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Buying a house... [Updated pg 2]

SeñorAmorSeñorAmor !!!Registered User regular
edited October 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I've finally come to that time in my life when my wife and I are looking at buying our first home. Friends and family have been a big source of advice and help, but the more input I can get on such a huge event for the both of us, the better.

Any advice, fellow forumers? I'll take any suggestions, and even if it may seem obvious to you, it might not be to me. I've never done this before. :)

Thanks in advance.

SeñorAmor on
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    BelketreBelketre Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Decide on a price bracket you can afford, and then go and see a mortgage broker. These guys can save you tens of thousands by getting you the best deal possible from a lender. That can translate to several years less in repayments.

    Belketre on
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    DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Some more info would help: what market (area of the country/world) are you buying in, what's your price range, and what kind of house do you want? Are you looking for a condo? A townhome? A freestanding house?

    For example, if your budget is $300,000 and you want a detached house in Southern California, you're probably hosed, but that same $300,000 in Kansas or Minnesota will buy you a palace.

    DrFrylock on
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    SeñorAmorSeñorAmor !!! Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Live in central WI, and we're trying to stay under $130,000 (which is quite doable). Condos and the like are out of the question. We want our own freestanding home with a decent sized yard and 3 bedrooms (we'll eventually have kids -- might as well plan for them in our house).

    SeñorAmor on
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    DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Don't be in a rush. Biggest mistake you can make, really. I'm 18, but I own a block of land which I bought a couple months ago. I wish I hadn't rushed into buying it. Its a 500m2 block in *Area A* which is a fairly wealthy area. However, for the same price, I could have bought a 300m2 block in *Area B*.

    Bigger, better, right? Wrong.

    The value of land in Area B has increased by about 50% in the last TWO MONTHS, whereas Area A has only increased by about 5%. Still an increase, and I made about $10,000 on the value of the land, but still...I could have made so much more.

    Dhalphir on
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    zhen_roguezhen_rogue Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Home Buying for Dummies

    Personal Finance for Dummies

    As silly as it sounds, these two books read prior to your home purchase can and will save you a lot of money/time.
    Furthermore, you'll be exposed to all of the terminology, processes, pitfalls, etc. prior to getting involved.
    Consider them homebuying 101.

    Do yourself a favor, and grab these two books form your local library or used book store before even considering entering into a real estate contract.

    zhen_rogue on
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    Atlus ParkerAtlus Parker Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Look into what your state has to offer in the way of programs for first time homeowners. I know your neighbor, Minnesota, had some really awesome programs. If I didn't hate the state so much I'd almost consider transferring back there and live like a king.

    Atlus Parker on
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    SeñorAmorSeñorAmor !!! Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Good ideas so far. Keep 'em coming. :)

    I have to call our bank today to schedule an appointment for us to go in and get pre-qualified. Any suggestions on things to ask/say/not say?

    SeñorAmor on
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    brandotheninjamasterbrandotheninjamaster Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    20070622.jpg

    brandotheninjamaster on
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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    remember that your property tax will likely go up every year (least it does in my area) meaning you will have to pay slightly more each year you're there.

    also, adding $50 to each monthly payment will generaly shave off a few payments on a 30 year mortgage, so if you can swing it it's not a bad idea.

    also also, don't skimp when doing home improvements. Doing them right and spending the extra money then will save you in the long run.

    Xaquin on
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    SeñorAmorSeñorAmor !!! Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I haven't had too many loans in the past (and never a home loan), but if I can afford to pay extra each month, can I put that extra toward the loan principal itself and not the interest? It would seem that lenders would frown upon that, but I don't know.

