Thursday, February 17, 2011

First Time Home Buyer? Here are 7 Tips to Avoid a Lemon

I was just reading the Real Estate page on and came across this article. As a recent first time homebuyer, I found this article on the 7 ways first-time homebuyers can avoid a lemon very interesting and helpful!

1. Check the foundation

A house's foundation is probably one of the most expensive things to fix, which is why you must go down to the basement before you even look at the rest of the house. Do you see any cracks in the concrete or stone? If so, the foundation might be structurally unsound. If the basement is finished, look for cracks in the drywall, especially around windows and doors.

2. Inspect the HVAC equipment

While you are down in the basement, look at the heating and cooling equipment. How old is it? Does it look like it's running properly? Are the vents connected well? These are important questions to answer to make your home energy-efficient and to reduce your utility bills. Replacing a home's HVAC system can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but many first-time buyers never give it a second look.

3. Look for water damage

If the house has had problems with water in the past, you're looking at several expensive fixes. First, one-time occurrences, such as a basement leak, can happen again. Second, that water damage could have opened the door for mold, especially dangerous black mold to grow. Look for brown or white stains down the side of the basement walls. These can indicate a past leak. If the floor is bare, look for horizontal stains.

Be suspicious if the basement has been painted recently. Sellers often do this to hide water damage stains. It's also important to check the bathroom and under the kitchen sink. Look for stains that would indicate mold growth.

4. Check the electrical system

If you are looking at a home built before the 1930's, it still might have old knob-and-tube wiring. It can be a problem, if it has been tampered with in any way. For example, if the attic has blown insulation sitting on top of knob-and-tube wiring, this is tampering- and it's a serious fire-safety hazard. Most insurance companies consider knob-and-tube wiring to be unsafe, so you're going to pay more or be turned down for homeowners insurance if you don't replace it. Replacing it means rewiring the entire house, which will cost tens of thousands of dollars.

5. Look at the house at least twice

Remember, when you first see that "perfect house," you're looking through rose-colored glasses. Always sit on the decision to make an offer and go see the house again a few days later.

6. Get a home inspection

This seems like old advice, but many people still don't get a home inspection before they make an offer. If the home inspector says more research is necessary or files an inconclusive report, get a second opinion.

7. Consider that if the price is too good to be true, it probably is

Trust your gut here. If your dream home's price is suspiciously low, there's probably a good reason. Remember, buying a house is a huge investment, especially if it is your first home.

There is a lot of knowledge and information that goes into purchasing a home, especially your first home. Make sure to consult with a knowledgeable real estate agent that can help you answer any questions that you may have. And when you purchase that new home, call CRS at 1-800-839-6683 and let us manage your move.