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Home Buying Tips in Columbus, Ohio (1 of 4)

Frequently Asked Questions About Buying a Home

part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4

Andrew Show, Broker, National Educator and SpeakerHere is an Adobe Acrobat PDF file of the most frequently asked questions that home buyers have. You can read it online or save it to your computer or print it out for future review.
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Almost everything you’ve always wanted to know about buying a house but were afraid to ask!

When I start visiting homes, what should I be looking for the first time through?

The house you ultimately choose to call home will play a major role in your family’s life. A home can be an excellent investment, of course, but more importantly, it should fit the way you really live, with spaces and features that appeal to everyone in the family.

Is an older home as good a value as a new home?

It’s a matter of personal preference. Both new and older homes offer distinct advantages, depending upon your unique taste and lifestyle. New homes generally have more space in the rooms where today’s families do their living, like a family room or activity area. They’re usually easier to maintain, too. However, many homes built years ago offer more total space for the money, as well as larger yards. Taxes on some older homes may also be lower. Some people are charmed by the elegance of an older home but shy away because they’re concerned about potential maintenance costs. Consider a home warranty to get the peace of mind you deserve. A good Home Warranty plan protects you against unexpected repairs on many home systems and appliances for a full year or more after you move in.

Do I need to bring anything along when I’m looking at homes?

Bring your own notebook and pen for note taking and a flashlight for seeing enclosed areas. Be prepared to “snoop around” a little. After all, you want to know as much as possible about the home you buy. Sellers understand that because their home is on the market, it will be looked over pretty thoroughly. Don’t forget to bring along this Home Buyer’s Workbook as a reference guide when you are looking at homes. The pages in the back of the book allow you to make notes on specific homes, which will make it easier to remember the specifics about each home. If you need to go back to a home for another look, we will be happy to schedule an other viewing appointment. Be sure to ask any questions you have about the home, even if you feel you’re being nosy. You have a right to know. It’s important to know that the seller will supply the buyer with a Ohio Residential Property Disclosure, which is supposed to disclose any defects known by the seller.

“House Hunting Tips”

When you find a home you may be interested in buying, make sure we ask the owner the following questions:

What should I ask our consultant about each home that I look at?

As a rule of thumb, ask any questions you have about specific rooms, features or functions. Pay particular attention to areas that you feel could become “problem” areas—additions, defects, areas that have been repaired. And above all, if you don’t feel your question has been answered, ask until you do understand and are satisfied. In most cases, we will be able to provide you with detailed information.

What should I tell you about the homes I look at?

Tell us what you liked and didn’t like about each home you saw. It is important for us to really get a feel for what you’re looking for in a home in order to find your dream home. Don’t be shy about talking about a home’s shortcomings. Was the home perfect except for the carpeting? Let us k now that, too!

How many homes should I look at before I buy?

There is no set number of homes you should look at before you decide to make an offer on one. That’s why providing us with as many details as possible up front is so helpful. The perfect home may be waiting for you on your first visit. Even if it isn’t, the house-hunting process will help you get a feeling for the homes in the community and narrow your choices to a few homes that are worth a second look. You’ll be one house closer to “your” home!

If you’re looking in more than one community, try to make the most of each house-hunting trip. Stop by the local Chamber of Commerce to pick up promotional literature about the community. Or ask us for welcome kits, maps, and information about schools, churches, and recreational facilities. Also, be sure to take along a camera and snap some pictures of all the homes you like. That’ll make it easier to remember.

What should I think about when I’m deciding which community I want to live in?

Good city services, nice parks and playground facilities, convenient shopping and transportation, a track record of sound development and good planning—these are just a few considerations that are important to many people when they choose a community in which to live.

As for individual neighborhoods within a village or city, there is no better source of information than Buyer’s Resource Realty Services! We know the people and the communities we serve, and chances are, we can help you find a neighborhood that really fits your family’s needs.

Where can I get information about local schools?

Again, we are your best source. We know where the local schools are, and can provide you with valuable information about school districts, including test scores, extracurricular activities, bus service and more. If you’re relocating, we may even be able to put you in touch with teachers and principals when you visit the area.

How can I find out what homes are selling for in a given neighborhood?

