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Question DetailsAsked on 6/21/2011

If I knew then what I know now...

What's the best piece of advice you received after becoming a new homeowner?

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29 Answers

0
Votes

BE TOUGHER ABOUT CREDITS AND FIXES!!!
My wife and I bought from a FSBO person (I know I'm opening a can of real estate worms here, but ...) and we did the purchase agreement ourselves. We got a decent price (we loved the house and the seller refused to pay a commission if we used an agent) so we figured, "Let's all save some money!" Anyway, there weren't major problems but a lot of little ones. They basically got away with just installing a sump pump (and having the hose go out the wrong side of the house) but the garage doors and side window should have been replaced and a toilet was on the fritz and there was a joist that needed reinforcement. And as we speak, the SH*T TRUCK is at our house vacuuming out our grinder/ejector pit because the electric shorted out on the unit and it stopped working a few days ago (we didn't know because no electric = no alarm). Not sure if that's the previous owner's fault, but I'll throw it in there. The unit's electric box had crappy seals and a giant hole in the side. I almost got electrocuted last night trying to troubleshoot. So it probably should have been in a little better shape 1 1/2 years ago when we moved in. After flipping the circuit breaker, a bang, a shooting flame and a cloud of smoke, I threw in the towel and called the proper fecal authorities. Sick!
My point is we should have legitimately gotten a few thousand in fixes and/or credits that we didn't get because we were starry-eyed first-timers. Which gets back to the math of "Does an agent make sense or not?" Would the fixes cost less than the commission paid to someone to negotiate them for you? Not sure. For us and the price house we were in, we probably still came out a little bit ahead. Next time, though ...

Answered 6 years ago by your_pal_chris

0
Votes

Everything costs $1,000. That's what I wish I knew.

Quote for getting trees trimmed: $1,075

Quote for interior painting: $1,000

Quote to fix my fireplace: $1,000

Deductible for my hail-damaged roof: $1,000

That could buy a lot of vodka.



Answered 6 years ago by Kimbelina

0
Votes

1. Every change/repair is going to take two to three times as long as estimated, cost 25% more (wouldn't you rather have it THIS way?) and be ten times as frustrating.


2. Get three to five estimates. Pick the guy you like best and ask him to meet a price within the range you got and that you feel is reasonable.

Kasandra

Answered 6 years ago by Kasandra

0
Votes

I loved Kimbelina's reply, it made me laugh. However she does have a point. If you are a first-time buyer of a home there is a lot more to think about than, "can we afford the mortgage?"

I read somewhere you should estimate an additional 45% in cost, and while I'm not sure that number is correct, there are a lot of costs to deal with. I've tried to list some items you might want to think about.

Homeowner's insurance, a lawn mower, weed cutter, rake or leaf blower, edger, maintenance and upkeep on your wood fence/deck/exterior of your home, window/roof/ and furnace repair/replacement. If you choose to keep up your own yard, you will need several different kinds of cutters for flowers, bushes and tree limbs; lawn maintence products, or you can choose to hire someone. If you choose to do this yourself you may possibly require a shed or somewhere to put all your items.

Moving inside you will need appliances if you don't have your own. You may wish to paint or need to fix kitchen or bathroom drawers, toilets, sinks, showers and/or bathubs. Hopefully your floors and ceilings are in good condition, but what about the electrical and plumbing?

My intent with this is not to discourage but to be sure you have a realistic feel for what it may cost you. Before purchasing a home use a realtor with a good rep that has been in the business a long time. They can recommend someone who is in the business of inspecting the inside and outside of the home you are interested in. It will save you thousands in the long run.

Oh, and Kimberlina my preference is Tequila! [;)]

Answered 6 years ago by Snowcat

1
Vote

The one thing that would have saved you a lot of anguish or at the very minimum given you knowledge is to have hired a professional independent inspector to give you a rundown of the condition of the house. If the seller would not have permitted it, then RUN!!!!! With this report you then have a tool to negotiate with, could be about price, them paying closing costs, seller paying for a home warranty, etc etc.

Thats what a realtor does, its a business to them and they do not become emotionally involved like often times sellers & buyers do when they negotiate face to face. And the buyers could have hired a realtor to walk them through the process for a much reduced price from an ordinary commission.

With each of lifes experience we gain knowledge

Answered 6 years ago by Marion

0
Votes

Here's the advice we got and followed.

Get the house inspected every 5 years. You go to the doctor regularly and catch small problems before they get to be big expensive ones - why not the house?

