Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

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Blue456
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Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Blue456 »

We are looking for our first house. What are some things that I should be aware of? What to look out for? I don't want to just google this as I find this community in general more knowledgable.
junejune0605
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by junejune0605 »

Always get an inspection. Depending on the age/location of the home, you may need specialized inspections such as sewage, wood destroying organisms, etc. inspected.
McCharley
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by McCharley »

Buy the neighborhood, not the house.

I know so many people who settled for a godawful commute in order to get a giant house.

And I know people who moved into a neighborhood that is genuinely unsafe because they wanted something new.

If you can buy something that needs a bit of work you can save a great deal of money.

Houses built on speculation typically are constructed with the cheapest of everything from outlets to doors.

Before buying the house, walk around the neighborhood and talk to the neighbors.
livesoft
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by livesoft »

Just the usual things:
livesoft wrote: Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:02 pm Here is my home location criteria published many times on this forum:
livesoft wrote: Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:34 pm I wrote about it previously:
livesoft wrote:A list from a previous thread ….
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 24#p818024
livesoft wrote:When we started looking to buy, we went to library and checked out the books. It was pretty straightforward. I would not buy a book unless it was in the $1 rack at the used book store.

And the idea of "evaluating windows" is kind of silly. Here's my criteria when I was looking for a home.

1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning.
2. Good schools.
3. Within 3 miles of my office.
4. Short walk from a water features like a pond or lake.
5. No tile countertops.
6. No bathroom doors visible from a seated position in any public room like den, kitchen, living room, game room, study, etc.
7. 4 bedrooms, at least 3 bathrooms.
8. Brick exterior, not stucco, not wood.
9. No major street within 2 blocks. (i.e. Interior cul-de-sac).
10. No chance of flooding, so must be on a ridge or high ground with good drainage even during a hurricane.

Surprisingly, these criteria eliminate about 98% of homes, so if the realtor is doing their job, you won't have to look at more than 1 or 2 homes. Notice that except for the countertop thing, there is nothing special about windows, insulation, appliances, etc. Those are small things that you can change. You can't change location and add a large pond or good schools where none exist.
In addition, (some are redundant):

11. Not on a corner (same as #1).
12. If street has street lights, at the street light (free security lighting).
13. 3 ways out of the neighborhood (in case fallen trees block the roads).
14. Cannot hear any highway noise nor noise of major traffic arteries.
15. Nice walking possibilities for the dog; nice running/biking loops in several directions for you.
16. Consider site plan: Deciduous trees on south side to shield from sun in summer, open views on north side.
17. No nuisances (no electric wires, power lines. No visible water towers, cell phone towers, billboards, sewage treatment plants.)
18. Walk to schools (see #2).
19. Walk/bike to nearby grocery store, restaurants, drugstores, doctors, dentists (but not so close that one gets any noise or traffic in the neighborhood).
20. Home is offset from next door homes, so that windows do not face neighbors' windows, patios do not directly face neighors' patios.

And I agree with awval999, price-per-sq-ft is a good criteria, but once narrowed to a neighborhood the list I presented might help.
I'll add two more criteria from recent bogleheads threads:

N1. Water heaters should be located very near (such as above) critical bathroom showers and kitchens, so that one does not have to wait for hot water. Two heaters are better than one for redundancy.

N2. Washer/dryer in the laundry room should be located conveniently on the same floor as the master bedroom, but not so close as to allow noise in the bedroom. A good location is between the kitchen or mud room and the dining room. That way the dining room can be used for dumping/folding clothes from the dryer. Of course, one of the hot water heaters should be above the laundry room.
If you tell your buyer's agent not to show you any house that doesn't meet the specific location requirements, that'll speed things up and they won't waste your time. I only looked inside 2 homes in the course of 5 months. The first one I was tricked by my spouse; the second one we bought.
BolderBoy wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:30 am To livesoft's list:

Not on the arrival or departure routes for a major airport!

