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It happens to the best of us: one minute you’re innocently scrolling through Zillow listings, and the next you’re planning your life in a a former industrial town where you’ve found the historic house of your dreams at a price you can seemingly afford. You might even go to the next step and see the house in-person, and realize two things: the house needs a lot of work, and you are completely in love with the place.
But no matter how many HGTV shows you watch about flipping old houses that have happy endings, reality isn’t always as kind. Regardless of when the home was built and its current condition, if you find yourself in a situation where you’re getting ready to make an offer, ask yourself these questions first to make sure it really is the right house for you (and your budget).
Questions to ask before buying the wrong house
In an article for BobVila.com, Terri Williams breaks down several signs that you’re about to buy a home that doesn’t really work for you. Here are some questions to consider to help you determine whether this is your best option:
Are you forcing the numbers to work? Being able to “afford a house” goes far beyond whether you can hypothetically secure the funds for a down payment and get a mortgage. It also includes all the repairs, taxes, maintenance fees, utilities, and who knows what else that pops up over time. Make sure you take all of that into consideration and be realistic about what you can afford.
Does the home excite you? Not everyone is in a place where they’re able to hold out for a home that “excites” them, but if you are, why spend that much money on something you’re not that into?
Does the home meet everyone’s needs? If you live on your own, this isn’t an issue, but if you live with a partner and/or family, make sure the house is a good fit for everyone—not just you.
Are you willing to waive the inspection contingency? It’s a seller’s market, so if your attempt to make your offer stand out is to waive the inspection contingency, that could be a problem down the line. “There could be something that comes up in the inspection report that completely changes your enthusiasm for buying the home,” Tyler Forte, CEO at Felix Homes tells BobVila.com.
Are you ignoring the findings of the inspection report? If so, this may not be the place for you. “If the inspection comes back with red flags trying to tell you this isn’t the house for you, listen to them,” Kris Lindahl, CEO and founder of Kris Lindahl Real Estate tells BobVila.com. “Once we begin picturing ourselves in a home or visualizing ourselves raising kids in a home, it’s really hard to walk away.”
Are you up to the task of making all the repairs the home requires? Please be aware that home improvement shows only show a tiny part of the entire renovation process. It is so much work. And also expensive. If you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, or the money to hire people to make the repairs, it’s time to pass.
Does the house have a high turnover rate? Do a little research and find out the sales history of the house. If it changes hands frequently, that is not a good sign, and you should find out why that happens.
As heartbreaking as it may be to walk away from what you think could be your dream home, the reality is, it might not work out. And it’s better to know that now, than after the papers are signed.