Now it's time to start visiting houses. Here's a list of items you will need:
- A camera—still, video, or both.
- An evaluation checklist. Print and use this one page home-shopping checklist from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or this three-page house hunting worksheet from Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation). Use a separate checklist for each house.
- Something on which to take notes, such as a notepad, handheld computer, or notebook computer.
What should you look for when touring a home?
- How well maintained is it—both inside and out?
- How well does it fit your needs/wants list?
- Are there any showstoppers—conditions that can't be remedied or you can't live with?
- Check out the number of electrical outlets in each room. Also check out the phone jacks, and cable TV outlets.
- Is there sufficient closet and other storage space?
- How noisy is it? Can you hear from room to room?
- Check the water pressure, particularly on upper floors.
Here are some questions that you should ask. Use your checklist to come up with additional questions.
- What utilities do they pay and what are their costs? For example, water/sewer, electricity, gas, oil, propane, garbage collection, etc. Ask to see the bills for a full year.
- Any energy saving features?
- Are there homeowner association or condo fees? If so, what are they? Paid monthly or annually?
- What are the maintenance costs?
- What defects does the home have? Any major repairs or renovations? By whom?
- Are there any pest control problems?
- What fixtures and appliances are part of the sale? For example, drapes, blinds, the dining room chandelier, refrigerator, etc.
- Any transferable warranties?
- Why are they selling?
- How quiet is the neighborhood? Noisy neighbors? Airport flight-path? Recreation areas, such as ball fields, fair grounds, or other gathering places nearby?
- Has the home ever suffered any damage? What kind? Have they filed insurance claims on the damage? Do they have a CLUE loss claim report for the property?
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. Think about your current residence to come up with more questions. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it?
When you've found a house that fits your budget, your needs, and your tastes, it's probably time to make an offer.
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