When you are ready to sell and move on, it is so much easier to get the house ready for market.

Answered 6 years ago by PSW

0
Votes

Great advice from all!

My advice:

Before settling on the initial offer, be sure that you look over everything carefully...Sure, you can negotiate after the inspection, but the "unwritten rule" is that you can't ask for things that you should have noticed on your own. As for Inspector--be sure the guy has carpentry experience. If you do find things in the inspection, get your own estimates and negotiate the $ amount the seller is willing to forego at closing.


During the time between the initial acceptance and closing, make as few requests of the seller as possible. It's a thorny time and everyone is anxious and every comment/request is likely to be misinterpreted. Rely on your real estate agent to be the voice of reason of what to ask for and what to expect.

Don't buy a FSBO if you can help it...having a professional "middle (wo)man" reduces the stress level (in my opinion).


Oh, and the golden rule, "Treat others as you would like to be treated," works well for buying, maintaining, and selling your home.





Don't go with the lowest price inspector. They are worth it. pay for a *REAL* Inspector

Answered 6 years ago by jwwt

0
Votes

Check the planning and zoning for your neighborhood. I thought that I was puchasing a home in an old, well established Virginia neighborhood and didn't have to worry about new development. Wrong! If I had checked, I would have discovered that there were plans to construct a "planned" village which included single family homes, townhouses, apartments and retail stores just a few miles away. My quiet neighborhood became the shortcut between the new village and the main throughway, bringing a lot of traffic to my road. I would also have found out that there were areas within my own development that the original builder didn't build on due to marine clay. A new builder received approval to build on those sites. (Which calls to mind....make sure your house isn't built on marine clay....your house could take an expensive trip when the ground shifts.)

Answered 6 years ago by OhioRose

0
Votes

[quote user="your_pal_chris"]BE TOUGHER ABOUT CREDITS AND FIXES!!!
My point is we should have legitimately gotten a few thousand in fixes and/or credits that we didn't get because we were starry-eyed first-timers. Which gets back to the math of "Does an agent make sense or not?" Would the fixes cost less than the commission paid to someone to negotiate them for you? Not sure. For us and the price house we were in, we probably still came out a little bit ahead. Next time, though ...

[/quote]

You didn't need a real estate agent, you only needed a good inspector.

We also have been battling lots of repairs on a house we purchased in March - but, we had an agent and an inspector. The inspector didn't do a good job. The agent had nothing to do with it.

Answered 6 years ago by xellil

0
Votes

What everybody has said is great advice. What hasn't been said...

There is nothing like the feeling of having your own nest to feather and snuggle into (can you tell I am getting ready for winter?). It is a place that you can truly make your own. I don't mind investing in my hobby, gardening, because it increases the beauty and value of my home. My husband discovered a previously unknown talent for garden design and has spent many wonderful hours enjoying the yard (it's also cheaper and more rewarding than therapy!).

We have remodeled and added touches that have made our home a delightful sanctuary for us. We now work out of our home and enjoy the many improvements we have made every day. It is also a joy to share special times with family and friends in our very own home.

It is also an investment tax shelter. Even if the value doesn't rise as fast as it has in previous years, I have never seen home values go down (unless someone or something ruins the house through neglect or act of nature). At the very least, you aren't throwing away rent money every month.

I LOVE owning our own home. I hope you will too!

Answered 6 years ago by Jeannie

0
Votes

Here is my two cents, (wisdom that is costing me dearly). I wish someone had told me "don't buy a house with a swimming pool" and then tattooed the message on my forehead in case I forgot. It is a useless hole in which you must throw $100 bills into.

Answered 6 years ago by orthoboarder

0
Votes

What I wish I knew then....that primer is not an alternative to painting, but a necessary requirement...that what looks great in a magazine doesn't translate well to real life....always go a shade or two lighter when you're chosing paint...show your personality, not someone else's, it's your house, not theirs...always hire professionals to do a job, just because your friend Billy Joe Jim Bob knows how to use a screwdriver and drill doesn't mean he can do the job right...all major appliances and equipment will likely break in the same year.

Answered 6 years ago by Chastity1053

-1
Votes

You have little or no recourse. My state Mass. ( a blue state ) is the only state that makes it a criminal offense for a real estate salesperson to recommend a home inspector. Guess why??? YOU yes YOU should have hired a home inspector who is a full member of The American Society of Home Inspectors. He would have found and reported to you most of the problems that are now costing you.

