionally attached to the first home I purchased. It was love at first sight and so I overlooked all the obvious signs that the home needed a lot of TLC! Ultimately, it required a lot of repair and I learned a lot of hard monetary lessons. To protect your interests, you’ve got to be willing to do some digging first!

But before we get the shovels out, lets be clear. A home is NOT an investment as you might have been told. Instead, a home is a liability. Things around the house WILL eventually break down (a mathematical certainty) and other things will need upgrading or updating. If you’re not careful, you could fall right into a money sucker.

A home is also more than a bunch of rooms put together. Sure, it’s important to know the school district and the square footage but there are other things about a home that need to be part of the equation . Some things like carpets can be replaced relatively cheaply. However there are some other monetary considerations to examine before buying a home.

PreChecklist When Buying a Home

Taxes: How much money are you going to have to pay yearly to live in the home? Those end of year costs can add up quickly. Can you afford it?

Fire Department: What fire district is the home listed under? What is the rating of the firehouse? These things matter when you’re paying your homeowners insurance! If the fire department has a poor rating and you live more than 2 miles away from the firehouse, you can bet you’ll pay a lot more in insurance, according to the property value.

In addition, you will need to check for fire hazards throughout the home. Fire and water are the top causes of damage to homes. You may not be able to prevent flooding when buying a home, but most of the time, you can prevent fire. For example, if there's a wood-burning fireplace in the home, it needs to be inspected and possibly cleaned by a professional chimney sweep before you use it. Wild critters can take up residence and block the flue and that leaves you at risk!

Theft: Is the neighborhood safe? Have their been a lot of break-ins in the area? Does law enforcement regularly patrol the area? If the house get burglarized, you may lose some valuable and/or irreplaceable po$$e$$ions, even if you;re insured.

Flood Zone: Is the home in a potential flood zone? If so, is it worth the money to risk living there?

Other than those things, here are some things to look for in the home structure.

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Structural Checklist When Buying a Home

  • Roofing – How old are the shingles? How many years are they good for? (20, 30, 50?) Have the homeowners ever had any problems with leaks in the roof? Will the roof need to be replaced or repaired? Do check the ceilings of all the rooms in the house to look for potential problems that may have occurred before. Clues to look for are discolorations and yellowing.

  • Windows – What type of windows does the house have? If they're single paned, you should feel/check around the windows for any signs of air flow. If they’re not double or triple paned, that could be a potential problem if the home is located in an area that gets hit by a lot of storms or other hazardous weather phenomena.

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  • Crawl Space – Check the crawl space. Is it roomy and clean or scary, cramped, and mildewed? Let your nose and your eyes guide you. Also, the crawl space can give you many clues to the foundation of the home and what shape it’s in. Looking for moisture and cracks in the foundation AND inspecting all the exposed beams are some of the most important parts of buying a home.

  • Plumbing – Does the home have good water pressure? Do you have well water or city water or both? Is there a water softener for the house or reverse osmosis for drinking water? What is a typical monthly water bill? Are the pipes PVC or copper? The more you know ahead of time, the better your chances of buying a home without issues.

    Check bathrooms and kitchen for signs of leakage near pipes and check under the cabinets below the sinks. Flush the toilets and run water through the sink to get more clues.

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  • Heating and Air Conditioning – What type of unit does the house have? Does the system have good air flow? Is the system the right size (2 ton, 3 ton, etc.) for the amount of square footage? What’s a typical monthly bill? How old is the duct work? Is it gas heat or electrical heat? If it’s gas, is there a tank buried in the yard? If so, what company owns it? Do they charge a rental fee? What is a typical monthly gas bill?

  • Well water – If there’s a well on the property, how deep is it? Have there ever been any problems with getting water from the well? Where is the pump house?

  • Sewage – Does the house use city sewage or is there a septic tank or sump pump which have to be maintained.

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  • Basement and Attic – Carefully inspect the basement for signs of water leakage. If there’s a musty odor, check for other moisture problems around exposed pipes, walls, ceiling, beams, and floors. The same rules apply to the attic... except you must look UP to check for decayed wood on the roof structure. You must also check for ventilation.

  • Insulation – Proper insulation is so important when buying a home. If the home doesn’t have ample amounts, your power bills could be a potential financial problem. It’s important to have at least one foot of insulation in the ceiling and good amounts in the wall space. Adding new insulation to the attic can cost upwards of $1,000. Blowing it into the walls could add thousand of dollars beyond that cost.

  • You should also consider converting the home to solar IF you anticipate being in the home for many years to come. Its much more cost efficient to spend the money when building or buying, than to try and add it later.

    Buying a home can be a daunting task when you consider all the things you need to know. Newer homes shouldn't have near as many of the problems that older homes might. A home that’s only 10 years old shouldn’t be an issue if the home’s been properly cared for. If you invest in a home that’s in excess of twenty years old, you may be stuck with a lot of repairs you'll later want to kick yourself for.

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    Tips for Staying Cool to Help Beat the Heat

    Save Money on Heating Costs by Reducing Energy Consumption

    Staying Warm in Cold Temps – How to Beat Energy Costs and Keep Cozy!

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    Look Out for Potential Problems: 9 Things to Check Carefully when House Hunting

    10 Things to Inspect When Buying a Home

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