8 Things to Evaluate Before You Make a Home Offer
As a first-time home buyer, you need to consider a lot of things before you make an offer on a home. You need to move beyond whether the house looks like a great fit and take a hard look at the finer details of the house and whether buying the home fits your long-term goals.
Here are eight things to evaluate before you make an offer on a home.
#1: The Appliances
Home appliances aren’t cheap. A modest estimate would have you paying anywhere from $500 to $1,000 for a single unit. If the house needs all new appliances, will you have the cash to pay for them all after you make your monthly home loan payments and pay your other bills? You should not only consider the state of the appliances, but also which appliances come with the house. If the home is being lived in by the seller at the time of showing, it may appear to include appliances such as the refrigerator, washer, and dryer. Ask your realtor which appliances are included in the price so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised by a missing refrigerator on move-in day.
#2: The Windows
Even if the windows aren’t broken, you may want to consider replacing them if they’re visibly dated. The reason is not aesthetics but thermal radiation. Newer windows prevent the movement of heat (either inside or outside), which means you’ll pay much less over time for both heating and cooling.
#3: The Plumbing
Plumbing changed a lot over the course of the 20th century. Iron plumbing was used until the 1950s; copper lasted until about the 1980s; and PVC and PEX are the most recent piping innovations. As a general rule of thumb, you want PVC and PEX because they won’t rust or erode, are much less likely to burst, and there are currently no health concerns associated with them.
#4: The Roof
Shingles are advertised as having a lifespan of 30 years, but any roofer will tell you the number is closer to 20 if not below. Ask how old the roof is early on during the home buying process. Don’t think of it as a future problem you will easily be able to solve. If you know the house is going to need a new roof sooner than later, you can include that in your negotiations.
#5: The Foundation
A weak foundation can bring a whole house down. If there is an issue, it should come up in the home inspection. Foundational issues can often be fixed, but of course the price can vary dramatically depending on the extent of the damage. If it’s really bad, you should probably walk away.
#6: Time on Market
How long has the home sat on the housing market? A month? Six months? Over a year? Houses that have sat on the market for a long time usually have something wrong with them (which will most likely come up during the home inspection).
#7: The Neighborhood & School District
A good school and neighborhood can help propel your child to success. If your potential home is in an undesirable area or school district, it can affect more things than your home’s resale value.
#8: Your Long-Term Financial Goals
Before making an offer on a home, you need to make sure the cost of the home and other associated home ownership costs make sense for your long-term financial goals. Not only should you consider what you’ll be spending each month on mortgage payments and other monthly expenses, you should also be mindful of the various costs required to keep the home in good condition (yard maintenance, miscellaneous home repairs, etc.).
Considering all the costs of home ownership and the price of the home itself, will you still be able to save money for everything else you want to do in life? Or will buying a home stretch your budget to its max? Even if your budget cannot support the literal home of your dreams, there are plenty of ways you can match your budget to your perfect first home.
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