However, most, if not all of the problems that are costing you now were known by the seller. In my state you can bring suit against the seller and get 3 times the cost of their repair as compensatory and punitive damages if they knew or probably knew of the problems you encountered in your brief ownership. And why on earth would you even consider trusting a salesperson??? Fox guarding the hen house??

Answered 6 years ago by aceinspector

0
Votes

My titbit (and forgive me if this was already mentioned) is DO NOT purchase American Home Sheild .... expecially from your realtor / agent. They get commission and it's a BIG rip off. Just put theis money in a high earning savings account annually (bi annually?) and use it if/when you need it.

Answered 6 years ago by cassar11

0
Votes

To anyone out there considering a home warranty (through your realtor or on your own), they aren't always a bad thing...you just have to know what you're getting in to. Angie has some good tips on what to look for and what to be aware of when considering a home warranty company. I hope this helps some of you!

http://www.angieslisttips.com/Tips-Home-Warranties.asp

Sarah

Answered 6 years ago by Sarah

0
Votes

I seem to have had good luck signing up with American Home Shield. I have already recouped my money plus have other work to be performed by their vendors. BTY, I am also a plumbing vendor for AHS so I have benefited both ways.

Answered 6 years ago by plumber

0
Votes

I also have had dealings with AHS and was an authorized contractor for them. Numerous times I would be breaking the bad news given to me from AHS that they'll fix this but not if it is that, or this will be covered but not unless this is broken too.

Too many hoops to jump that make it a secure move. Yes some of the items were covered but most of the time the homeowner was still shelling out dough.=

Remember, read the exclusions on your coverage; it is the only thing that counts in the deck of cards when buying such a policy with AHS or other.

Trust me, they are in the business to make money so there's one reason why you shouldn't expect full coverage in everyday repairs that crop up in homes just purchased.

Answered 6 years ago by RK44

0
Votes

sometimes its all in the way that problems are reported to AHS, the less said the better. That goes for any home warranty company.

Answered 6 years ago by plumber

0
Votes

I find it a little amusing that someone would hire an inspector for $300 to $400 and expect them to protect their best interest in the home buying process. If you truly wish to have your interests protected I would strongly suggest you find someone that charges $1400 to $3500, depending on the price and size of the home. The price of the inspection should match the inspection project. If you find an inspector in this range he or she would be more likely to repair issues that may have been overlooked during the inspection and most likely would not miss them in the first place. A lot of the associations have what we call "Cheap Charlies". These are inspectors that must trade quality for quantity because no one uses them. They will usually float cheap inspection deals all year long. It's only a matter of time before they're out of business. On the other hand, there are a handful of inspectors out there that have been in construction for their entire lives. They will appear expensive at first but can save a homeowner a tremendous amount of money in the long run.



Answered 6 years ago by James

0
Votes

... before becoming a homeowner: be realistic

take off the rosy glasses! actively look for flaws in the house (new or resale) & community; then the infrastructure, tax base, insurability: be realistic about your needs Vs wants. maybe more importantly, honestly assess your financial health.

last year a friend asked for advice about relocating to a town I know well. I suggested she "vacation" there for several days to determine if that town would suit her needs & meet her expectations = she didn't relocate

If you've already purchased a new home, invest in the best home owner's insurance policy


Answered 6 years ago by tessa89

0
Votes

You aren't another Angie's List employee posting this to get material for a podcast, are you? [:D]

Answered 6 years ago by Commonsense

0
Votes

Who is "you"???

Answered 6 years ago by tessa89

0
Votes

Good roofers/painters/plumbers/electricians earn their money! I've tried all of the previous thinking "how hard can it be" and it can be pretty hard!

Answered 6 years ago by ShudHave

0
Votes

the advice i would give is the home owns you you don't own it

Answered 6 years ago by granny65

0
Votes

Some don'ts would be as follows: Forget the charm of all those sliding glass doors. They are energy pigs whether it's hot or cold. Same with the pool which, we you first see it, deludes you into thinking that it will be sooooo much fun. Only the first year and then the sticker shock sets in. The last thing is never put LOCATION less than number one on the list when looking.