Not within 10 miles of a railroad track.
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livesoft
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by livesoft »

Blue456 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:21 pm .... I don't want to just google this as I find this community in general more knowledgable.
One can restrict google search to this community by adding site:bogleheads.org to your search term.
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sport
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by sport »

This is very old and trite, but true. When buying a house, there are three things to consider: Location, Location, Location
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Blue456
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Blue456 »

McCharley wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:23 pm

Houses built on speculation typically are constructed with the cheapest of everything from outlets to doors.
So you wouldn't buy a brand new house?
poker27
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by poker27 »

Buy something in the middle of your $ range. You don’t want to be stretched too thin, but you also don’t want to be unhappy or want to move in 2 years. Save some $ up and do any renovations before you move in. Makes life so much easier.
Equitius
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Equitius »

.....
Last edited by Equitius on Sun Jan 24, 2021 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cruise
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Cruise »

OP: Buy only enough house that you can afford on one income. One never knows when recessions and downsizing may strike a family. This was the metric we used, and while we never suffered from a job loss, we did see our investment accounts grow. :)
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Bogle7
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Yes, I do

Post by Bogle7 »

Blue456 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:56 pmSo you wouldn't buy a brand new house?
I have owned 3 new and 2 used houses.
In my opinion, the ideal age is 3-5 years old for 2 reasons:
1. You get modern/current design.
2. The teething problems have been resolved/fixed.

For example, my daughter's house was built in 1994. It has 5 levels (basement to story 2.5) for only 2600 sqft. It is very choppy and would never be built today.

For example, in 1980 I bought a brand new house in Colorado Springs. Within 24 months the builder's insurance company was paying to replace 400 concrete basement floors, driveways, sidewalks, garage floors, and patios because the Medema Homes (who did a BK) ignored the expansive soil report.

We bought our current house new in 2011 and the components are of fair to excellent quality. But, our builder was only doing 2 houses at a time. However, we did get to spend $4K to fix the sump pump issue.
Last edited by Bogle7 on Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Blue456
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Blue456 »

Cruise wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:18 pm OP: Buy only enough house that you can afford on one income. One never knows when recessions and downsizing may strike a family. This was the metric we used, and while we never suffered from a job loss, we did see our investment accounts grow. :)
+1, that it our goal.
sport
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by sport »

Blue456 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:56 pm
McCharley wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:23 pm

Houses built on speculation typically are constructed with the cheapest of everything from outlets to doors.
So you wouldn't buy a brand new house?
It depends on the situation. We bought a new house that was part of a development with all the houses built by the same builder. We were able to see finished houses and houses under construction. As best we could tell, there was an effort by the builder to do things properly. We had looked at another development under construction. Although we are certainly not experts, it was easy to see that things were done carelessly. It is also helpful to talk with current residents of a development, or other houses built by that builder. We have been in our new house for 15 years, and we have been happy with it.
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Voltaire2.0
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Voltaire2.0 »

Blue456 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:56 pm
McCharley wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:23 pm

Houses built on speculation typically are constructed with the cheapest of everything from outlets to doors.
So you wouldn't buy a brand new house?
I've bought four new spec houses. One did go cheap on carpets, paint and subcontractors (i.e., work quality). The other three did not. A sweeping generalization is little better than a guess. BTW, all four houses were/are fine.
NYCaviator
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by NYCaviator »

First, get a good realtor. If they ask "how much were you approved for" and only show you houses at the top of your budget, stop and move on.

Second, I'd be hesitant about buying into this market. I know we can't predict the future, but home prices have increased exponentially while wages are stagnant. Common sense says this is not sustainable. Most families in the US don't make enough money to *safely* afford a $500k+ home, and that is what the average price is in a lot of metro areas. I think once the eviction moratorium lifts, there are going to be a LOT of motivated sellers who thought rental properties were a great idea pre-COVID. We have not yet seen the full economic ramifications of this pandemic.

