First Time Home Buyer Tips

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JoeChick10
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First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by JoeChick10 »

Hey Guys -

My sister and SO are looking at buying their first house in the Greater Boston area. Without getting into specifics on what they can afford, rates, etc. (I'm assuming they've already done this), I was hoping to seek some feedback/advice on 'things you wish you knew' before buying your first house?

As always, thanks for the insight!
mhalley
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by mhalley »

A couple of things off the top of my head.
Get preapproved, not just prequalified, check multiple banks or cu.
Don’t fall in love with a house, there will be another one just as good or better
Don’t buy a house with a lot of problems unless you get a great deal and are a great diyer
If you think you might want to do something that is a hassle after furniture is in the house, do it before you move in. Painting, flooring, etc.
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stickman731
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by stickman731 »

I have a couple of tips.

- Never buy a house on a street with a double yellow line - very tough to resell.
- Always buy in a good school district.
- Paint the closets before you move in - you will never empty them once you move in; same goes for hardwood floors, refinish before moving in.
- Get a lawn service for the first years - as you will have little time as you will be working on other projects.
BradJ
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by BradJ »

Always factor in commute.
Are there a lot of cars parked on the street? Bad sign if there is.
If possible, look at the property after a big rain.
Look at the ceilings when viewing, lines and stains are signs often overlooked.
Know thyself and the stage of life you are in AND going into. Don’t let HGTV make you believe restoration is easy and fun, especially if you aren’t handy.
75% of
Most importantly, meet at least two of Dave Ramsey’s rules:
1. Mortgage payment should be 25% of take home
2. 15 year mortgage
3. 20% down
runner540
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by runner540 »

From your phrasing, sounds like they aren't married. Make sure they get legal docs (partnership agreement?) that protects their investment in the house if they break up.
Cycle
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by Cycle »

commutting sucks. i would take 1/4th the square footage to have a short (walkable / bikeable) commute.

being a minimalist will allow you to love any space. my wife, baby, and i live in a 1050 sq ft 2br/1ba unit.

A very cheap way to live is to have tenants on site paying your mortgage / expenses. I did this with a roommate in my condo when i was in my twenties. i do this now with the other half of my duplex. The work to manage an on-site rental is minimal, the growth rate of your savings substantial.
Never look back unless you are planning to go that way
blackholescion
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by blackholescion »

BradJ wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:55 am Always factor in commute.
For the commute point, actually go drive to and from the house when you would normally go to/from work. This will give you the best idea on what the commute actually looks like. Google might say 20 minutes but there could be a choke point on the highway that always backs up and the commute, on average, takes 40. Are they willing to live with that?

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a top choice or two, spend enough time in the house. 3-4 hours at a time. Sit on every couch, listen for odd creaks and groans. Spend 15-20 minutes looking around each room for cracks, repair signs, anything that looks odd. You won’t be able to do this just walking through a house.

Pay top dollar for an inspector. $1000 now is much better than 30000 later.
ny_rn
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by ny_rn »

Househack and live for free.

They can buy their dream home later. I doubt this is the one.
livesoft
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by livesoft »

JoeChick10 wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:02 pm ..., I was hoping to seek some feedback/advice on 'things you wish you knew' before buying your first house?
I wish I would have known how the neighbors' children grew up.

I wish I would have known about all the future dogs that the neighbors acquired.

I have a more useful list of buyer tips in this post:
viewtopic.php?p=3868292#p3868292
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
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Watty
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by Watty »

Here are a few.

Be sure to spend a lot of effort to find a good home inspector. In most states they are very loosely regulated and your real estate agent is likely to recommend one that will go easy and not find too many problems with the house so that they will get future referrals from the real estate agent. You want a tough inspector that is not afraid to tell you not to buy the house.

When you are looking at a house go back to the neighborhood at several different times of day and walk around it and talk to people that you run into.

In most areas your commute will be worse in 10+ years so a marginal commute now could be terrible by then. Also consider how the likely commute will be if you change jobs.

Even if you don't plan on having kids still buy in an area that has at least average schools. Trying to sell a house someday with bad schools will be very difficult in a slow real estate market.

No house is perfect but some problems can be eventually be fixed but things like location will always be a problem.

Be very cautious when looking at houses that have been flipped since they will often do terrible quality work and hide known problems.

Try to avoid buying next to undeveloped land since it may be developed in ways that are bad for your house. Even if it is zoned for something like housing that can change or they may put in a huge house that looks down into your house and backyard. I know of a situation where houses next to a golf course eventually had a municipal swimming pool behind their house.
3feetpete
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by 3feetpete »

Remember your realtor is not your friend. He/she may come across as one but their objective is to sell you a house, any house, at the highest price you will pay. Assume anything you tell your realtor will find it's way to the seller so don't gush over a house to your realtor as this will make the seller think he is in a strong bargaining position.
jmetsrule
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by jmetsrule »

Here's one that I don't think gets mentioned often enough:

Buy the amount of house you're willing to clean and maintain. My wife and I watched all those fun house-selling, house-hunting shows--big kitchens, big yards, big rooms. But, in the end, we bought a nice, small ranch in a beautiful neighborhood with a great school district.