    SeñorAmor on
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    brandotheninjamasterbrandotheninjamaster Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Sometimes depending on the lender they may have a penalty involved with paying off the loan early. Most people don't want to do that though. With taxes you make out like a bandit when you claim your house. In fact I know people who will take out home equity loans just to keep the payments going so they can maintain that claim.

    brandotheninjamaster on
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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    long reply, but i went through this not too long ago.

    if you can do it, put 20% down and get a 30 yr fixed-rate mortgage (or 20 yr if you can swing it). if you are stretching to get into a house and don't have much for down payment look here: http://www.fha.gov/buyer/loans.cfm don't bite off more monthly payment than you can chew, expenses crop up, and it sucks to be house poor.

    get a buyers agent, one that you trust, one that's not a newbie and has closed plenty of sales. this is a real estate agent that represents you. there's a shitpile of forms and paperwork.

    houses that have been on the market for awhile might have disgusted/motivated sellers. even if you think house is out of your range, make an offer, worst thing that happens is they say no, usually you'll get a counter-offer. and location, location, location, though cheesey, is true. get in the best neighborhood you can, even if the house is dumpy.

    get the house inspected (your agent should be able to recommend some) and talk to the inspector, go over the entire inspection report and have him/her show you any issues with the house. spendy house parts: roof, plumbing, electrical, HVAC and foundation.

    if there are issues you want resolved (damaged roof, foundation issues, infestation), do not have the seller be resposible for fixing them. get some estimates, and have all that be cash back on closing. then once you've closed use that money to get house fixed up (don't spend on shiny appliances :P ). this way you're in control of the repairs and not the seller.

    once you have a contract ready and financing setup and closing is approaching. have your agent give you final copy of all paperwork sent to you to read. there is a whole lot of it, and on closing day is going to be hectic and you will be signing dozens of times and initialling more, so you want time to look over it all.

    do the numbers to find out if there's a tax advantage for you. add up the yearly interest on the mortgage (this declines every year) plus your yearly property tax bill plus any other deductions you might have (sales tax is the only one I claim, i don't do any shenanigans on my taxes), if this is less than about $10K (or whatever the standard deduction for you and your wife) then you will see no tax benefit. for every dollar you go over the standard deduction, you get like 28-35 cents back. that's not precise, but it will give you an idea. even if your interest plus property taxes don't get you over the standard deduction, it will get you a lot of the way there. but don't get 100+K in debt just so the government will give you a few bucks that they ganked from your paycheck, buy for long-term appreciation.

    expect to spend money every year on the house just to maintain it, something is always broken or wearing out. wife will also probably want to paint, buy appliances/furniture, do curtains, etc.

    Djeet on
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    DiscGraceDiscGrace Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Can I ask what city/town in central Wisconsin you are looking to buy in?

    DiscGrace on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    SeñorAmorSeñorAmor !!! Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    DiscGrace wrote: »
    Can I ask what city/town in central Wisconsin you are looking to buy in?

    Fox Valley area. Oshkosh, Neenah/Menasha, maybe Appleton.

    SeñorAmor on
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    brandotheninjamasterbrandotheninjamaster Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    20070622.jpg

    I was kinda serious about this and not at the same time. Do your research, find out about your potential home. You don't wanna find out that home is on top an abandoned coal mine or something after you buy it, or haunted :P

    brandotheninjamaster on
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    DiscGraceDiscGrace Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    DiscGrace wrote: »
    Can I ask what city/town in central Wisconsin you are looking to buy in?

    Fox Valley area. Oshkosh, Neenah/Menasha, maybe Appleton.

    Oh yeah, $130,000 should get you something pretty good then, as long as you do plenty of looking about. Can't help you with real estate agents that far north, though (I know a couple of good ones in the Madison area.)

    DiscGrace on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    MadJyleMadJyle Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I just recently purchased a house, most important thing I found is have a good realtor. They're working for you, so if you ever feel they're not placing your interests above all others find another one. This was our first home as well, our realtor was extremely helpful in showing us all the ins and outs.

    The other thing is check your state for first time home buyer programs.