Third, buy less than you can afford, you'll thank yourself later. Many people stuck at home during the pandemic have convinced themselves that they need a 6,000 sq ft home, and saddled themselves with massive debt (which has also contributed to the rise in home prices). Once things open back up, I have a feeling a lot of those people will seriously regret their decision when they can't afford to go on vacation because all of their money goes towards the mortgage. :wink:
H-Town
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by H-Town »

If you’re 20s something and just start out your career, don’t be house poor. If you’re 30s or 40s something with at least a decade of decent savings and investing, then you can look for house that may be considered desirable by many people (because they won’t come cheap).

If you’re in location that have hot summer, look for houses that have big trees to provide shade.

If you’re close to the water of Gulf Coast or East Coast, think twice. Dealing with hurricane is a way of life here.

If you live in a big city and don’t mind commuting, you can save a lot of money by living in suburban area.

Always, always, always run an amortization table for your mortgage. Understand the total amount you pay out over 30 years. For a $500k house, the total amount of payments could get up to $1M+ over 30 years.
oldfort
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by oldfort »

Be realistic about what you can get within your budget and be willing to make tradeoffs. Most people can't get everything they want in their budget, although a dual physician income should help.
H-Town
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by H-Town »

Don't forget to look up first home buyer credit. Maybe hold out on buying until you get clearer picture on whether the new administration would push through the new home buyer credit?

https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/ ... -deduction
jebmke
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by jebmke »

Don't let emotions get in the way -- don't get so attached to one that you lose perspective. It is just a house.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
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tennisplyr
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by tennisplyr »

Make sure you get an inspection (we paid for ours), you can use this as a negotiation tool. Make sure you are aware of things like gas vs. oil vs electric; type of sewage; age of appliances, etc. We had a need to have monthly housing costs be no more than one wage earner could carry...I was 30 when I bought in NY. Back then, they advised that you don't want to be the nicest house on the block. Good luck!
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.
tibbitts
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by tibbitts »

H-Town wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 7:34 pm If you’re in location that have hot summer, look for houses that have big trees to provide shade.
I would look for a new house with tech that will make up for not having shade from trees that sooner or later will fall on your house. Keep trees away from the house and shorter than can reach it (or anything else important) if they fall down.
tibbitts
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by tibbitts »

McCharley wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:23 pm If you can buy something that needs a bit of work you can save a great deal of money.
I would say the opposite: buy a new house. You can't save any money by paying someone retail labor rates to do repairs on your house. If you have the skills and inclination to do home-repair work yourself, go into the home-repair business. It can be a home-based business you run from your brand-new maintenance-free house.
retire57
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by retire57 »

1. Figure out how much $ you'll need for annual repairs and maintenance. Then double it.

2. Figure out how much $ you'll need for tools, window coverings, area rugs, and furniture. Then double it.
H-Town
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by H-Town »

tibbitts wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:10 pm
H-Town wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 7:34 pm If you’re in location that have hot summer, look for houses that have big trees to provide shade.
I would look for a new house with tech that will make up for not having shade from trees that sooner or later will fall on your house. Keep trees away from the house and shorter than can reach it (or anything else important) if they fall down.
I live in areas that we have major hurricane every decade or so. I appreciate your concern about trees falling on your house. But it can be mitigated by having the trees routinely inspected and maintained.

On the other hand, I can't imagine to live in a house with no shades whatsoever. It'd be boiling hot during summer without shade. What kind of tech that would make up for not having shade? Serious question. I'd imagine you would have to pay $500 plus per month on electric bill.
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Dottie57 »

Blue456 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:56 pm
McCharley wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:23 pm

Houses built on speculation typically are constructed with the cheapest of everything from outlets to doors.
So you wouldn't buy a brand new house?
Just realize brand new doesn’t mean problem free.
alfaspider
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by alfaspider »

1) Make sure you keep an extra cushion of liquidity post purchase. It's easy to get nickled and dimed post-purchase with things like furniture, repainting rooms, drapes, and moving costs. If making the downpayment takes away all of your cash, you may feel very financially strained immediately post-purchase. You'll need even more of a cushion if you plan on doing any renovations- even relatively minor ones can easily go over budget.

