What Buyer’s Should Look for in a Home
You’ve started looking for a home, and you may have even seen some in person, but other than the community, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the schools, do you know what you should be looking for? What questions to ask? A home is a BIG purchase and there are things that are important. A great real estate agent will guide you and ask all the important questions, but just in case you don’t have a good agent, here is what to look for and what to ask about to make sure that you are making a good wise purchase. Before putting in an offer, make sure you know the following:
•How old is the roof and in what condition? The roof is probably one of the most expensive home items to replace, and although they last a fairly long amount of time, depending on the roof type, knowing the age and condition of a roof can save you not just money in the replacement of the roof, but in insurance costs. In Florida with hurricanes, a well maintained roof is a necessity. An inspector will be able to look for leaks, missing tiles, and tell you the overall condition and age. Even if you are purchasing a condo, it is important to know the age and condition of the roof, in this case, another important question to ask is if the association has reserves for the roof replacement.
•Associations: Is there an association? Dues? Special Assessments? Does the home have a homeowner’s or condo association? If the home is a condo, the answer is yes, with single family homes and townhomes you always have to ask.
You need to find out how many associations there are? (Some communities have a homeowner’s association and a master association to cover other common areas.)
What is included in the fee? Some associations include water, trash, sewer, cable, internet, public facilities, and some just cover street and landscape maintenance.
Is there any ongoing or upcoming special assessment? Any upcoming or ongoing special assessment can really impact you financially. Having this knowledge can save you money in the long run. Special Assessments can be a sign that an association does not have the reserves to do a necessary project.
Reserves? Does the association have reserves in case of an emergency or to make necessary repairs or replacements? An association not having reserves, in the case of a condominium, can impact the amount of your down payment. Not having reserves can be a sign that an association is not financially healthy, this can be followed by special assessments.
Rules & Regulations: What are the by laws, rules and regulations that govern the association. What controls and powers do they have? Do they have an architectural review board? Can they tell you what colors you can or cannot paint your house, a specific fence type. Some associations are very hands on and strict, some are lenient, some only have minimal rules, some have a detailed list of do’s and do not’s. What type of community do you want to live in? Make sure it is a situation that suits your needs.
Other Memberships: Do you need to be a member of another association or club in order to live in the community? Is there an initiation fee? Annual Dues? Make sure there are no additional surprise fees.
CDD’s (Community Development Districts)/Special Tax Districts Is the home in a special taxing district? If so, how much is it annually and what are the expected annual increases/decreeases? How long is it for? These district were set up by developers in communities built since 2000. Instead of conveying the streets and lights to the cities or associations, the developers, through property tax bonds (The taxes paid annually by homeowners that live in the district), would get payments through bonds for the construction of the district, and the homeowners would in turn pay those bonds back over the years.
Property Taxes Depending on the time of year you purchase, you typically inherit the property taxes from the current owner in the first year. If you obtain a mortgage, your property taxes are typically escrowed, meaning you pay them with your homeowner’s insurance. The lender combines the taxes and insurances and divides that amount by 12 months. Knowing what current taxes are will help you know what your monthly number is.
Air Conditioning/Hot Water Heater/Appliances In South Florida, we use air conditioning 11.5 months out of the year, therefore age & condition is very important. How old is the interior & exterior air conditioning unit? Is it a good size for the home, does it cool well? What type of hot water heater is in the home, how efficient is it? The same goes for all of the appliances that are included in the sale. A great inspector will provide you a full report on all of their conditions, and some even give you a warranty.
What is included in the sale? Typically, ceiling fans, window treatments, and MOST appliances are included in a sale in Florida, but some are not automatically included. Did you love the washer and dryer in the home? It better be written into the contract, otherwise it isn’t technically included. Make sure to write down what you saw in the home that you loved as part of the offer to make sure it is included. An agent can find out if any specific items that are not a part of the sale.
Using a full time licensed Realtor can really make a difference in the process. Knowing all of the specifics and ins and outs, and what to look for, can save you time and money.
I would love to help you with any questions you might have. Be sure to contact me for help.