    MadJyle on
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    PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    First off - The housing bubble. Decide if your area is going to be ok for the next few years. In my area, now is a terrible time to buy a house.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_housing_bubble


    Second: how long are you going to stay where you are? use this dandy gaget from the NY times.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/10/business/2007_BUYRENT_GRAPHIC.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=login

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
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    kathoskathos Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Just a few suggestions:

    - Save up as much money as possible. So you can pay off as big of a chunk as you can as possible (if you need to hold off on the house for a few years it's better) because the more you pay for the house in the beginning, the less you have to pay the bank in interest (if you get a bank loan).

    - Try to get loans from your parents/uncles/aunts, you'll pay them back much less in interest (ex: they loan you 20k and you give them 25k back instead of paying off to the bank 30k+).

    - Buy out of town. I've seen people buy big nice houses with big yards for 250k, whilst the exact same IN the city (Toronto) would fetch for half a million. I know prices are different everywhere, but the reality is that out of town is cheaper for bigger.

    - If you choose out of town consider buying a hybrid. Or a car with REALLY good mileage (you can find this list easily on the internet). Living out of town will mean lots of driving.

    For AFTER you buy the house:

    - Don't sink money immediately in buying brand spanking new furniture. Just buy (or keep your old one) basic stuff like: matress (I don't about you, but sleeping on used matresses sucks), sofa (used sofa = bugs and shit, you never know) and carpets... basically anything upholstery related you should get new if you choose to.

    kathos on
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    LachesisLachesis Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Read every piece of paper before you sign it. Do not trust the "rundown" the lender will give you. READ IT. I work in servicing mortgages. There is nothing I hate hearing more than "I didn't know there was a pre-payment penalty so I shouldn't have to pay it!" Yeah. Here's the paper. With your damn signature on it.

    Remember to factor property taxes and insurance when you are deciding how much you can pay every month. People forget that the mortgage isn't the thing they have to pay. Just remember to budget accordingly. And if you think you can handle $130,000.00, do not let anyone pressure you into borrowing more. It will most likely just cause trouble later.

    It's exciting to get a new house. :) Just don't let that excitement go to your head and cause you to rush through the process.

    Disclaimer: I work in servicing sub-prime loans. So I'm probably a little bitter of all the crap that has come from them. haha.

    Lachesis on
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    PeekingDuckPeekingDuck __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2007
    Once you buy your house, always contest the annual tax appraisal. They will try and ream you each and every year. Most people don't fight back.

    PeekingDuck on
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    MorskittarMorskittar Lord Warlock Engineer SeattleRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Having bought a house in the past three months, it seems that lenders are getting really paranoid.

    I have solid credit and decent income (my wife less so, but not bad on the income side); our mortgage broker was great, but we had to fight tooth-and-nail for a 310k loan (read: small townhome in Seattle). The lender had us do things like pay off a forgotten and unknown $200 debt from 2001, display and prove every possible asset, and not have any withdrawals/deposits from any bank accounts for a week surrounding the loan approval.

    That last one seems pretty universal, though harsh; do not have any surprises or shift any money once the lender has visibility to accounts and funds. No gifts, no transfers, no nothing that hasn't been documented clearly for months ahead of time.

    Worth it in the end; we got a decent, proper, fixed rate and have a place. It would have been extremely stressful if our broker hadn't prepared us for all the hoops ahead of time.

    edit: that Times calculator is cool. Appreciation in my neighborhood in Seattle could drop by about 60% and the we'll be "caught up" in a few years. Of course, Microsoft and Boeing could stop doing well, and the whole thing will collapse spectacularly.

    Morskittar on
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    PeekingDuckPeekingDuck __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2007
    You're having to jump through all of those hoops because of all the sub-prime trash lenders out there. Congrats on your house, I know how stressful all that can be.:P

    PeekingDuck on
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    MorskittarMorskittar Lord Warlock Engineer SeattleRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    You're having to jump through all of those hoops because of all the sub-prime trash lenders out there. Congrats on your house, I know how stressful all that can be.:P

    Thanks. As difficult as it was, I don't begrudge the lenders. I'd do the same.