We don't spend our lives cleaning up the house and yard. We actually enjoy working on our home because it's a manageable size.
Nissanzx1
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by Nissanzx1 »

Home inspection including sewer cam. Condition of siding, windows, HVAC, insulation, roofing, foundation, ETC.

Other general deal breakers:
20% Down min
15 Year Fixed Max term
Don’t buy with partner unless married. Been there, got the T Shirt. Major disaster.
BradJ
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by BradJ »

Nissanzx1 wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:55 am Home inspection including sewer cam. Condition of siding, windows, HVAC, insulation, roofing, foundation, ETC.

Other general deal breakers:
20% Down min
15 Year Fixed Max term
Don’t buy with partner unless married. Been there, got the T Shirt. Major disaster.
Can we scream the “not until married” advice loud enough? I know people think those who believe that are old school, religious fuddy-duds, but some traditional advice has survived the ages because it just works. If I was young, no kids and not married....I would be enjoying the lack of responsibilities, including not having a mortgage.
staythecourse
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by staythecourse »

JoeChick10 wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:02 pm Without getting into specifics on what they can afford, rates, etc. (I'm assuming they've already done this),
No offense, I wouldn't assume this. If folks did there DD there wouldn't be so many problems with the housing industry. It can be as simple as first order thinking of: can we afford it or more likely complex like: What if one of us gets fired, what she wants to go part time when having kids, cost of property taxes on top of the cost, availability of good free public education, commute distance, greenspace for kids, etc...

We had a good friend couple build a HUGE house (2-3 million). Assumed they knew what they were doing as one is in finance and the other runs real estate properties. Guess not, after 2-3 years they figured out they couldn't afford it and sold their dream house. So, I would not assume ANYTHING. The stuff you mentioned are the ONLY things that are really important as the greatest risk of home buying is not affording the cost of it and then not being able to sell as it is illiquid.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle
jharkin
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by jharkin »

^^^^

The Boston RE market is expensive, and I know far too many people with incomes in the low-mid 100s and stay at home spouses buying 700-800k+ houses. Disaster waiting to happen.

On the flip side, the expensive market means that the Dave Ramsey 15 year mortgage approach is probably out of reach for most unless you work in high tech, bio, finance, law,etc.... or a re willing to commute 2 hours.


Other thoughts not mentioned - greater Boston is full of really old towns with a lot of old houses. If you get seduced by HGTV into the new construction or bust mindset you will pay though the nose for it, and end up on a tiny lot with no privacy. Those houses look good when they are new but in less than 10 years the builder grade finishes start to deteriorate and I see far too many whose owners cant afford to keep them well maintained. Million dollar houses with peeling paint are surprisingly common. Don't be that person.

An older house can be a great value if you know what you are getting into and are willing to put some work into maintaining it properly. And that doesnt mean ripping everything out. It means getting a good inspector to make sure you buy one without any basic structural/deferred maintenance issues, and then keeping up with the paint, roofing, etc.
middistancerunner
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by middistancerunner »

BradJ wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:00 am
Nissanzx1 wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:55 am Home inspection including sewer cam. Condition of siding, windows, HVAC, insulation, roofing, foundation, ETC.

Other general deal breakers:
20% Down min
15 Year Fixed Max term
Don’t buy with partner unless married. Been there, got the T Shirt. Major disaster.
Can we scream the “not until married” advice loud enough? I know people think those who believe that are old school, religious fuddy-duds, but some traditional advice has survived the ages because it just works. If I was young, no kids and not married....I would be enjoying the lack of responsibilities, including not having a mortgage.
My partner of over ten years and I have outlasted a number of our friends’ and acquaintances marriages.

You don’t see me going around “screaming” at people not to get married because it can end in a messy, horribly painful disaster. Even though the evidence is all around me that it absolutely can.

Perhaps we can stick to the original question rather than moralizing about a point that wasn’t even particularly clear in the OP (sister’s relationship status )
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Ben Mathew
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by Ben Mathew »

Real estate agents don't provide a service that I find valuable. Using a discount broker saved me a lot of money when I bought my current house, and my experience was better than when I used a full service broker to buy.
Dilbydog
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by Dilbydog »

[/quote]

My partner of over ten years and I have outlasted a number of our friends’ and acquaintances marriages.

You don’t see me going around “screaming” at people not to get married because it can end in a messy, horribly painful disaster. Even though the evidence is all around me that it absolutely can.

