When you’re a first time home buyer, considering the home value of the property you’re interested in is all important. There’s not much point in fawning over a home you can’t even afford, or in one who’s supposed home value is definitely not worth your money.
For the first time buyer, the best way to make sure you get your money’s worth for a home is to get yourself a real estate agent to check the home value. Sure, there are people out there who regularly do real estate transactions without any agents involved, but they’ve been through the process several times and are familiar with the ins and outs of buying or selling a home. As a first time buyer, you certainly are not, no matter how much reading up you’ve done. Get yourself a buyer’s representative to get you the best deal on the home, to doublecheck that the home value is accurate, etc. A buyer’s agent is your advocate in the buying/selling process and is there to pilot the legalities involved in buying a home.
You should NEVER, EVER buy a home without getting a home inspection done. This ensures that all information regarding home value and condition the seller is giving you is on the up and up. Hiring a third, neutral party to check out the condition of the home and make sure the home value assessment is fair is the best way to make sure you’re not getting hosed.
Your home inspection should be as detail oriented as possible, leaving no stone left unturned. The home value of a property with a brand new, energy efficient water heater and central air conditioning system is bound to be higher than the home value of a property who’s water heater and air conditioner is 10 years old. And unfortunately, some homeowners have no problem stretching the truth about their home value and general home condition.
Home inspection should cover both the inside and outside of the home, as the condition of both is sure to have an effect on the home value and therefore the listing price of the home. On the outside, the inspection should cover the siding, the foundation, exterior brick and stone, roof, insulation, sidewalks and driveways and any porches or decks attached to the home. The condition of these factors can have a big impact on the home value and are easy to fake – a fresh coat of paint can go a long way to make siding look new. That’s why it’s important to have an expert inspect these things.
On the inside, an inspection should cover and ceilings, walls and moldings of every room, looking for loose pieces, cracks, drywall pulling away, etc. Both the electric and plumbing should be thoroughly inspected as well as the water heater, furnace and/or air conditioning unit. These things should all be checked for the condition, age and efficiency of the system. Older, inefficient models are bound to decrease the overall home value not to mention drastically increase your electric or heat bill. Inspections should also look at the garage, basement and attic, or any additions to the home to make sure they are all in good repair, meaning no stains or cracks, no water leaks, etc.
A property’s listing price and their home value aren’t necessarily going to be one and the same. It’s very possible that the asking price to purchase the home may be more or less than what the actual home value is – but that depends on the sellers. If the seller is trying to move as soon as possible, it’s likely they’ll drop the asking price to lower than the actual home value – in which case it’s a steal. Of course, on the other end, it’s possible that sellers may jack the listing price above the actual home value – maybe because the home is a good location, or they think they can get away with it.
Either way, using a buyer’s representative as well as a home inspector is a first-time buyer’s greatest defense against an inaccurate home value and jacked up listing price. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help!