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Mike Holmes: Making sure you buy a home right

If you haven’t done your due diligence to assess the state of the home, you could wind up with an expensive lemon.
If you haven’t done your due diligence to assess the state of the home, you could wind up with an expensive lemon.

For most of us, buying a house is the biggest investment we’ll ever make. Whether we’re buying our first homes, expanding to a bigger space to accommodate a growing family, or downsizing as we age – my advice is the same: make sure you buy it right. There are a few steps that every potential homeowner at any life stage should take.

Buying the wrong home is a complete nightmare. It could be a poorly built money pit that costs way more than the sticker price. I don’t like hearing from homeowners who are going bankrupt due to one bad decision. So how do you make sure you buy the right home?

Here are my tips to buy it right.

Take Your Time

I always say I’d rather not buy a house than buy the wrong one. It’s pretty easy to make a house look appealing (all that lipstick and mascara), but who knows what’s hiding behind the walls. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, it’s buyer beware when it comes to real estate. If you haven’t done the due diligence to asses the state of the home behind the walls, you could wind up with an expensive lemon.

How do we avoid this? To me, a home inspection is some of the smartest money you can spend on your future home. Compared to the price tag of the home, this is a low ticket process that can help you assess the true state of the home. They can help assess the state of the roof, determine if there is fluctuating temperature differences behind the walls, and help find the source of hidden leaks. You can even have the indoor air quality tested for things like radon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and more. Finding these issues isn’t meant to deter you from buying the home – but if does arm you with the knowledge that you may need to make some upgrades after you buy. Depending on the market you live in, this may give you some negotiating power.

If you can, I recommend doing the walkthrough with the inspector. It’s your opportunity to ask them questions and get things from their perspective. Either way, they will provide you with a report at the end of the inspection. Whether you were on site for the inspection or not – make sure to read through that report carefully!

Spotting Red Flags

Your inspector can offer some great insight into the state of the home, but you can do some detective work on your own to sniff out some pretty big red flags.

One piece of advice I like to remind homeowners of is to ask for copies of previous energy bills. This can give you a general idea of what it takes to keep the home comfortable. If they seem abnormally high, to me, that’s a sign that the home isn’t energy efficient. That could mean the home has poor insulation, an unoptimized HVAC system, or some bad windows. None of those will be an inexpensive fix.

There’s something to be said for adding a fresh coat of paint to your home to make it more appealing for prospective buyers. However, if you’re going through a home, and only one wall, or certain sections of wall have new paint? To me, that could be a sign that they’re trying to cover up an issue.

Finally, if you’re looking at a house that’s been renovated – you’ll be able to contact your local municipality to pull the permits for it. A building permit signifies that the work done on the home was properly inspected, and done to code. When the building inspector (which is different from your home inspector) signs off on the renovation – you know it should be safe. If it was done without permits, it could still be fine, but like I said, buyer beware. Can you afford to buy a home that needs a lot of work?

Mike and his family are back! Watch their new show, Holmes 911 on CTV Life Channel.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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