We'll Take It!

Fatherly Wisdom to Heed Before Purchasing Your First Home

I've never seen myself as the home buyer type.  In fact for as long as I can remember I've always been fascinated by the idea of living in the moment--ready to hit the road and live off the land should my manly subprimal instincts stir me in my slumber and instruct me to migrate into the thicket with my wife and dog.  But alas, due to my genetic disposition to be deathly allergic to anything fishy or poision-ivy-y and the manly way I start to gag at the thought of skinning a woodland rodent, I resorted to proclaiming my lone wolf independence by refusing to sink permanent roots into any place in which my wife and I have lived since we've been married.  We are the generation of the Renter...and I was quite content in knowing I always had the option available to stick it to the landlord one month and nomad it all the way to Florida if the occasion called for it.

That all changed a few weeks ago, when in an eye-popping moment of realization our little family face-planted into the fact that our current job situation AND adoption process demands that we stay put for at least.......FOUR YEARS.  The resulting math was indisputable.  Option A: throw a substantially high 5-figure sum into the awaiting inferno that is a landlord's pocket, never to return; or Option B: buy something of our own to perhaps sell down the road at a profit.  

So it was then, my friends, with a nervous tick and hyper-paced heart that I reached for the phone to call the only home-buying expert I know to have successfully bought and sold over a dozen homes all around the country while dragging an ignorant, mamby-pamby sissy-boy son along for the ride--My Father.

The resulting conversation with my phenomenally wise padre ended simply with me holding the phone speechless and crushed under the weight of my own inadequacy as a husband and future father.  In 15 seconds the man had told me his Idiot's Guide to Home Buying and not a single one of his "common sense" scenarios had ever even begun to look both ways or press the crosswalk button on the far side of my mind.  Nonetheless, I felt better about the whole situation. Like I was now somehow walking into a Manly Life Achievement Test with some of the answers scribbled on a gum wrapper in my pocket. 

It therefore gives me great pleasure, dear readers, to pass this list of 21 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Home on to you.  I'm certainly no expert, but I can pass on some tips from someone who certainly is.  If you're like me and you find yourself walking around a plethora of empty houses with your wife and an all-smiles realtor anytime soon....make sure you've got these memorized or scratched on that aforementioned piece of gum wrapper.  Look and act like you're a blasted grown man and shock your wife as you take charge with questions like:

  1. Does the house look like it naturally belongs in the neighborhood?
  2. Does it blend in price and style with the surrounding houses?
  3. Why is the house on the market and how long has it been listed?
  4. In what condition are the appliances?
  5. Are there any damp patches inside or outside of the house? (damp patches could indicate something leaking)
  6. What are the normal heating and cooling costs?
  7. Is the house well insulated? (*get up in the attic and look on any house you are seriously considering purchasing)
  8. Also, in the attic look for light and leaks.
  9. Is the neighborhood a popular one? (If people are moving out of the neighborhood in droves, it may be starting to decline. Don’t buy the house even if it’s a good deal.)
  10. Look at comparable house that have sold in the area to compare if the price is in line with them.
  11. Look at the roof and shingles. Don’t buy a house with wooden shingles. If the shingles have a lot of black on them, it will probably need to be replaced soon. Ask how old the roof is.
  12. Flush every toilet, turn on every shower and sink faucets to see if they work and if they leak.
  13. Check the floors in all bathrooms and utility rooms (washer and dryer area) to look for evidence of past leaking or damage to the floor.
  14. Check the breaker box to see if all the breakers are marked as to what room or circuit they control. A well labeled box shows order in the electrical wiring.
  15. Check garage door to see if it opens easily and the remote opener works.
  16. Note where the hot water heater is. Does it have a drain and pan to prevent it from overflowing into the rest of the house if the hot water heater goes bad?
  17. Look for cracks in the brick and/or foundation. If there are some, it could be a sign of settling, which would require a foundation repair to re-sale and is expensive.
  18. Look at the drainage around the house.
  19. Look at the AC Unit and ensure it is not old and repainted. Turn on the AC and then the heat to ensure they are both working.
  20. Turn on the oven, the stove top, and dishwasher to ensure they all work.
  21. Look for signs of termites (i.e. tiny holes in wood, wrinkled wood, also appears rotten).

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to put this list to good use grilling my realtor.  Good luck to all of you who might be along the same Man Life Achievement path as I find myself.  Some great guest posts coming up soon!



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