Perhaps we can stick to the original question rather than moralizing about a point that wasn’t even particularly clear in the OP (sister’s relationship status )
[/quote]

This...
cherijoh
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by cherijoh »

My first home purchase was a condo. My advice is if the purchase involves a home owner's association get a copy of the by-laws and HOA financial report. Make sure you can live with the rules and check and see if there are "adequate" financial reserves. My former condo complex had a slew of issues that I didn't know about until I moved in.

They should start squirreling away as much cash as possible. I had no idea how escrow worked, so I was a bit surprised at the amount of money I needed to bring to closing.

Remember, people flip houses for profit, so you will pay top dollar to get the trendiest features and have it be perfectly move in ready. Learn to separate what's important (location, floorplan, good structural bones), from what is superficial and easily fixed - paint color, wallpaper, etc. KItchen cabinets can be refaced or updated cheaply with new hardware (drawer pulls, etc.).
BradJ
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by BradJ »

middistancerunner wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:37 am
BradJ wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:00 am
Nissanzx1 wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:55 am Home inspection including sewer cam. Condition of siding, windows, HVAC, insulation, roofing, foundation, ETC.

Other general deal breakers:
20% Down min
15 Year Fixed Max term
Don’t buy with partner unless married. Been there, got the T Shirt. Major disaster.
Can we scream the “not until married” advice loud enough? I know people think those who believe that are old school, religious fuddy-duds, but some traditional advice has survived the ages because it just works. If I was young, no kids and not married....I would be enjoying the lack of responsibilities, including not having a mortgage.
My partner of over ten years and I have outlasted a number of our friends’ and acquaintances marriages.

You don’t see me going around “screaming” at people not to get married because it can end in a messy, horribly painful disaster. Even though the evidence is all around me that it absolutely can.

Perhaps we can stick to the original question rather than moralizing about a point that wasn’t even particularly clear in the OP (sister’s relationship status )
You are correct, even though my opinion does not change I do apologize for getting off topic.
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abuss368
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by abuss368 »

A really good agent can provide a lot of value during the home buying process.
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middistancerunner
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by middistancerunner »

jharkin wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:09 am ^^^^

The Boston RE market is expensive, and I know far too many people with incomes in the low-mid 100s and stay at home spouses buying 700-800k+ houses. Disaster waiting to happen.

On the flip side, the expensive market means that the Dave Ramsey 15 year mortgage approach is probably out of reach for most unless you work in high tech, bio, finance, law,etc.... or a re willing to commute 2 hours.
As a Boston person, seconding this. It’s super easy to get pushed/seduced into buying more than you can afford in this area.

It’s important to figure out realistic contingency plans for job loss, which gets lost when figuring out the max house price based on both incomes. So unless the couple have two super secure jobs, what I’d recommend is setting their max number based on how much they can afford on only one income. I also think it’s ok to assume that in that eventuality one lost their job things would be very tight, ie I don’t think it’s realistic for most people in this area for the standard to be ‘comfortably afford on one income.’ But being able to plausibly get by on one income is really helpful. They should try to work out the exact contingency plan in such a scenario.

In my situation, if my partner (the higher earner) lost his job, we would be able to live and pay the mortgage on only my income, though it’d be tight and I probably would need to drop my 401k contributions to the match instead of maxing out as I currently do.
blackburnian
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by blackburnian »

Some parts of Boston are such hot sellers' markets that every property gets multiple offers over asking, and the accepted offer is often cash with no contingencies. I think it's crazy to forgo inspection contingency, but lots of people do. One thing you can do to stay in the running is to say (in the offer) that you won't negotiate inspection items unless they are over a certain amount (say, $5000 or $10,000). Then get a really good inspector. If it turns out there are big problems that weren't obvious, you can either back out or negotiate for credit.
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gasdoc
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by gasdoc »

I just accepted an offer on a relative's house I was helping to sell. Asked $149K, received a dozen offers $155K-$160K range, on the first day of showing. Under $300K, it is a seller's market. I first weeded through the offers looking for problems. Immediately threw out mortgages that were not conventional. I only kept looking at mortgages that were pre-approved. I immediately threw out offers that had special requirements like mold testing and radon testing required. I threw out those that requested home inspection, but did not allow "right to cure," meaning they could walk if the inspector found anything. Depending on the price range of the house, you may have to think from the perspective of the seller who may have multiple offers.

gasdoc
SDLinguist
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by SDLinguist »

I would add: don't get fooled by those online affordability calculators.