    How exactly does one contest yearly tax appraisals?

    Morskittar on
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    TreelootTreeloot Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    kathos wrote: »
    - Try to get loans from your parents/uncles/aunts, you'll pay them back much less in interest (ex: they loan you 20k and you give them 25k back instead of paying off to the bank 30k+).

    I've read it's a terrible idea to take out loans from family members.

    Treeloot on
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    Chief1138Chief1138 Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Treeloot wrote: »
    kathos wrote: »
    - Try to get loans from your parents/uncles/aunts, you'll pay them back much less in interest (ex: they loan you 20k and you give them 25k back instead of paying off to the bank 30k+).

    I've read it's a terrible idea to take out loans from family members.

    Not to mention, the average person rarely has that much money lying around.

    Chief1138 on
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    SnowconeSnowcone Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I didn't read the thread, but your smartest move is to keep your house payment at or below 26% of your take home monthly pay. That prevents you from being in a house that overloads your income. Here are a few more tips:

    1. Find a Mortgage Company that doesn't charge Loan Origination Fees, which are usually 1% of the loan. This is nothing more than prepaid interest. Many banks are moving away from this since it's a blatant rip off.

    2. Put as much money down as you can. Once you start looking at how little of your monthly payment actually goes towards principle you'll wish you'd put more down.

    3. Don't forget that you'll have other expenses after you get into the house such as furnishings, etc. Save up money for this and set a reasonable budget with your wife.

    4. Do the math on various types of loans. 95/5 and 80/15/5 with fixed rates are the only ones I'd recommend. The 80/15/5 is nice because once you pay the 15% off, your house payment drops. This works well if you have lots of extra money to throw at that second mortgage because its usually for a shorter term (15 years) and at a higher rate. In Texas if you don't have 20% equity in your home, you have to carry Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is a forced insurance policy for the bank. Going with an 80/15/5 made that go away for us. Talk to your local agent and mortgage expert and be informed.

    5. Usually buying down your rate with points is a waste. Do the math.

    6. Don't settle. Buying a house and moving is a big hassle. Find exactly what you are looking for and don't rush it. I've moved too many times and been unhappy because we were rushed into a situation due to outside circumstances. You can't be afraid to walk away and rethink the situation.

    7. Have fun. Being a homeowner is awesome.

    Snowcone on
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    SnowconeSnowcone Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Morskittar wrote: »
    You're having to jump through all of those hoops because of all the sub-prime trash lenders out there. Congrats on your house, I know how stressful all that can be.:P

    Thanks. As difficult as it was, I don't begrudge the lenders. I'd do the same.

    How exactly does one contest yearly tax appraisals?

    You should get a tax appraisal every year, I get mine in May, that lists your new appraised value. This value will be a value based purely on where you live and how big your house is. Nobody bothers to come out to the place and actually appraise it. There should be instructions on how to contest the value.

    Also, make sure to file for your homestead exemption as it lowers your taxes a little.

    Snowcone on
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    MorskittarMorskittar Lord Warlock Engineer SeattleRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Treeloot wrote: »
    kathos wrote: »
    - Try to get loans from your parents/uncles/aunts, you'll pay them back much less in interest (ex: they loan you 20k and you give them 25k back instead of paying off to the bank 30k+).

    I've read it's a terrible idea to take out loans from family members.

    It should be there well before a few months before you apply for the loan. If a lender, upon requesting a few months' records, sees tens of thousands of dollars just appear, they'll consider it a gift and you an unreliable borrower.

    Morskittar on
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    MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Morskittar wrote: »
    Treeloot wrote: »
    kathos wrote: »
    - Try to get loans from your parents/uncles/aunts, you'll pay them back much less in interest (ex: they loan you 20k and you give them 25k back instead of paying off to the bank 30k+).

    I've read it's a terrible idea to take out loans from family members.

