Buying a Home: Tips and Traps

Information and cautions on purchasing a new home.
Marketing, inspecting, walk-through and deficiencies.

For starters watch for deceptive advertising. They can nab you right at the start with words that may not mean what they seem to mean. Be cautious, and suspicious, as you would be in considering the purchase of any advertised expensive product for sale in today's marketplace. Your new home purchase is such a big investment and the process requires careful scrutiny. Before signing that contract, and before signing off your acceptance of this expensive product, do your homework.

Using a qualified building inspector is recommended for home purchases and should be your selection. An inspector selected by the agent may be biased towards a quick approval overlooking serious faults. However even if a professional is to be hired it would be very advantageous to do one or more self-inspections beforehand to check out details that someone experienced, perhaps in a hurry, might overlook. When you are asked to sign off your acceptance during the walk through, know that what needs fixing or replacing is done, and that it will not be done at your cost later.

The builder, contractor and agent are in the transaction to make money. Any clever or sly tricks they use to complete the sale might be disappointing or very costly to you. Business today is very competitive and too often conducted shrewdly for the benefit of making more money.

Before sale.
Slick ads and fast talk can give the wrong impression about the quality and value of the home that you are considering, resulting in serious regrets later. Glitzy eye pleasing brochures are designed to appeal and to sell these costly products. As with most promotions it is likely to contain some exaggerations, some of which may be serious and costly to the purchaser. There can be very carefully worded promises so as to fit the legal definition of truth. They might seem more like outright lies after the new owner moves in.

"Luxury Condo - You Deserve the Best." And maybe you do but this is not a promise to deliver.

"Minutes from the Beach" could be 55 minutes, or more. That handsome couple standing on the beach might have had some very heavy traffic to deal with and difficulty parking.

"Top Brand Name Appliances" may turn out to be just that, but they can be the very bottom of the popular manufacturer's product line.

Low strata fees for a new condo might sound attractively low for sales appeal and will require raising at the first general meeting.

Ask family, friends and others you trust for advice based on their experiences. Read all you can on buying a home, such an important transaction. Gather as much information about both the seller and the home. Don't rush, you would only be doing them a favor.

Read and understand any contract or legal document you are asked to sign, including and especially the fine print! Get a copy ahead of time and review it with others, professionals or experienced preferred.

Nearing that special moment - the Walk Through and occupancy.
The quality and completeness of the new home covers a very wide range of objects and workmanship and is where the greatest disappointments may lie. The walk-through is when the buyer tours the premises with the contractor or seller and is asked to approve the home. Deficiencies are noted and the buyer signs acceptance subject to these items being corrected. Many people aren't prepared for this and the process does not take much time. The short 30 minute walk-through can easily result in missing very costly discoveries until after occupancy. It may then be too late or difficult to correct, and at your cost.

If safe and permitted make several critical tours of your future home to become familiar with the work and to be prepared for the walk through.
Take along a pad, pen and checklist to note concerns and questions to ask.
Have a knowledgeable friend tag along to help find those deficiencies.
Carefully look for flaws, inferior work or product, and omissions.

Photos can come in handy for work that will be covered up.

For example pictures of all walls with the wiring and plumbing completed, but before drywall application, can be very useful. You may later wish to drill holes, attach objects or resolve a structural problem.

It is a permanent record of what lies hidden.

Self-inspections are easier for condos and finished home interiors as prospective owners will have a better idea of what they want and should expect.

A house exterior, driveway and yard are another matter but should be approached in a similar manner.

For the home interior the one page printable Interior Walkthrough Checklist should be helpful as a general guide. It may not be complete or suitable to your particular needs but should provide some suggestions about things to check that you normally might not think about. It is not meant to replace a professional inspection.

Check it out - The Interior Walkthrough Checklist - Print it out

Grampa Ken - Author of 32 Keys About Life and social issues blogger at Social-Fix.
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