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Buying an Existing HOME

Just as if you were building a home, there are pros and cons to buying an existing home. For starters, the buying process tends to be much shorter, which is good news if you have to move quickly. You also have the chance to meet your neighbors and check out an already established neighborhood before making an offer on a home. If the neighborhood has a homeowners association, you can ask residents about how the money is spent and maybe even read a copy of the bylaws before deciding to live there.

Of course, existing homes don't come with the ability to choose miscellaneous design elements like paint colors, flooring, etc, and you may even find things that need to be repaired or remodeled. Some of that may be negotiable on the price you pay for the home, but it's important to know what you're getting into ahead of time so you have a better idea of how much money you will need to fix up the house after you move in.

Here are some things to consider before buying an existing home:

  • How much work will need to be done after you move in? Do the walls have paint or wallpaper? What type of flooring is in the home? If you have to lay new flooring or hang wallpaper (or remove wallpaper so you can paint) what will these improvements cost once you purchase the house?
  • If there are damages to the home, is it something you can fix yourself or will you have to hire a contractor?
  • Is there enough closet/storage space for everything you already own and are the rooms large enough to fit your existing furniture? If you don't know the size of your furniture, measure it before making an offer on the home.
  • If you have children, research the quality of the schools in the area where you may be living. How do they compare to other schools in the area, and how does the school district compare to other school districts around the state?
  • Does the condition of the home and its appraised tax value match the seller's asking price?
  • Do you like the landscaping or will you feel compelled to change it when you move in? What is the price tag for those changes and will they require a landscape professional or can you do it yourself?
  • What is the condition of the neighborhood in general? Are the other houses well kept and are the lawns well maintained? The appearance of the other homes affects the value of the home you are considering buying.
  • Does purchasing the home come with a mandatory membership to a homeowners association? If so, how does the association spend its money and how well are the rules enforced? The condition of the neighborhood can often help you make that determination, but it would be wise to get feedback from people who live there. You might even read a copy of the bylaws.