    It should be there well before a few months before you apply for the loan. If a lender, upon requesting a few months' records, sees tens of thousands of dollars just appear, they'll consider it a gift and you an unreliable borrower.[/quote]

    Yes.

    I had a hella lot of trouble with my mortgage because I got money from my parents. It worked out in the end, but had to file a lot of extra paperwork and it definiely made it more of a hassle.

    MichaelLC on
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    SeñorAmorSeñorAmor !!! Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Ok, some updates. Talked to our financial institution and was pre-approved for a $125,000 home loan. We also found a couple houses we're interested in. What exactly should we be expecting as a next step? See tons of houses until we find one we really like and then have it inspected?

    How exactly does the inspection process work? I know we contract a state-licensed inspector to tear the house apart and report any minute detail. Is there anything that inspectors always find and we can ignore? Is there anything that may seem mundane but is really important?

    Again, thanks to everyone for their help. This is one purchase I don't want to fuck up.

    SeñorAmor on
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    NewtonNewton Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Ok, some updates. Talked to our financial institution and was pre-approved for a $125,000 home loan. We also found a couple houses we're interested in. What exactly should we be expecting as a next step? See tons of houses until we find one we really like and then have it inspected?

    How exactly does the inspection process work? I know we contract a state-licensed inspector to tear the house apart and report any minute detail. Is there anything that inspectors always find and we can ignore? Is there anything that may seem mundane but is really important?

    Again, thanks to everyone for their help. This is one purchase I don't want to fuck up.

    Look at a lot of houses to get an idea of what your money will get you. Take your time if you have to and don't rush into a house unless it is totally right for you. Once you find one you like, you make an offer to the sellers and put down your ernest money, usually $5000 that is held by a third party. Your offer is contigent on a satisfactory inspection. If the sellers accept your offer, you have a set amount of time to have the inspection done, so you should talk to your friends/family/coworkers to get recommendations on a good inspector before hand.

    Schedule the inspection for a time when at least you or your wife can be there, and preferably both of you. It is a lot easier to understand the inspection report if you are there for it instead of reading it and just seeing the pictures. Expect this to take about 3 hours for an average sized home. The inspector will be very detailed and tell you all problems with the house and whether they are major or just something minor.

    There will be problems with any house, no matter the age, and it is really up to you at that point to decide what to do about them. You can either ignore them and take the house as is, or you make a counter offer to the sellers stating if you want them to fix the problems or lower the price of the house or give you cash back at closing. If they problems are major (like sinking foundation, termite infestation, etc), you can back out of the sale and only loose the cost of the inspection. If you want to go through with the sale, the best options are to have them lower the price or give you cash back to fix an issues. If they fix the problems themselves, you may not be satisfied with the work they do or hire someone to do.

    Once you and the seller agree to terms, all that is left is signing your life away. The paperwork involved with buying a house makes a pile about 2 inches thick. Read all of it. Make sure you understand everything that you are signing and don't take what anyone tells you as the truth. They may be wrong or trying to rush you through the process and gloss over important details. All that matters in the end is what the papers you signed say, so make sure you know what that is.

    Newton on
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    zhen_roguezhen_rogue Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Ok, some updates. Talked to our financial institution and was pre-approved for a $125,000 home loan. We also found a couple houses we're interested in. What exactly should we be expecting as a next step? See tons of houses until we find one we really like and then have it inspected?

    How exactly does the inspection process work? I know we contract a state-licensed inspector to tear the house apart and report any minute detail. Is there anything that inspectors always find and we can ignore? Is there anything that may seem mundane but is really important?

    Again, thanks to everyone for their help. This is one purchase I don't want to fuck up.

    The "dummies" books I referenced on the first page answer all of these questions, in thorough detail.
    I still recommend you getting those from your library, or local used bookstore.
    You'll see sample inspection reports, things to ask for, things that cost extra, who pays for what, etc.

    zhen_rogue on
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    TashTash Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    DiscGrace wrote: »
    Can I ask what city/town in central Wisconsin you are looking to buy in?