I just checked the nerd wallet one for instance and it says we should be able to afford a house 5x our gross income with 20% down and zero other debt, so mortgage of 4x gross. After taxes and retirement savings that would be almost 75% take-home. Talk about house poor!
sschoe2
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by sschoe2 »

1. Don't buy a house with any sort of association. The amount of horror stories I hear and read about every day with them just forget it. Also the assessments are unpredictable and can go up on a whim or you can get a large special assessment or the HOA can order you to do something like replace all your windows for $20k or they can have your car towed or just plain old make your life miserable and you have no recourse. They have nearly absolute power worse than the government.
leeish
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by leeish »

Don't think just because you got an inspection, the house is in good shape. I would spend several hours at the house and look at everything. I mean everything. Get on the roof, look under anything you can move, especially about any plumbing and exterior walls. Look how things are put together and write down every single question you have.

When you do have an inspector come over, ask them everything you can. You are typically allowed to be there during the inspection if you want. Try not to get too much in the way, but you are paying $500-$1000 for about 3-5 hours of work. Make them work for it and ask them everything you wrote down. About any damage you see, especially water damage.

Visually watch all appliances run. Water softener, water heater, AC, heat, dish washer... every single thing.

Especially ask about how well the home seems it was maintained. Seriously just ask a ton of questions... nothing is stupid. If you don't the inspection report will be "ok" but you'll wish later you had asked about all the new problems you've find 6 months after moving in.

Also, go look at the home in the morning, at night, during the day, during the rain if possible. Park outside for an hour or two one day and one night. You'll get a feel for the neighborhood, and most importantly the neighbors.
McJammer
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by McJammer »

If there's a wet/dry vac in the basement, that's a good sign there'll be water issues in the basement.

Don't be in a rush to move in - do the big things that are easier to do when the house is empty, like refinishing floors and painting.

If you heart breaks when the offer's not accepted, something just as good, if not better (as in our case) will come along.
BrooklynInvest
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by BrooklynInvest »

1. Check the neighborhood and street at different times

2. Try and remove emotion... yeah, I know.

3. Stuff's gonna break and go wrong. it's fixable

Good luck!
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F150HD
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by F150HD »

stickman731 wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:14 am I have a couple of tips.

- Never buy a house on a street with a double yellow line - very tough to resell.
- Always buy in a good school district.
- Paint the closets before you move in - you will never empty them once you move in; same goes for hardwood floors, refinish before moving in.
- Get a lawn service for the first years - as you will have little time as you will be working on other projects.
most first time homebuyers are more strapped for cash than most, and you expect them to pay a lawn service to do probably the easiest home chore possible?

We must live in completely different worlds.
Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.
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F150HD
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by F150HD »

leeish wrote: Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:36 pm Don't think just because you got an inspection, the house is in good shape. I would spend several hours at the house and look at everything. I mean everything. Get on the roof, look under anything you can move, especially about any plumbing and exterior walls. Look how things are put together and write down every single question you have.

When you do have an inspector come over, ask them everything you can. You are typically allowed to be there during the inspection if you want. Try not to get too much in the way, but you are paying $500-$1000 for about 3-5 hours of work. Make them work for it and ask them everything you wrote down. About any damage you see, especially water damage.

Visually watch all appliances run. Water softener, water heater, AC, heat, dish washer... every single thing.

Especially ask about how well the home seems it was maintained. Seriously just ask a ton of questions... nothing is stupid. If you don't the inspection report will be "ok" but you'll wish later you had asked about all the new problems you've find 6 months after moving in.

Also, go look at the home in the morning, at night, during the day, during the rain if possible. Park outside for an hour or two one day and one night. You'll get a feel for the neighborhood, and most importantly the neighbors.
I get learning the neighborhood but sitting outside the home borders on creepy, super creepy. LOL

Maybe OP could have a pizza delivered to their car while they sit and wait, maybe even knock on the homeowners door to use thier restroom. :P
Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.
bluebolt
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Re: First Time Home Buyer Tips

Post by bluebolt »

If they have a checklist of must-haves, make sure they really know which ones are must-have and which ones are nice-to-have if push came to shove. Especially in the greater Boston market, you may have to make compromises and they should be comfortable knowing where they are willing to do so.

Also, they should be ready to move quickly. Have the deposit money readily available. Be ready to make "best & final" offers. Have contact info for realtor, lawyer, home inspector, plumber, electrician, general contractor, etc. so you don't have to scramble if you need to contact any of them. If they know they can comfortably waive the mortgage contingency, they should think about doing it to be competitive.

Generally, whatever money they think they are going to need when they move in is an underestimate if they haven't owned before. Tools, small electrics, appliances, lawn mower, furniture, blinds, etc.

Our utilities & maintenance went up significantly from our smaller apartment to our house. Gas for heating, electric for cooling, lawn care, random maintenance, additional cable boxes were all more than we budgeted.

If they plan on being in this house a long time, think about the things that will improve their life every day and prioritize making those changes.

I've bought 2 places in greater Boston in the last 15 years (most recent in the last few years). If you or they have specific questions you don't want to share in the thread, feel free to PM me.
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