1. Get the sewage pipe scoped. I wish I would have down that with my first house. If I would have known that, I would have never bought the house. Tree roots were growing into the sewer pipe. Every 6 months or so we would have the sewer pipe back up and had to call a plumber out on an emergency call. It was advised to us that we should probably replace the sewage pipe with a PVC pipe. This would involve tearing up the concrete in the basement and digging out the front yard to get access to the pipe. It was going to cost a lot of money. We eventually moved (for those wondering, we did disclose that information to the buyer and they were ok with that for whatever reason).
I think of myself as a pretty handy person who can fix a lot of things, but replacing a sewage pipe is literally impossible for Joe Schmoe to fix by themself.
2. Don’t put time restraints on when you have to buy a house. If you don’t find what you want, where you want, in your budget. It’s ok to rent another year or two.
3. If it’s your first house and you dont plan on living there forever dont try and find the “perfect” place and stretch your budget. Get something you like that works with your life and has potential to work with your future (spouse, kids, pets etc) but dont over extend just because it has a deck/garage/finished basement whatever.
It’s all about balancing your housing desires with your desire to have money for trips or savings or cars or whatever is important to you.
Also dont get caught up in emotion. People can get an idea that “this is the one” then they end up in a bidding war or pay above budget, be prepared to walk away.
4. That you need to factor in property taxes, HOA dues (if a member) and repairs when doing the “rent vs buy” calculator.
My monthly costs for owning my house are at least $600 more per month than renting, more in the winter when my electric bill is higher because of the larger space and fewer shared walls to help retain heat. And that’s for a townhouse where I don’t have to worry about exterior walls, roof, and much in the way of landscaping. In the long run it will be worth doing because I’m in a crazy real estate market, but it is definitely a big financial hit that is really not “cheaper than renting.”
5. That the taxes that were in place when you bought the house probably haven’t been reassessed in a good while. This means that you’ll pay the agreed upon mortgage price for a year, but the taxes will be reassessed to the purchase price of the house when you buy it. No one will tell you this. This will create a shortfall in your escrow account that you’ll either have to pay immediately or draw out over your monthly payments. Luckily for you, about the time you pay this off, the taxes will be due for reassessment again and they’ll just tack on that amount too. So what was a great deal, easy to cover, just got $300 more expensive each month, which is a lot.
So keep that in mind and always buy under budget.
6. Check water pressure, flush all the toilets, let showers and bathtubs fill a bit and watch em drain. Make sure all the outlets in the house are those 3 pronged outlets with the grounding pin.
7. Keep a running list of projects to take care of. Then take care of them as you have opportunity — many smaller projects are good things to take care of on rainy days or during the winter. But realize and come to grips with the fact that you’ll never drive that list to zero items — it’s a living document that even on the day you sell the house will still have things on it that you would have liked to take care of. You’ll drive yourself completely bonkers if you try to get the list down to zero items.
8. All of the costs of home ownership. A breakdown of one time costs amortized monthly on top of actual monthly costs.
Some people only see mortgages as the cost of ownership. Some recognize utilities. But what about lawn care (mower, fuel, e.t.c), roof replacement, HVAC replacement, e.t.c. shit adds up quickly.
For instance I will have to replace my HVAC before summer and that’s going to run me about 14k. But my roof has also started to fail and that’s gonna cost me about $22k. This is my second home so I’ve been preparing for this, but I look back at when I bought my first and it never crossed my mind.
9. Get a roof inspection before buying the house. A house that is 20+ years needs a roof to be replaced. I bought a house and found out on the final walk through that there was a roof issue. Roof is leaking on one of the attic. We asked for credit but did not get enough. They gave us 1600 credit but we spent 3,200 for replacing that section of the roof. Few months later we had to do the same in another section of the roof. If we had it properly inspected. We could have asked for more credit or get the roof replaced. Now we’re saving up to redo the whole roof.
10. Don’t settle on the first one or even the 2nd.
Also, don’t get upset if you lose out on a offer for the house you think is perfect.
