When you finally find your dream home, the worst thing that can happen is the deal falling through at the last minute. It’s more common than you might think, and the reasons are often surprisingly small. Fortunately, a little attention to detail and thorough planning can save you from the heartbreak of a buy gone bad. Here are some pitfalls for buyers:
- Last-minute shopping sprees. Until your home loan has been funded, big purchases are flat out dangerous to closing the deal. Your credit matters and so does your bank balance. Every time they take a hit (say for new furniture, appliances, or even a big pickup truck for moving day), you risk skewing your financial picture in a foul direction. Lay off the buying until you’re in the clear.
Last winter, we had a buyer who bought three rooms of new furniture two weeks before closing- Bob’s Store was running a sale with 18 months interest free new credit… this purchase delayed the closing by two weeks and required her to put the new furniture she bought for a house she didn’t own yet and had delivered into storage…good thing she had interested free payments!
- Not drilling down deep on seller disclosures. Nobody likes surprises, so ask all the questions you have about condition issues in the home or on the lot. Sellers must disclose, so you’re well within your rights to ask after anything which seems unreasonably unexplained. Finding out late can sour the deal or stick you with costly repairs post-closing. Ask your agent to perform an OPRA Request on the property-its a written request done at town hall asking for a history of permits pulled for any rehab or renovations done to a home. This will also give you reassurance that any work was done correctly, inspected and approved.
- Failing to clarify which “fixtures” are included with the house. Fixture can be one of those words open to interpretation. Get clarity on what is an appliance, what is a part of the home, and what remains the seller’s personal property. An early understanding of what’s excluded will prevent sour feelings later on. If you fall in love with the house based the purple chandelier in the dining room because it reminds you of the one Grandma used to have- make sure its staying. Seller can be asked to replace lighting fixtures but they aren’t always replaced with exact replicas.
- Not securing a preliminary title report ASAP. Great surprises lurk in the title search, so you’ll want to know in advance if there’s anything which might complicate the deal. You never know when someone might have an interest in the property (like an ex-husband), and you can’t be 100% sure about the property boundaries until you’ve defined them, can you? A misplaced fence or disputed driveway can foul things up in a hurry.
- Insurance surprises. Is the home in a flood plain? Will your rates be through the roof for hurricane or earthquake risks? It’s worth investigating early on in the process. You may still decide to buy the home, but you’ll at least be able to budget accordingly. Again, your agent should be able to do a little research to find out about flood plains, but your best bet may be to ask your insurance agent for the most accurate information.
I like to help buyers navigate the home buying process smoothly, armed with all of the knowledge they need in order to find the right home at the right price. Let me guide you to a smooth closing this year!
Barbara & Gregg , THE NICHOLAS TEAM of RE/MAX VILLAGE SQUARE 973-509-2222 ext.1126 RealEstate@TheNicholasTeam.com