Home Buyer Information
What Really Matters
by Nick Gromicko
Buying a home?
The process can be stressful. A home inspection is supposed to give you
peace of mind, but often has the opposite effect. You will be asked to
absorb a lot of information in a short time. This often includes a
written report, a checklist, photographs, environmental reports, and
what the inspector himself says during the inspection. All this,
combined with the seller's disclosure and what you notice yourself,
makes the experience even more overwhelming. What should you do?
Relax. Most of your inspection will be maintenance
recommendations, life expectancies for various systems and components,
and minor imperfections. These are useful to know about. However, the
issues that really matter will fall into four categories:
1.major defects. An example of this would be a structural failure;
2.things that lead to major defects, such as a small roof-flashing leak, for example;
3.things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home; and
4.safety hazards, such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electrical panel.
Anything in these categories should be addressed. Often, a serious
problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property
(especially in categories 2 and 4).
Most sellers are
honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an
inspection. Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair
everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect. Keep things in
perspective. Do not kill your deal over things that do not matter. It
is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance,
conditions already listed on the seller's disclosure, or nit-picky
3 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid
Deadly Mistake #1: Thinking you can't afford it.
Today, buying the home of your dreams is easier than ever before.
Many people who thought that buying the home they wanted was simply
out of their reach are now enjoying a new lifestyle in their very own
Buying a home is the smartest financial
decision you will ever make. In fact, most American and Canadian
homeowners would be financially broke at retirement if it weren't for
one saving grace -- the equity in their home. Furthermore, mortgage
rates are more flexible today than ever and tax allowances favor home
Real estate values have always risen steadily.
Of course, there are peaks and valleys, but the long-term trend is a
consistent increase. This means that every month when you make a
mortgage payment, the amount that you owe on the home goes down and the
value typically increases. This owe less, worth more situation is
called equity build-up and is the reason you can't afford not to buy.
Even if you have little money for a down payment or credit
problems, chances are that you can still buy that new home. It just
comes down to knowing the right strategies, and working with the right
Deadly Mistake #2: Not hiring a buyer's agent to represent you.
Buying property is a complex and stressful task. In fact, it is
often the biggest single investment you will make in your lifetime. At
the same time, real estate transactions have become increasingly
complicated. New technology, laws, procedures, and competition from
other buyers require buyer agents to perform at an ever-increasing level
of competence and professionalism. For many homebuyers, the process
turns into a terrible, stressful ordeal. In addition, making the wrong
decisions can end up costing you thousands of dollars. It does not have
to be this way!
Work with a buyer's agent who has a keen
understanding of the real estate business and who is on your side.
Buyers' agents have a fiduciary duty to their clients. That means that
your buyer's agent is loyal to only you and is obligated to look out for
your best interests. A buyer's agent can help you find the best home,
the best lender and the best inspector. Best of all, in most cases, the
buyer's agent is paid out of the seller's commission, even though
he/she works for you.
Trying to buy a home without an agent at all is, well... unthinkable.
Deadly Mistake #3: Getting a cheap inspection.
Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will
ever make. This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection. The cost of
a home inspection is very small relative to the value of the home being
inspected. The additional cost of hiring a certified inspector is
almost insignificant. As a home buyer, you have recently been crunching
the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for
mortgages, and trying to get the best deals. Do not stop now. Do not
let your real estate agent, a "patty-cake" inspector, or anyone else
talk you into skimping here.
InterNACHI front-ends its
membership requirements. InterNACHI turns down more than half the
inspectors who want to join because they can't fulfill the membership
InterNACHI-certified inspectors perform the
best inspections by far. InterNACHI-certified inspectors earn their
fees many times over. They do more, they deserve more, and, yes -- they
generally charge a little more. Do yourself a favor, and pay a little
more for the quality inspection you deserve.