Things to do before buying a new house

You know that feeling when you lock eyes with a special someone and you know it's just meant to be. Sure, you don't know if you actually have anything in common, but the butterflies in your stomach don't lie!

Actually, as we all know, those butterflies DO lie. And if you're in the market to buy a home, you should never succumb to this love-at-first-sight syndrome.

In fact, according to Nick Jabbour, vice president of Nest Seekers International, while it is easy to walk into a home and fall in love, you should visit at least five properties before signing any contracts. After all, the last thing you want is buyer's remorse after investing in a home.

So what's the solution? Rather than making your decision based solely on emotions (I'll allow you to have a few; I'm not completely heartless), you should gather as much information as possible about each property you visit. 

To make it easier, we've created a checklist of points you need to know before deciding which house is the best investment.

How Long Has the Property Been For Sale?

You should ask your real estate agent how long the home has been on the market. Robert Irwin, author of Tips and Traps When Negotiating Real Estate, says that if a home has been on the market for an extended period without a single offer, the market could be slow or the home may be overpriced.

Use Comparisons to Determine the Value of the Home

A real estate agent cannot tell you the amount you should offer on a home. Instead, you should request to see sales that are comparable to the home you are considering.

Find Out Detailed Information about the Area

You can find a wealth of information on online about crime statistics, home values and the average income level of an area. Also, take a drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night. How far is the home from your place of employment? Is it a feasible commute?

What Effect Will Moving Have on Your Insurance Needs?

Because you are moving to a larger, more expensive home, your insurance needs will increase to compensate the additional property. This is something that you need to consider before purchasing the home. One of the best ways to estimate your insurance costs is to use an insurance cost calculator.

Get a Home Inspection

Once you are about to make an offer get a home inspection. If the home has already had an inspection, ask to see it and read it carefully. Make notes of anything that concerns you and speak to the owner about it before making your offer.

Some of the issues a home inspector can spot include problems with:

  • Foundations
  • Plumbing
  • Wiring
  • Roofing
  • Insulation
  • Termite Infestation

Ask if there is a Homeowners Association (HOA)

If there is an HOA, you need to request a copy of the rules and regulations. Some HOAs only allow specific types of fencing, shed designs and, if you own an RV, the HOA may not allow you to store it on your property. Be sure to read the rules and regulations thoroughly. You also should inquire as to yearly dues.

Don't Forget the Final Walk-Through

On your final walk-through, make sure that the owner has completed any agreed upon repairs. Now is the time to check all the little things:

  • Turn light switches on/off.
  • Flush the toilets.
  • Turn faucets on/off.
  • Open/close all the windows and doors.
  • Test the garage doors.
  • Check appliances.
  • Turn the furnace on.
  • Turn the air conditioner on.
  • Inspect the grounds and look for any missing trees or shrubs. Some owners decide to take certain plants with them.

Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.