FORBES - Q & A

What little-known factor do most first-time homebuyers not know about that can have a serious impact on their purchase? Include either positive factors like tax advantages, or risks that buyers often forget to examine closely.

As a first-time homebuyer, most of you are entering the market wide-eyes, and bushy tailed with optimism and expectation abound.  Not to discourage your bravado, but I do feel it's pertinent to go over some of the most common pitfalls that a new property owner can avoid.  Although I’m may be a bit biased I feel having an experienced captain navigate your ship into port is incredibly valuable, meaning, that working with a Real Estate professional is not only an obvious choice, but one that I cannot suggest more strongly.  Moreover, again, I recommend this not to push my agenda, but because I believe this indeed is in the best interest of those concerned.

Secondly, one of the most common mistakes I see first-time homeowners fall into is not getting enough inspections.  With that said, I would like to provide a list of pertinent inspections I highly recommend all first-time, last-time, or anytime buyers perform when is escrow. 

1- General inspection - You must get a full general inspection from the top of the roof to the bottom of the foundations, by a fully licensed and bonded inspector.  I strongly recommended that your chosen home inspector have ample experience and that preferably they have worked with people you know, whom you trust. 

I'm not sure that I fully trust portals such as Yelp and the like as much as I trust looking into the eyes of one of my friends and asking them for their referral.

2- Sewer inspection – This is often overlooked, and often disastrous when it is.  Sewers can be one of the most costly repairs for new homebuyers.  I implore you to scope it out, literally, from the throne itself all the way to the street.  Make sure there are no breaks, fractures or that any part of the pipe needs replacing, as this can be incredibly expensive and time-consuming.

3 – Geological Exam - If the house is on any gradient, meaning a hillside and the like, you must get a geological exam, again, from a great geological inspection company that has years of service and recommendations by your friends.  If you do not have access to referrals, you want to try and track down some local builders.  For this type of vendor, however, it is typically okay to venture into the world of portals, but again, I always prefer a verbal recommendation from a friend or colleague.

4 – Chimney Inspection - The chimney can also be a disaster if not properly examined.   If it has been standing for say a 100 years, you need to have a reputable chimney inspector go from the very base to the very tip of the chimney to ensure it is safe.  At the end of the day the chimney protects you from incredible heat, and if a fault is overlooked, it can literally burn a house down.

5 – Mold & Toxic Substance Inspection - The other two horsemen of the apocalypse.  I would always take a recommendation from my general inspector to see if I actually need one of these because they can be very costly, time-consuming, confusing and a tad scary.  So, first let the general inspector almost behave like the captain of the ship to guide you onto other subsequent inspections, that you may need to obtain, but General, Sewer, Chimney and Geological (if hillside) are really the big 4 for starters.

6- Roofing & Electrical - You are welcomed to get these, but I would highly recommend you follow the lead of your general inspector.  Any good general inspector will say, "Yes, you should get these inspections." Alternatively, "Everything I'm seeing is okay." That way you are not pouring money into costly inspections you may not need.

First Time Buyers Top Tip: 

In addition to the above suggestions, very often buyers will want to find the house and then get the loan.  In the economy and the housing market of 2018, I believe that should be in reverse.  I say this because the market is so competitive.  I highly recommend you get your finances in order first by working with a reputable loan provider that can service you with paperwork, should you find the right property.  That way you can act like lightning when you find the perfect home and there is no delay.  Far too often I see buyers come in with their eyes glazing over and love dripping out of their ears when seeing a home, and then they scramble to find the financing.  By the time they get it in order, the house is gone. This can be avoided by speaking with a good lender ahead of time.

Naturally, as you can imagine, there are many other pitfalls, but these are some of the most highly volatile ones that you should look out for when buying your first home. For more info go to www.PLGEstates.com or @PeterLorimer and I will be glad to answer your questions and concerns.