First Home Shopping Checklist

Written by laurie carpenter
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First Home Shopping Checklist
Do your homework before purchasing your first home. (David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Purchasing your first home can be an exciting, yet intimidating prospect. First-time homebuyers often look to their first home as an investment toward a future, long-term home. If you're handy and on a tight budget, you may be looking at property that needs updating. If you can do much of it yourself, the investment will pay off in a resale. To ensure you get value for your money, and don't invest in a money pit and limit your returns down the road, consider several important aspects.

Location, Location, Location

Location speaks volumes when it comes to real estate investment. When thinking location, first consider the town and the demographics. If the area is suffering from an economic downturn and few jobs are available, the purchase price may be low; however, your chances at a resale may be smaller and the crime rate could be high. Is the neighbourhood family friendly or is it situated in a commercial area with high traffic? Listen for highway noises--while you may not see heavily travelled roads, noise can be an issue from blocks away. Research town planning records, checking for future construction such as a new road. Or maybe those lovely woods across the street are about to be bulldozed for a new subdivision or school. Is a grocery store handy or is there a 15 minute drive to buy a loaf of bread? Check the local school district for a successful track record.

Home Inspections

Know what you're getting before you buy. Home inspections are an absolute necessity today. Besides ensuring your home is structurally sound, inspections prove whether seemingly small issues may be major problems, such as carpenter ants that destroy framework. Check for large-expense issues in the house---roof, water or flooding problems, condition of the siding, pests, or septic system or electrical problems. While you might expect and can fix some wear and tear, major problems such as roof, porch, or foundation repair or replacement can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

First Home Shopping Checklist
Before signing a purchase and sale, have the home professionally inspected for hidden problems. (David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Monthly Costs

You may have figured out an affordable mortgage price, but don't ignore the many associated costs you'll pay each month or year. Property taxes are a consideration and can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly budget. Ask to look at the utility costs for the previous years. Poor insulation and high ceilings can contribute to higher heating and cooling bills. Electric, gas, water and sewer costs must also be budgeted. Homeowners insurance can vary depending upon the home's age, location and size. If your home is near water, your insurance will be higher due to storm and flood damage. Flood insurance may also be required.

First Home Shopping Checklist
Underbudgeting for utility costs can cause undue stress down the road. (Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Deed Restrictions

Many subdivisions and communities have restrictions placed upon your deed. These will limit what you can and cannot do to your property. While they are often designed to protect you against a neighbour who decides to open a chicken farm, these restrictions can also limit, for example, the colours you can paint your home or the style of your house facade Some deed restrictions prevent you from placing signs on your lawn, erecting fences, or parking boats or campers in your driveway.

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