2) Strategize both short and long term. Can you get a plausible "forever house" or is this something for the next 5-10 years. It's usually better to rent if you can't stick around for at least 5-7 years.

3) Keep an eye towards maintenance costs. They can be bigger than you think and add up. If you aren't handy and/or don't have time to DIY anything, it will be more expensive. Get recommendations for good plumbers/electricians/handymen, etc. in case you need one.

4) Pay attention to quality of materials workmanship. You can fix discrete items that break, but you can't easily remediate the whole house being built poorly. Attics are often a good place to check framing quality. Pay attention to the quality of the large mechanical items (HVAC/Water Heater, etc.)

5) It's generally better to pay for location over paying for more house. The house itself is likely to depreciate, it's the land that appreciates. Picking land is a bit like picking stocks- there are growth, value, and blue chip neighborhoods. Personally, I'd spend more for blue chip, especially if schools are a consideration. My house is scarcely worth more than lot value. That gives comfort that my investment is safe regardless of what happens to the house.

6) A personal choice, but I'd almost always shy away from new construction. Like a car, a house is only new once and thus you are likely to lose money if you have to sell soon after buying. Remember, it's the land that appreciates- not the house. Plus a new build can have teething issues like roof/window leaks that are only apparent in a downpour.

7) Evaluate natural disaster risks unique to your location. Keep in mind that floodplain maps can be wrong/out of date. Ask neighbors about their experiences. Did houses almost take on water during the last storm? Does the snow plow have a hard time getting to the street?
alfaspider
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by alfaspider »

H-Town wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:27 pm
tibbitts wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:10 pm
H-Town wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 7:34 pm If you’re in location that have hot summer, look for houses that have big trees to provide shade.
I would look for a new house with tech that will make up for not having shade from trees that sooner or later will fall on your house. Keep trees away from the house and shorter than can reach it (or anything else important) if they fall down.
I live in areas that we have major hurricane every decade or so. I appreciate your concern about trees falling on your house. But it can be mitigated by having the trees routinely inspected and maintained.

On the other hand, I can't imagine to live in a house with no shades whatsoever. It'd be boiling hot during summer without shade. What kind of tech that would make up for not having shade? Serious question. I'd imagine you would have to pay $500 plus per month on electric bill.
It's a balance, to be sure. I will take some risk of falling trees in a storm to keep good shade. You can mitigate tree risk by trimming overhanging branches and making sure the trees are in good health. Some species are more likely to fall than others. Climate obviously plays a key issue. Houston may have hurricanes every decade or so, but oppressive summers happen every year.
GG1273
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by GG1273 »

Inspection was mentioned

Thinking back on it, I would have had a 2nd one done and maybe a once over by a construction person as well. Found that the one we had used missed a lot.
jt90505
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by jt90505 »

I'd be very careful about a house that has been flipped. It will look good and most probably pass inspection, but...there is a probability the flippers did the work themselves using low end everything. House down the street was flipped; the new owners had an endless parade of workers come in to redo (undo?) what was bought.
alfaspider
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by alfaspider »

GG1273 wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:49 pm Inspection was mentioned

Thinking back on it, I would have had a 2nd one done and maybe a once over by a construction person as well. Found that the one we had used missed a lot.
I'm not say you shouldn't do an inspection, but there are limits to what inspectors can find. I find a lot of them just check off minor code violations (items that were in code when built but don't conform to current code), take some photos, and call it a day. But if you do happen across something big, it can give you a lot of negotiating power.
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by sport »

When we bought our new house, I noted that the builder used Carrier HVAC, Andersen Windows, and Moen Faucets. That gave me some confidence that he was trying to do things properly rather than trying to get away cheaply. We also had the ability to select plumbing, flooring, electrical, cabinets, counters, etc. at builder's prices, including upgrades.
Random Poster
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Re: Yes, I do

Post by Random Poster »

Bogle7 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:36 pm
Blue456 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:56 pmSo you wouldn't buy a brand new house?
I have owned 3 new and 2 used houses.
In my opinion, the ideal age is 3-5 years old for 2 reasons:
1. You get modern/current design.
2. The teething problems have been resolved/fixed.
Seems like this strategy would only work once, inasmuch if you a buy a 3-5 year old house, chances are it won’t be that when you sell it.

