Top 15 things to know while house hunting

Before you buy a home, there are countless things you should know about the home you are considering before you make an offer to buy it. Here is a list of the top 15 things to know before you buy: Price: Of course, the price is the first thing you‘

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  • Before you buy a home, there are countless things you should know about the home you are considering before you make an offer to buy it. Here is a list of the top 15 things to know before you buy:

  • Price

  • Of course, the price is the first thing you‘ll want to know, but be sure you put that in the context of knowing the values of the homes nearby. Be cautious about buying the most expensive home in your neighborhood. Zillow provides a free and easy way to check this out.

  • Commute

  • Be sure you know how far your new home is from your employment before you buy it. Try the drive during rush hour if you have any question about what that would be like.

  • Age

  • Be sure you know the age of the house. That may give you a good indication of when you should expect to have to replace the roof, plumbing and appliances.

  • Schools

  • Even if you don’t have children now, be sure to check out the schools. Either you or the next owners are likely to care about the schools someday.

  • House of worship

  • If you are a church goer, add the location of the nearest church, synagogue, temple or mosque to your list of things to check out.

  • Accessibility

  • No matter how young you are, you are never too young to think about how you would get around the house in a wheel chair. You never know when an accident or illness will make stairs difficult or impossible. With an aging population, it is likely the eventual buyers of your home will be interested in this, even if you are not.

  • Included items

  • Be specific when writing the contract to clarify which appliances and decorations are included. If you love the drapes — or simply don’t have the budget for replacing them — you don’t want to walk in on moving day and find them gone.

  • Water damage

  • Do a thorough check for any evidence of water damage in the home. Some homes, even in dry climates, have perpetual problems with water seeping into basements. Solving this problem can be overwhelmingly expensive.

  • Public transit

  • Just in case you ever want to take the bus or train to work, check the distance to the nearest public transit stop. Optimally, it should be walkable.

  • Parks

  • Parks not only add value to your home they improve the neighborhood and your lifestyle in myriad ways. Check out the location and condition of local public parks and the distance from the home.

  • Shopping

  • One of the most frequent trips you’ll make will be to the grocery store. Make the drive — or better yet, walk to the store — to get a sense of the distance.

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  • Electrical

  • As a quick, preliminary check of the outlets in the home, bring your plug-in phone charger and pop it into the outlets with your phone to be sure that all the outlets work. Be sure to flip all of the lights on and off to check for problems.

  • Sprinklers

  • If your home has a yard, be sure to thoroughly test the sprinkler system. An upgrade can be expensive. New systems all operate on timers, but if you are looking in an older neighborhood, or a place with lots of rain, the sprinkler system may not be up to the standards you expect.

  • Recreation

  • If you are an avid golfer, cyclist, runner or whatever you might do outside, be sure to check the neighborhood for facilities that support your favorite activity.

  • Inspection

  • You absolutely should get a professional inspection. Although professional standards are developing, be aware that even with an inspection, issues may arise — issues you could have discovered. Interview the sellers yourself — thoroughly — about the home. Make your own inspection before closing.

  • By knowing these things before you buy a home, you can avoid some of the most painful mistakes.

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Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.


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