- Posted by hinged
The hard part was deciding where to live and selecting your dream house. Unfortunately, there’s still more to do.
For most people, applying for a mortgage is very stressful. Just getting all your records together can be time-consuming. It seems obvious, but keep copies of everything you send a bank or mortgage broker. It is not unusual to get a request for copies of documents that you have already provided or for additional information that needs to correspond with previous submittals.
Most residential real estate contracts include contingencies for inspections and obtaining financing. Make sure they grant you enough time to get the needed inspections and to arrange to finance. If you’re buying an older home with an in-ground oil tank, a good strategy is to add a contingency that will allow enough time for its removal. If any soil remediation is required, the cost should be borne by the seller. Don’t forget to test radon levels and water quality as well.
Houses don’t come with user manuals. Hinged.com with its customized maintenance plan comes close, but your initial inspection is a good way to learn about what is apt to be the biggest purchase of your life.
The pre-purchase inspection is really about discovery. Besides testing that all systems are functioning inspectors are looking for signs of leakage, flooding, corrosion and poorly done repairs. Your inspector has to be somewhat of a detective to sleuth out potential problems. Most states have laws for real estate sellers about disclosing any problems, and most sellers comply, but not always, so there is the need to look for quick cover-ups that may have been done to hide problems instead of fixing them. New paint in the basement done for marketing might also be covering up water stains from flooding. In between sleuthing a good inspector should be able to point out maintenance items like what valves in the basement may need to be turned off in the fall, and where the filters are on your new HVAC system. Bring a pad and pen or recording device and take particular notes of the location of the shut-offs for your water and gas mains as well as your home’s main electrical breaker or disconnect. Your inspector will be concentrating on your house, but make sure to take a good look around the yard. Look not only at man-made items like fencing and walkways but also at the condition of the trees. Look at your neighbor’s trees too. In most states, if their tree falls on your property it’s your problem.
Plan how you are going to live in your new home. Try to figure out ahead of time who gets which bedroom and what furniture will go where. Your move will go a lot smoother if you label everything with a destination in the house. Before the movers show up with your belongings, put a large sign on each door with the name of the room or occupant. Paper plates and a large marker work great. Be careful about using packing tape on the walls of your new home to hang the signs. I can tell you from experience that any tape other than easy release will remove paint. Make sure that your naming is consistent. If the box says TV room and the sign on the TV room says Den, there will be needless confusion.
Schedule the appointments for having your utilities activated as far ahead of time as possible. Electricity and gas are pretty simple, changing the name and billing usually occurs, without an interruption of service. Installing cable, the internet or satellite TV, and phone often takes a repeat visit. Schedule your installation as close to your closing as possible, but don’t count on having service that day. If garbage collection is a private service in your new neighborhood, make sure you also schedule that. Often the collection companies will throw in or discount an initial pick up of moving debris for a new customer.
Depending on the condition of the property, plan on a few improvements. Refinishing hardwood floors, painting and changing carpets are both a lot easier to accomplish before you move your furniture into the house. That way your belongings won’t get covered in plaster and sawdust. Polyurethane floor finishes continue to harden for months after they are applied. If you don’t have the leisure of scheduling a few extra days or better yet a week after the finish is applied for it to cure, rolling down a floor protector like RAM board at least in the high traffic areas will help prevent scratches.
Give yourself enough time to do a thorough walk-thru the day of the closing. We once bought a house where the hot water heater started leaking after the initial inspection, and the homeowner was able to find a plumber willing to reroute the pipes around it. Ending that first long hard day of moving and unpacking with an unexpected cold shower was not fun. Check that the plumbing, lighting, and appliances are still working and that the owner’s stuff has been removed from the basement and attic. Double check that any repairs the seller agreed to have been satisfactorily completed. Don’t forget to take a walk around the property to look for newly fallen trees or large branches.
Take a deep breath and try to enjoy the excitement. Most people will only buy one, maybe two houses in their lifetime. Yes, it is stressful, but remember in a few weeks you will be part of the American dream.