And if buyers subscribe to your opinion, how is the seller going to be able to sell their house easily? Presumably there will be plenty of other houses for sell too, and some of them will be in your preferred age range.
Alf 101
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Alf 101 »

If I wanted just to be succinct, my advice would be -- Good luck! This can be a process with some stress.

My first advice is to prepare to do more work than your realtor. Develop your criteria (e.g., # of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, location, yard) and search online. I would plan on driving by the ones that look most promising before contacting your realtor for a visit. The pictures in a listing are most often quite nice, so some added context is helpful.

We also attended a bunch of open houses in our target area. It was easy, and it gave us an idea of valuations, and helped us think about what we liked and did not. You may notice that the house was flipped and the kitchen looks great, but every single window in the house needs to be replaced, there's no storage, and not a single screw looks to have gone in straight.

When looking at a house, there are things you can fix. No place is perfect. Painting is easy, as is changing out an appliance, or remodeling a bathroom. Here are places you can add value. If the location is bad, if it's too small, if the layout makes no sense, you can't fix that. You will need to stick with what you afford however, likely making your first home more modest. Foundation issues, mold, and water damage were my three red flags. Our current house has "good bones" and is a good location, but the sellers hadn't painted anything, and there was an upstairs bathroom that looked like it was finished by a Cub Scout troop. We saw these as value opportunities.

I agree 100% to get an inspection. If it costs extra to get a more extensive inspection -- that may include the chimney, septic, well, etc. -- that's worth it. I would advise not getting too ticky-tack with what you ask for in your offer. If the roof needs work, and arsenic levels are high in your drinking water, those are reasonable asks.

Ask around and see if you can get a great realtor, not just a good one. There have been a number of posts on this site regarding realtor frustrations. We have been lucky in that regard.

Lastly, you will get approved for a loan. We have never bought a house priced anywhere near that approved amount. You will need to furnish the place, perform maintenance and fix things, and make improvements as needed. "House poor" is a real thing.

That's my $0.02...
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Hockey10 »

Don't buy a house in a bad neighborhood.
Don't buy a house on a busy street.
Don't buy a house at the bottom of a hill.

If you do buy one at the bottom of a hill, you will be asking Bogleheads about recommendations for sump pumps and how to keep water out of your basement.
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Watty
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Watty »

Blue456 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:21 pm I don't want to just google this as I find this community in general more knowledgable.
Using the search box on most of the Boglehead web pages you can find lots of prior threads on Bogleheads with this same question.

https://www.google.com/search?sitesearc ... uying+tips
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Tamarind
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Tamarind »

Buy a pre-owned house. Buy a smaller house than you think you need. Spend less than you think you can afford.

Look for patched cracks in the interior or in exterior foundation. Look at the slope of the lot and figure out where water will flow that falls uphill of the house.

Spend at least 10 minutes standing outside and listening to the ambient noise before you make an offer.

Get an inspection. Follow the inspector as they work, yep including into the roof or under the house if you are able. Ask questions as you go. Understand that inspectors won't find everything.
megabad
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by megabad »

Buy an SFH, not a condo or anything else for your first home.

Check for correct grading away from foundation (observe on rainy day if possible).

Crawl under the house with the inspector and make sure foundation is rock solid.

buy a house with at least 2 bathrooms.

buy a house that is immediately “livable” for you without renovation.

Buy house with modern infrastructure. No aluminum wiring. No cast iron or plastic pipes.

