Out of Sight May End Up Coming Out of Your Pocket
Often when home buyers begin their search they are caught up in the "thrill" of the quest. They got out their home buying calculator and have a laundry list of home features they "want" but may not be realistically within their budget. But, the most common complaints I hear are the little household quirks overlooked on the tour, that lead to big time expenses, even before the first mortgage payment has been made.
Here are five of the wallet busting, HIDDEN expenses to be mindful of when touring a potential new home.
1) Swimming Pools
Seeing that beautiful crystal blue water off a patio or deck instantly enchants potential home buyers with visions of household parties and family barbecues. The problem that many home buyers do not see is the costs of upkeep and hidden functional problems of owning your own swimming pool. Upkeep for an in-ground pool can cost up to hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of dollars for one summer season depending on the size of the pool. In addition, pools are very hard to accurately inspect for issues. Sometimes a leak costing BIG bucks is undetectable to even the most trained eye. In some cases, it might be best for your budget to forgo the home pool and look for a home with a community pool in close proximity.
2) Kitchens and Bathrooms
By far the biggest decision maker for many home buyers is kitchens and bathrooms. However often the ideas in mind of what their "dream" kitchen or bath encompasses, deters them from being realistic about the home's cost or the costs of future remodeling. Have an open mind AND a budget idea in hand as you tour your potential homes. Make a list of features you want with the general costs associated with them. Is it a deal breaker to have that stainless steel refrigerator? Maybe a home that is ten thousand dollars cheaper overall would be the best choice versus purchasing its counterpart that simply has the frig you want but costs much more.
On a similar note, watch approaching homes that do not match exactly to your needs. There are very few, if any, ways to stretch a two-bedroom home into a four-bedroom home. Also, keep in mind future space needs. Will you be expanding your family or having a senior family member coming to live with you in the future?
3) Be the Detective
Too many times home buyers rely on the home inspectors (YES! Make sure you have one!) to find ALL faults. But even the best inspectors can overlook small items. As you tour a home keep an investigative, sharp eye out for items that could be a possible structural or function issues for the home, make notes and share them with your inspector.
Also keep in mind items that may not fall under normal inspection. For instance pools, fireplaces and specially installed household technology features. It may be wise to hire an outside inspector (specific to the industry) to review these.
A fireplace that may be your "must have" feature can cost around $3,000 to replace if there has been an unseen chimney fire.
4) Home Decor
One of the biggest turnoffs for potential buyers is paint color and decor choices (lighting, kitchen/bath fixtures, flooring, etc.). This is why the home staging business is booming! While most of these can be changed fairly inexpensively by the average do-it-yourselfer, keep in mind that these features can add up when you are talking household wide. In addition, especially with electrical and plumbing, it may require a professional to make the changes.
I once knew a single woman who purchased her first home remarking how she loved that the yard because it seemed so natural (it was part of her home buying decision) and there would be very little upkeep...wrong! Within a few months the natural yard "upkeep" was threatening to take over her weekends. Even worse, overhanging tree branches were causing roof issues. Keep your eyes open to both inside and outside potential upkeep costs.
Being the detective when touring potential homes can alert you to future expenses that could quickly dampen your new homeowner joyfulness. But, taking a little time to research and solidify your new house "wants" from your "must haves" ultimately can help you in the decision making process.
If you are confused about what to look for in your new house or finding a house that matches your needs, please visit my site at www.pamsantoro.com/. You can also contact me at 678-656-6627. As an experienced member of both the National and Georgia Board of Realtors, I can answer any questions you have about local market conditions, financing or selling your home for the best market value.
Remember, no one sells a home like a Mom!