Home sales are a matter of public record. The Auditor’s Office, a local residential appraiser, the planning department for the locality or the local Multiple Listing Service are all resources the buyer can call on. All can be searched for recent sale histories, sale prices (or average sales prices), time on the market and other listing information for sales in any given area.

However, a better and easier way for you to get this information is to ask us! If you’re interested in a particular home, we may be able to provide you with a list of comparables—sale prices of homes in your area that are roughly the same size and age as the home you’re considering. Although there will certainly be some differences between the homes—the house next door may have an extra bedroom, or the one down the block may be older than the one you’re looking at – it’s a good way to evaluate the seller’s asking price.

I’d like to have a professional look at the home before I buy it. What does a home inspector do?

For your own safety, and to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth in the home you choose, using a professional home inspector is highly recommended. A home inspector will check a home’s plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical systems, and look for structural problems, like a damp or leaky basement.

Usually, you call an inspector immediately after you are “In Contract” on a home. However, before you sign any written purchase offer, make sure that it includes an inspection clause or other language which says that your purchase obligation is contingent on the findings of a professional home inspector. Buyer’s Resource Realty Services purchase offers automatically contain this important verbiage.

Your home cannot “pass” or “fail” an inspection, and your inspector will not tell you whether he or she thinks the home is worth the money you are offering. They are not there to address “value”. The inspector’s job is to make you aware of repairs that are recommended or necessary.

A seller may be willing to renegotiate a price reduction to accommodate needed repairs, or you may decide that the home will take too much work and money. A professional inspection will help you make a clear-headed decision. In addition to the overall inspection, you may wish to have separate tests conducted to check for termites, or the presence of radon gas or mold . Talk to us for information about these tests and companies in the area that perform them.

In choosing a home inspector, consider one that has been certified as a qualified and experienced member by a trade association such as the National Association of Home Inspectors or the American Society of Home Inspectors. We will refer you to at least three qualified inspectors.

Should I be present during the inspection?

Yes. It’s not required, but it is very much to your advantage. You’ll be able to clearly understand the inspection report, and know exactly which areas need attention. Plus, you can get answers to many questions, tips for maintenance, and a lot of general information that will help you when you move into your new home. Most important, you’ll see the home through the eyes of an objective third party.

Remember the purpose of a home inspection is to help you learn things about the home that are not easily discoverable during your home-buying tour. The home inspection is NOT INTENDED to be a “Laundry List” of cosmetic issues or very minor repairs for Sellers to repair or replace . It is not intended to be a “weasel clause” to get out!

Do I need to talk to my insurance agent?

Yes, and the sooner, the better. Most insurance professionals have a lot of experience in working with homeowners and can offer useful tips about home ownership, particularly regarding home safety and keeping your premiums low.

Once you’ve found a home, work together to develop a homeowner’s policy that meets your individual insurance needs. You’ll need to supply your pre-paid policy to your mortgage lender prior to closing.

What’s “earnest money,” and how much do I need?

When you sign an offer to purchase, the seller will expect the offer to include earnest money – that is, money that shows you are serious about wanting to buy. Usually, you will be asked to write a check for an amount, established by you , made payable to “Buyer’s Resource Realty Services Trust Account”. If your offer is accepted, your earnest money will be held in our folder. Once all contractual contingencies are released the money will be deposited in a special non-interest bearing trust account. At closing it can be included as part of your down payment or returned to you . If your offer is not accepted, we ‘ll simply hold the check if you like, uncashed . But keep in mind that if you back out after all contingencies have been removed , you will forfeit the full amount.

Is there any way I can protect myself against emergency repair bills in my new home?

Yes. Home warranties offer you protection against many potentially costly problems not covered by your homeowner’s insurance. They’ve become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason: the coverage can save you thousands in the event of a major mechanical breakdown, at a time when your cash reserves may have been depleted by your down payment and moving expenses. Ask us whether a Home Warranty is offered when looking at homes. But remember, if it is not offered, feel free to ask for it when writing the offer to purchase. The Home Warranty will give you the peace of mind necessary to feel comfortable in your new home. In most cases, the warranty plan will cover appliances, hot water heater, air conditioning units, electrical systems, garage door openers, plumbing systems, heating systems, faucets, ceiling fans and water softeners. Check with us regarding the specifics of the Home Warranty plan!