Ignore flooring and paint colors and just factor the cost to redo into your budget.
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Elsebet
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Elsebet »

Cruise wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:18 pm OP: Buy only enough house that you can afford on one income. One never knows when recessions and downsizing may strike a family. This was the metric we used, and while we never suffered from a job loss, we did see our investment accounts grow. :)
+1, but I'd also advise if there are two incomes in the family that the house be affordable on only the lower of the two incomes.
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca
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lthenderson
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by lthenderson »

Blue456 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:21 pm We are looking for our first house. What are some things that I should be aware of? What to look out for? I don't want to just google this as I find this community in general more knowledgable.
My number one rule is to drive to the house and park on the street for a couple hours in the evening when all the families are home from work. Too many times I see people who look at and buy houses during the day when the neighborhood is essentially deserted and then get surprised when their neighbor likes to tune his motorcycle in the evening after work as a form of therapy. I have pulled the plug on some house purchases because I didn't like the neighborhood when everyone was home.
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by alfaspider »

Hockey10 wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:28 pm Don't buy a house in a bad neighborhood.
Don't buy a house on a busy street.
Don't buy a house at the bottom of a hill.

If you do buy one at the bottom of a hill, you will be asking Bogleheads about recommendations for sump pumps and how to keep water out of your basement.
Plenty of houses don't even have basements. They are common in some parts of the country, rare in others. I'd be a bit wary of a house on top of a steep hill in a snowy climate.
Topic Author
Blue456
Posts: 1337
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Blue456 »

Elsebet wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:07 pm
Cruise wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:18 pm OP: Buy only enough house that you can afford on one income. One never knows when recessions and downsizing may strike a family. This was the metric we used, and while we never suffered from a job loss, we did see our investment accounts grow. :)
+1, but I'd also advise if there are two incomes in the family that the house be affordable on only the lower of the two incomes.
30 year mortgage should be 40% (max) of monthly income of one parent.
finite_difference
Posts: 2524
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:00 pm

Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by finite_difference »

My updates to livesoft’s excellent list w/ awval999 and Bolder Boy updates added:

1. If on a cul-de-sac then near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning.
2. Good schools.
3. Within 10 minutes of the office.
5. No tile countertops.
6. No bathroom doors visible from a seated position in any public room like den, kitchen, living room, game room, study, etc.
7. 4 bedrooms, at least 2.5 bathrooms.
8. Brick exterior, not stucco, not wood.
9. No major street within 2 blocks. (i.e. Interior cul-de-sac).
10. No chance of flooding, so must be on a ridge or high ground with good drainage even during a hurricane.
11. Not on a corner or intersection.
13. 3 ways out of the neighborhood (in case fallen trees block the roads).
14. Cannot hear any highway noise nor noise of major traffic arteries.
15. Nice walking possibilities for the dog; nice running/biking loops in several directions for you.
16. Consider site plan: Deciduous trees on south side to shield from sun in summer, open views on north side.
17. No nuisances (no electric wires, power lines. No visible water towers, cell phone towers, billboards, sewage treatment plants.)
20. Home is offset from next door homes, so that windows do not face neighbors' windows, patios do not directly face neighors' patios.
21. Washer/dryer in the laundry room should be located conveniently on the same floor as the master bedroom, but not so close as to allow noise in the bedroom.
23. Not located below the arrival or departure routes of a major airport.
24. Not within 1 mile of a railroad track.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh
phxjcc
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by phxjcc »

Above are all of the “nots”. However, I prefer to focus on the positives.

IOW, buy something other than “just a house “.

Location, city and PO/zip, view, school district, lot size and exposure, easy commute, architecture, architect, floor plan, builder, HOA amenities.

Think of this: if you are the realtor, what would your first line of the listing say.