    Fox Valley area. Oshkosh, Neenah/Menasha, maybe Appleton.

    Funny, I actually live in Oshkosh. :)


    Adashun Jones is really good and I highly suggest them.

    The amount of houses they are selling in the area is insane. Just driving to and from work I see no less then 20-30 houses for sale.

    Also, try to get a nice house on Lake Winnebago if you can afford it because the property value is going to skyrocket in that area as they're trying to build it up into a more "high-end" area instead of bunches of little rundown cottages.

    Tash on
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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    SeñorAmor wrote: »
    Ok, some updates. Talked to our financial institution and was pre-approved for a $125,000 home loan. We also found a couple houses we're interested in. What exactly should we be expecting as a next step? See tons of houses until we find one we really like and then have it inspected?

    How exactly does the inspection process work? I know we contract a state-licensed inspector to tear the house apart and report any minute detail. Is there anything that inspectors always find and we can ignore? Is there anything that may seem mundane but is really important?

    Again, thanks to everyone for their help. This is one purchase I don't want to fuck up.

    See a bunch of houses with your wife. When visiting homes with an agent look out for problem areas that you might specifically ask the home inspector about when that stage comes. Get an experienced inspector, with the housing boom a lot of people came into the housing-related workforce that are in-experienced or just shitty, your agent should be able to recommend one (maybe try angie's list?).

    Costly bits: roof, foundation, HVAC, plumbing and electric (you will want detailed info from the inspector on these items). You also want to know how old all the appliances are and what shape they're in (AC, furnace, water heater, fridge, etc.). You'll want to know how water flows on the ground round the house. Trim being not nice is not a big deal, but it could indicate other issues (foundation, water intrusion). There's usually a little water intrusion at a doorway or window somewhere, the inspector ought to be able to tell you if the damage is superficial. I don't know from slab foundations as I don't got one.

    Newton's advice is all good. Though I think $5K is a lot of earnest money, no doubt there are market factors to consider, but I only put $1K earnest down on a $200K house in '05, central texas. the home inspector's fees are out of pocket (they don't come out of earnest or closing costs). http://www.realestateabc.com/insights/deposit.htm

    Djeet on
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    PeekingDuckPeekingDuck __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2007
    5k is way too much for earnest money.

    PeekingDuck on
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    NewtonNewton Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    5k is way too much for earnest money.

    Maybe it is a regional/market thing. Our realtor said that was the usual amount and we also took a first time home buyers class and they gave the same figure. Houses around here are a lot more than $130,000, so I guess for that price range it does seem a bit high. With the way the housing market has been going lately, you might be able to get away without putting any earnest money down.

    Newton on
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    SnowconeSnowcone Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    5k is way too much for earnest money.

    Agreed. In fact, when buying an existing home I don't recall putting down any earnest money. I think that we paid the sellers something like $50 in good faith as part of the offer, but I don't recall anything above that. When buying a new home we put $500 down and in another case $1000, but that's about it.

    Snowcone on
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    embrikembrik Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Another hello from Madison :)

    For loans, PMI is generally a sucky thing. Do what you can to get a loan without it. (Basically, you pay more just in case you can't pay the mortgage down the road (insurance for the lender)). Also, check with the lender, but at least for the first few years, they will set aside part of each month's mortgage payment into an escrow account for use at the end of the year for property taxes. It's up to you whether you want to do that, but I do, and it's nice to know that the money is there without me having to keep extra money aside myself for tax time.

    embrik on
    "Damn you and your Daily Doubles, you brigand!"

    I don't believe it - I'm on my THIRD PS3, and my FIRST XBOX360. What the heck?
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    PeekingDuckPeekingDuck __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2007
    I didn't notice you are in Seattle. They are pretty good at fucking people up there in the housing market. I realize now that the problem is that other poster and I are both in Texas, where people and housing prices are still sane. Though there are a lot of california fucks moving into Austin these days. :)

    PeekingDuck on
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