Answered 6 years ago by michelemabelle

0
Votes

I had drain tile installed from a company suggested by Angie's List. The basement is dry, but there are a few things I can caution you about. First, use an established company. If the company goes out of business, the warranty is worthless. The one I used is out of business now. They attached a hose outside for the water to drain from the sump pump. There is quite a bit of water coming out. My neighbor reported it to the city. After a city inspector came out, I was told that this is not allowed in the city, only the suburbs of Chicago. He said to contact someone who is licensed by the city to correct the situation ASAP. Many of the companies who provide basement waterproofing are not licensed. It is good to check on this before you hire them to do the job. Now, we are paying a sewer company 2600.00 to direct the water into the Chicago Sewer System from two sump pumps, which is what the city code demands. Also, it is a good idea to get a back up pump. If electricity goes off during a storm, the pump will continue to work. Another thing that was discovered is that in order to get a clean cut in the concrete floor they have to use a "diamond cutter". I couldn't find anyone that uses one in Chicago. If the cut is not clean, cracks in the cement floor can be a problem which can lead to other difficulties such a radon seepage from under the foundation. We did get some cracks, which they tried to seal but there doesn't seem to be much choice as no one offers a clean cut, at least not in the Chicago area. Once the cracks appear, you can't really seal it and what was once a smooth concrete floor does not look as good with cracks in it.Installing a fence. Check and double check references. I used, what I thought was a reputable company that I had used before, only to discover that there were new owners. The men who came only spoke Spanish. They started the job that was supposed to be completed that day, and had to leave because they needed to plug in their equipment. When I came home, I found the fence torn down, but nothing in its place. They neglected to tell me that they would need to use my electric. They left wide gaps in the fence when they did install it. One fence is not straight and another was too tall. I was there when they discovered it. I tried to stop them as they dug a trench in the ground to push the fence into so it was the proper height. With the language barrier, they chose to ignore me and continued. In another area, I did get them to put another piece of wood in to fill a large gap. Nail were sticking out. It was a bad experience. A representative came out to look and insisted that there was nothing wrong with the job. They kept harassing me about paying the bill. I finally gave up and paid it anyway. I was fearful of the response if I didn't pay it. I had to hire someone to dig under the fence and put bricks there to prevent the wood from rotting from being jammed into the dirt. One cannot imagine the things that can go wrong until they do. It was that experience that prompted me to join Angie's List.

Answered 6 years ago by anmlprht

0
Votes

Never buy a new house from a builder/developer.

Answered 6 years ago by harry

0
Votes

I'm a real estate Broker who works in the Chicago area. I as a real estate agent would have suggested a home inspection. I've had handy buyers, who have rehabbed homes before; I do not recommend home inspections for them because they know as much as any inspector does. However, for first time buyers, I would have insisted it.

A real estate agent can also give you ammunition to negotiate a better price to make sure you're not paying above market value.

Source: http://www.tonysellschicago.com

Answered 6 years ago by Able Realty

0
Votes

FYI, a FSBO seller doesn't discount the price of the house by the amount of the real estate fee. They ask market value, which always includes the price of the real estate agents involved. Also, sellers and buyers may think they know a lot about how to do a real estate transaction, but real estate agents do it every day, sellers and buyers only once every few years, if that much. So a word to the wise, if you're buying, get your own agent and ask the FSBO seller to pay for the buyer's agent's fee. If you're selling, either get an agent to represent you in this "arm's length" transaction, or get a VERY experienced real estate attorney. If you're determined to go it alone as a FSBO seller or buyer, buy a book that will help you through the transaction, and make sure the author is familiar with the laws of your state. Most authors are generically informed.

The other thing I would suggest if you go it alone: ask for references from any inspector you hire. Don't just go with anybody. Inspectors in most states aren't regulated. Anybody can throw up a website and claim to be an expert. If you're using a real estate agent, they'll recommend one or two that they KNOW will do a good job. They don't get a dime for recommending someone, so don't worry that you'll get fleeced by an agent and inspector who are in cahoots.

I liked the advice from the person above who said to keep to a minimum reasons to go to the seller to ask for things between your accepted contract and closing. Keep a vigilant eye open for things like roof shingles that look like they're lifting, roof drain spouts that don't extend at least 5' from your house, grading issues that push water into your foundation, water marks anywhere in the house, polybutelene pipes throughout the house (look under the sinks), major cracks, doors or windows or locks that don't work. Run all the appliances including heat and air conditioning while you're looking at the house. Doing these simple things can save you a ton of money after you move in.

And be sure to set aside about $1,000 to $2,000 for the things you'll discover you need right after you move in: organizers for under-the-sink roducts, pull-out shelves for kitchen cabinets, drawer and shelf liners, plastic hangars, garden supplies, etc., etc., etc.

And good luck with your new house!

Answered 6 years ago by denverbuyerbroker




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