Hint: it would not likely be “ no tile counters”.
oldfort
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by oldfort »

finite_difference wrote: My updates to livesoft’s excellent list w/ awval999 and Bolder Boy updates added:

1. If on a cul-de-sac then near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning.
2. Good schools.
3. Within 10 minutes of the office.
5. No tile countertops.
6. No bathroom doors visible from a seated position in any public room like den, kitchen, living room, game room, study, etc.
7. 4 bedrooms, at least 2.5 bathrooms.
8. Brick exterior, not stucco, not wood.
9. No major street within 2 blocks. (i.e. Interior cul-de-sac).
10. No chance of flooding, so must be on a ridge or high ground with good drainage even during a hurricane.
11. Not on a corner or intersection.
13. 3 ways out of the neighborhood (in case fallen trees block the roads).
14. Cannot hear any highway noise nor noise of major traffic arteries.
15. Nice walking possibilities for the dog; nice running/biking loops in several directions for you.
16. Consider site plan: Deciduous trees on south side to shield from sun in summer, open views on north side.
17. No nuisances (no electric wires, power lines. No visible water towers, cell phone towers, billboards, sewage treatment plants.)
20. Home is offset from next door homes, so that windows do not face neighbors' windows, patios do not directly face neighors' patios.
21. Washer/dryer in the laundry room should be located conveniently on the same floor as the master bedroom, but not so close as to allow noise in the bedroom.
23. Not located below the arrival or departure routes of a major airport.
24. Not within 1 mile of a railroad track.
If you have a ridiculously long list of must haves, you can rule out every house on the market. In DC, getting a 10 minute commute by itself would be a minor miracle for most people.
smitcat
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by smitcat »

livesoft wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:26 pm Just the usual things:
livesoft wrote: Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:02 pm Here is my home location criteria published many times on this forum:
livesoft wrote: Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:34 pm I wrote about it previously:
livesoft wrote:A list from a previous thread ….
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 24#p818024
livesoft wrote:When we started looking to buy, we went to library and checked out the books. It was pretty straightforward. I would not buy a book unless it was in the $1 rack at the used book store.

And the idea of "evaluating windows" is kind of silly. Here's my criteria when I was looking for a home.

1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning.
2. Good schools.
3. Within 3 miles of my office.
4. Short walk from a water features like a pond or lake.
5. No tile countertops.
6. No bathroom doors visible from a seated position in any public room like den, kitchen, living room, game room, study, etc.
7. 4 bedrooms, at least 3 bathrooms.
8. Brick exterior, not stucco, not wood.
9. No major street within 2 blocks. (i.e. Interior cul-de-sac).
10. No chance of flooding, so must be on a ridge or high ground with good drainage even during a hurricane.

Surprisingly, these criteria eliminate about 98% of homes, so if the realtor is doing their job, you won't have to look at more than 1 or 2 homes. Notice that except for the countertop thing, there is nothing special about windows, insulation, appliances, etc. Those are small things that you can change. You can't change location and add a large pond or good schools where none exist.
In addition, (some are redundant):

11. Not on a corner (same as #1).
12. If street has street lights, at the street light (free security lighting).
13. 3 ways out of the neighborhood (in case fallen trees block the roads).
14. Cannot hear any highway noise nor noise of major traffic arteries.
15. Nice walking possibilities for the dog; nice running/biking loops in several directions for you.
16. Consider site plan: Deciduous trees on south side to shield from sun in summer, open views on north side.
17. No nuisances (no electric wires, power lines. No visible water towers, cell phone towers, billboards, sewage treatment plants.)
18. Walk to schools (see #2).
19. Walk/bike to nearby grocery store, restaurants, drugstores, doctors, dentists (but not so close that one gets any noise or traffic in the neighborhood).
20. Home is offset from next door homes, so that windows do not face neighbors' windows, patios do not directly face neighors' patios.

And I agree with awval999, price-per-sq-ft is a good criteria, but once narrowed to a neighborhood the list I presented might help.
I'll add two more criteria from recent bogleheads threads:

N1. Water heaters should be located very near (such as above) critical bathroom showers and kitchens, so that one does not have to wait for hot water. Two heaters are better than one for redundancy.

N2. Washer/dryer in the laundry room should be located conveniently on the same floor as the master bedroom, but not so close as to allow noise in the bedroom. A good location is between the kitchen or mud room and the dining room. That way the dining room can be used for dumping/folding clothes from the dryer. Of course, one of the hot water heaters should be above the laundry room.
If you tell your buyer's agent not to show you any house that doesn't meet the specific location requirements, that'll speed things up and they won't waste your time. I only looked inside 2 homes in the course of 5 months. The first one I was tricked by my spouse; the second one we bought.
BolderBoy wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:30 am To livesoft's list:

Not on the arrival or departure routes for a major airport!

