Fear factor | National Post

Buying a home can be a scary proposition — go in armed with the facts

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Buying a house can be a scary and overwhelming experience, especially if you are buying a house for the first time. It is the biggest purchase you will likely ever make. Buying a house shouldn’t be like playing Russian roulette. You should know that you are making a smart investment. Here are some tips if you are buying a home for the first time.


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Research your builder

This is an important first step for anyone buying a new home. A good builder cares about the vision you have for your new home and will make you feel comfortable with your purchase. You can never ask too many questions. This is likely the biggest purchase you will ever make, so stay as informed as possible. I recommend looking for a builder who invites 3rd party, unbiased inspectors to visit their builds during various staged of construction. This means any issues that are uncovered are fixed before the house is delivered to you. This is a builder who cares about what’s behind the walls.

Watch for “lipstick and mascara” work

If you see some patchwork repair jobs around the house, I would be concerned. Usually that’s a sign that the previous homeowner has tried to cover up an issue. Most first-time homebuyers don’t pick up on that. We all know it’s very easy to make a house look good on the surface, and you can hide a world of trouble behind the walls. Here is something I tell all first-time homebuyers — if you are looking at a house that’s been renovated, you can go to the city and find the permits on it. If there are no permits that means they didn’t hire a pro or they did the work themselves. This is usually an indication that the work wasn’t done properly. You may be looking at some costly repairs.


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Stay away from DIY jobs

First-time homebuyers tend to watch a few DIY videos, some renovation shows on TV, read a couple of articles and think they can take on electrical and plumbing work. Anything that has to do with the structural integrity or SAFETY of your home should be left in the capable hands of a professional. It’s going to cost you a lot more to have someone come in and fix the mess you have created. What you don’t see on TV shows is the team of contractors working behind the scenes, the hours spent planning and the cost of the materials. Renovations take a lot of time and skill.

Get a home inspection

You may be knowledgeable about construction but having a qualified home inspector do a thorough home inspection is something I always recommend. They can assess the major systems of your home and give you a better idea of what you are investing in. If you didn’t get one before you purchased the house, I recommend getting it after you have moved in. Getting an idea of the home’s condition is important in making renovation decisions.


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Budget for home maintenance and repairs

Think about all the repair jobs that need to be completed before or after you move in and make sure you have the money saved up for that. Do your research on what it will cost to maintain the home seasonally. I recommend doing a thorough maintenance check of your home every season. This is as simple as you going around your home and looking for things like broken caulking, mould, leaks and checking your smoke detectors. Look for a comprehensive home maintenance checklist from a reputable source online and be diligent about inspecting your home every season. You should set aside a small repair fund to help in case of emergencies.

Even if you were smart enough to get a professional home inspection done, there is no way to predict that your furnace may fail next year or a storm may damage your roof. Be prepared for these extra home ownership costs that may pop up.


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Focus on energy management

If a full smart home is not in your plans, you can take simple steps to reduce your energy bills. Start by installing a programmable thermostat. It is a great way to manage your energy bills. I also recommend setting timers on your lights and appliances to make your home more energy efficient. It doesn’t make sense to have power running on the appliances you are not using, right?

The housing market is crazy hot right now, so be careful and educate yourself as much as possible on home ownership. You won’t be able to predict everything but keep these tips in mind, do your research and you will be a much better prepared first-time homebuyer.

Listen to Mike’s new Holmes on Homes Podcast on all major streaming platforms.



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Amelia J. Bell

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