Every single time we lost out on a house we thought was perfect we found a better one shortly after.
In fact, we put an offer on one we thought was ‘the one’. Just 36 hours later we saw a listing for a much nicer house in way nicer neighborhood for exact same price. Put in our offer on the new house and bam, instantly accepted. Had to rescind on the previous house offer in the same day. Was a weird feeling.
But up to that point, we’d found lots of houses we thought were perfect until finally the real ‘one’ was found 🙂 But even then, I know there is still a better house out of there us somewhere for the same price. There’s always something better, but somehow that makes me feel better about our house choice. Good structure and foundation, good plumbing, solid house that just needed a few upgrades to be a really nice place.
11. If you find a home that you like, do some research on who you want to do your home inspection. With our first home, we were referred to a home inspector by our realtor. The guy was fucking awful. But you have no idea of how bad a home inspector is until it’s too late and they’re asking for money (the first thing he did when we walked into the house with him was take a shit and he walked out of the bathroom and said “whelp… toilet works fine”). We just said fuck it and paid him. Turns out that there were a ton of things wrong with that house that were never caught. With our 2nd home, the home inspection went way better and we were blown away at how much better the process was. We did our research the 2nd time.
Ask around. Ask people at work or in your family who might have recently bought a house. I if they had a good home inspector, they will absolutely refer them to you. Once you get some inspectors, google them and read their reviews. The cheapest one also isn’t your best option. They’re cheap for a reason.
12. If you’re new to a geographic area, rent in the area first. I like our house a lot but wish we lived closer to certain things. First time living in this state so I wish we rented near by and got a feel for what street/area we wanted.
13. Get comfortable doing things yourself. It’s scary at first but pretty surprising how simple everything is. Take your time, understand it, and fix it right. If you have to call someone for every little thing you’ll go broke.
The repairs that I thought were too big for me before I bought the house ended up being pretty simple tbh. I was afraid of touching electrical work when we first moved in, but we just passed a year in our house and I’ve put in a fan, light kits, a chandelier, outlets and switches, replaced a circuit breaker, repaired and outdoor underground electrical line, re-wired irrigation wiring, and probably some more too.
YouTube is your friend.
14. My one big piece of advice is to keep up with maintenance, as unsexy as it may be.
For the big things that’s a pretty obvious piece of advice. A leaking roof needs to be taken care of. A failed furnace needs replacing, etc.
Less obvious is that this also means not letting the little things slide just because you’re OK with them or “you’ll get around to it eventually”. The mini-blinds that are kind of busted and need replacement. That jiggly door handle. That pounding in the pipes whenever you turn on the kitchen sink. That small hole in the drywall from where the doorknob slammed into it that one time. This is the stuff that will drive you absolutely crazy fixing up when you sell your house some day in the future, because it’s the stuff people notice and gives your house a bad vibe, even though no one thing is that big of a deal.
Included in this piece of advice are aesthetic/cosmetic items. Once in a while step back and take a look at your carpeting, and ask yourself if it’s in acceptable condition. Give your paint colors a once-a-decade hard stare and decide if they still look good. Are there any shower heads that work just fine, but look kind of nasty from hard water scale buildup? None of this stuff matters as far as using your home (well, unless the carpet gets too far gone), but they do contribute to your sense of enjoyment of the home, and that’s worth something.
15. When I got a house, I severely underestimated the cost of bringing it to a “ready to live in” state.
I mean, when I moved it, it was ready to live in, of course, but little things like adding a light to a closet or installing a ceiling fan… it really added up. Plan ahead. The bigger TV for the bigger room is the last thing you need. Make a budget for your upgrades/repairs, and don’t let yourself fall into the “I need this done at move in to be happy” mindset. A floor fan is just as sufficient as a ceiling fan for a few months.
16. After buying your house it’s common to get a little depressed. It’s an odd, but not uncommon reaction. Maybe it’s just that the stress is over and you’re rebounding, but it’s normal and it passes.