Not within 10 miles of a railroad track.
"1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning."
Interesting - we have found that the end lots on a cul-de-sac are usually the most desireable.
livesoft
Posts: 76148
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by livesoft »

smitcat wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 8:33 am "1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning."
Interesting - we have found that the end lots on a cul-de-sac are usually the most desireable.
Could be for you, but where I live that's where the cul-de-sac mail boxes are and the street parties are and where the garbage trucks have to back up with their warning sounds in order to turn around and where people (and yard crews) park funny and the lots are narrow at the street and random shapes in their backyards. Also, it is not unusual here for the backyards of those homes to back up against a busy road.

So I can see where folks might like being at the end, but I do not want to be at the end.
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H-Town
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Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by H-Town »

livesoft wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 9:07 am
smitcat wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 8:33 am "1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning."
Interesting - we have found that the end lots on a cul-de-sac are usually the most desireable.
Could be for you, but where I live that's where the cul-de-sac mail boxes are and the street parties are and where the garbage trucks have to back up with their warning sounds in order to turn around and where people park funny and the lots are narrow at the street and random shapes in their backyards. Also, it is not unusual here for the backyards of those homes to back up against a busy road.

So I can see where folks might like being at the end, but I do not want to be at the end.
It depends on where you live. Cul-de-sac where I live has the biggest lot (almost twice the size as regular lot). You can put a swimming pool, an outdoor kitchen, a full-size garden, and a basketball court in the backyard. The backyards are against the other cul-de-sac houses. Plus, it’s graded higher than other houses on the street. Hurricane Harvey got to other houses on the street, but not even to the driveway of the house on cul-de-sac.

I guess somehow they know your dislikes of houses on cul-de-sac, and fix those shortcomings.
dbr
Posts: 35611
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by dbr »

H-Town wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 9:14 am
livesoft wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 9:07 am
smitcat wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 8:33 am "1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning."
Interesting - we have found that the end lots on a cul-de-sac are usually the most desireable.
Could be for you, but where I live that's where the cul-de-sac mail boxes are and the street parties are and where the garbage trucks have to back up with their warning sounds in order to turn around and where people park funny and the lots are narrow at the street and random shapes in their backyards. Also, it is not unusual here for the backyards of those homes to back up against a busy road.

So I can see where folks might like being at the end, but I do not want to be at the end.
It depends on where you live. Cul-de-sac where I live has the biggest lot (almost twice the size as regular lot). You can put a swimming pool, an outdoor kitchen, a full-size garden, and a basketball court in the backyard. The backyards are against the other cul-de-sac houses. Plus, it’s graded higher than other houses on the street. Hurricane Harvey got to other houses on the street, but not even to the driveway of the house on cul-de-sac.

I guess somehow they know your dislikes of houses on cul-de-sac, and fix those shortcomings.
In my urban area the neighborhoods a lot of people find topmost desirable don't have cul-de-sacs and the neighborhoods that do have cul-de-sacs are favored by some and avoided like the plague by others. It is a question of central city living vs suburbs, and a lot of desirable suburbs mostly also don't have cul-de-sacs.
Ramjet
Posts: 860
Joined: Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:45 am
Location: Ohio

Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by Ramjet »

Blue456 wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:21 pm We are looking for our first house. What are some things that I should be aware of? What to look out for? I don't want to just google this as I find this community in general more knowledgable.
Look for the manufactured date on the water heater, furnace, and AC. Look for signs of recent waterproofing in the basement
VT & HFEA
pjhalifax
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Location: South Carolina

Re: Do you have any tips for first time home buyer?

Post by pjhalifax »

Be aware that everyone else involved in the transaction probably wants you to make a purchase as soon as possible, and this will shape their advice to you. Trust, but verify.
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