We’ve all heard the horror stories: Sherry waived her home inspection and just got saddled with a very flooded, very expensive basement. Gasp . But what about the other important details that no one gossips about? We’re here to talk about them.
YOU SHOULD SHOP AROUND FOR A MORTGAGE
The market is always changing, so don’t settle for the first offer from your lender. Do your research and see what else is out there to make sure you’re getting a fair deal before you commit to any numbers. Keep in mind that points, PMI (private mortgage insurance) and closing costs can really drive up a mortgage price, so be wary of appealing advertised loan rates—they might not be factoring in all the details.
YOU MIGHT NEED TO MAKE IMPROVEMENTS, STAT
You just plunked down a ton of money to buy the house (closing costs, whaaaat? ), so it can seem ridiculous to shell out again. But even if the property passed inspection, there’s a good chance you’ll want to upgrade some appliances or decor details to suit your taste. Keep a cushion of cash on hand for sleek new fixtures like Moen’s Align spring faucet, which is both modern and functional—the pull-down nozzle makes everyday cleanups a breeze. A fresh garbage disposal to start things (read: smells) off on the right foot is also a worthwhile swap. It helps to think of these upscale features as investments should you resell down the road.
IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO GET A LAND SURVEY
Speaking of improvements, take a pause to make sure you know where your property lines are before putting in that new pool. (Just because it looks like your neighbors’ lawn ends at their rosebush border doesn’t mean it actually does.) You can’t always rely on the seller’s knowledge of the property, either, so getting your yard surveyed professionally is the best way to know what’s what.
READ YOUR HOA DOCUMENTS (NO MATTER HOW THICK THEY ARE)
Oops, you tossed that packet into a drawer and never actually flipped through it, and now you’ve been hit with an unexpected (but fairly documented) increase in dues after the first six months of ownership. Be sure to look for any red flags that might affect you in the future, and make sure you can live with all the bylaws.
UNDERSTAND YOUR TAX SITUATION FROM THE START
For some, property taxes are rolled into their monthly mortgage payments. Others have to pay them quarterly or annually. Be aware of when you owe so that you can plan your personal finances accordingly—and keep the right paperwork for your returns (you can often deduct property taxes, points and interest paid on a mortgage). Truthfully, it’s not a bad idea to set up a meeting with an accountant to make sure you know what you’re doing when April 15 rolls around.