Know when to walk away, know when to run
Let’s face it, there are so many things that can go wrong when you’re buying a house. Although house hunting can be exciting, it’s also emotionally draining and time consuming. Perhaps that’s why it’s so common for buyers to “fall in love” with a particular house, determined to live there no matter what the cost.
But when it comes to cost, well, some costs are easier to weather than others. But you’ve got to know when to say, “Nope,” and walk away from the deal. This can be hard, especially if you have your heart set on a certain house. But hearts don’t pay mortgages, deal with termite infestation, or fix sinking foundations. So before you sign those closing documents, here are some things to consider.
- Does your contract allow you to back out? When it comes to the documents you sign, words matter. It is crucial that you understand what it is you’re signing. No, you aren’t expected to pass a real estate licensing exam yourself, but it is a good idea to have someone on your side who has. Having a lawyer with real estate expertise look over your documents is a good idea, too. You don’t want to sign something that backs you into a corner should, say, something terrifying turn up in the inspection.
- Can you afford it? If you’ve ever watched House Hunters, you’ve probably noticed that buyers often pick the house that is at the outer limits of what they’ve initially said they could afford. “Oh, we have a $300,000 limit,” they’ll say, and by the end of the show they’re like, “We want the $350,000 house that needs $50,000 in immediate repairs and updates.” And hey, maybe everything works out great for them. But most people don’t have an extra hundred thousand dollars lying around. But if you fall in love with a home that bumps up against what you can actually afford and then on top of that needs updates or repairs, you need to find the will to keep looking.
- What does the inspection find? The need to have a qualified, experienced, and trustworthy inspector take a look at the house you’re buying before you commit to buying it cannot be overstated. Unless you are, yourself, a qualified and experienced home inspector, there is really no excuse for skipping this step. Knowing what you’re up against is an essential part of the equation. If your inspector finds a crumbling foundation, termite infestation, a crawl space flooded with sewage, an attic filled with so much racoon poop that the floor and ceiling need to be replaced, or something else that will be difficult and/or costly to fix, you need to be ready to walk, or even run. Sure you could put in the agreement that the seller must fix these things, but they might be unwilling or unable to do so. Plus, there are some things that are better to have done yourself. After all, if the seller didn’t initially disclose this info or has been blissfully unaware of any problems, can you really trust them to do a good and thorough job? Is taking that chance really worth it?
Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s important to remember that love at first sight might be a romantic notion, but it’s not the best strategy for buying a home.