Home Shopping? Look beyond the WOWs!

When shopping for a new home, it’s easy to fall in love. You can find yourself dazzled by the sprawling backyard, trendy kitchen, or sky-high ceilings, and want to make an offer right then and there.

But it’s important to take a step back and take the time to evaluate the perhaps less-exciting details. These often overlooked details may ultimately lead to significant, costly issues. Here’s what to look for and how to get beyond the WOWs:

  • Windows: Does every window open? For emergency reasons, every room needs a window that can be opened. Do they close and lock securely? Is the glass intact? Is there a tight thermal seal (which is important to regulate temperature)?
  • Flooring: Look for cracks, stains, holes, and warping. Ask if there’s another layer of flooring under carpet, tile, or laminate. Is the floor level? If not, it might be an indication of water, or worse, structural problems.
  • Basement: That beautifully finished basement could be hiding a plethora of problems, from leaks to mold to holes to critter infestations. Use a powerful flashlight to carefully examine corners and walls and look behind and under finishings.
  • Roof: Roof replacements are costly. Find out when the roof was last addressed, and whether it was a patch or a replacement. Look for signs of damage from the street.
  • Neighborhood: Look beyond the obvious into the details: Is local traffic a nightmare in rush hour? Is there reliable transit nearby? Is the home near green space, schools, and recreational facilities?
  • Parking: If the house doesn’t have a garage, will the driveway accommodate your vehicles? Is there good on-street visitors’ parking?

Even after you’ve checked the details, make your offer contingent on a home inspection. A reliable home inspector can dig deeper into the details. Isn’t your peace of mind worth it?

The Surprising Upsides to Holiday Home Shopping

With so much other shopping to do, should you add shopping for a new home to your list? It’s such a busy time of year. Maybe you should simply wait until spring. Or maybe not. Buying a home during the holidays offers several advantages over other times of the year.

Everyone else is at the mall. With other potential home buyers busy with holiday festivities, you’ll find you have less competition for your dream home. Plus, sellers have fewer buyers to choose from, meaning you might get a better deal.

Tax gifts from the treasurer. Buying a home at the end of the year may offer tax advantages, so it could be beneficial for you to close before January 1. There are additional factors at play here, such as potential conflicts with other deductions you hope to take, so if this is a key reason for buying now, be sure to talk to your tax professional first.

Holiday sales on interest rates. Often interest rates are lower during the holidays, thanks to a decline in demand during this time. Securing a loan now might save you a bundle in the long run.

Resolutions for a quick close. Finally, for buyers seeking a quick closing, this can be a prime time to shop. Typically, all parties involved in a year-end transaction are motivated to complete the sale before the start of 2017: sellers want to get resettled, and so do buyers, particularly if the kids will be switching schools and need adjustment time.