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Calling All Homeowners!

As many of you know, my wife and are looking to purchase a house. In the interest of choosing wisely, I wanted to reach out to those of you who own a home and ask for your suggestions and tribal insight. We know the basics, but we were wondering about the lesser known truths, for example, anything you learned about your home or the purchasing process after you bought your home, but that you wished you knew beforehand.


  1. - Get pre-approved for your mortgage!

    - Set it up with your mortgage folks that you'll get some of your loan in the form of an Equity Line. This gives you huge flexibility in case of problems that require fixing -- you simply write a check. (We have a large Equity Line but we paid off the small amount of money we had in it; we pay $50/year for the assurance that if our roof blows off in a storm we can write a check to get it fixed, no questions asked -- and then deduct the interest on the loan.)

    - Don't be afraid to pass on houses you see. If a house doesn't leap out at you that "this is the one", then you probably don't want it. The One will be obvious when you see it.

    - Don't be afraid to look at a lot of places early on, but work out your criteria soon and throw away a lot. Most places suck. (Remember Sturgeon's law: 90% of everything is crud.)

    - Find a good house inspector. this is crucial for checking over the house you hope to buy.

    - Do not minimize the amount of work you will have to do when you move in. (Or preferably before you move in.) Think about de-leading costs if children are involved. Make sure you understand about old
    electrical wiring and service. Find out the age of the roof. Check for basement seepage.

    - Think about what it would take to retrofit featurs you want (e.g. central air conditioning or another bathroom). Cost is not just money: it's time supervising contractors and stress from not having your home fully yours -- not to mention the mess.

    - If you do plan to have work done on your new home, see if you can get it done before you move in. A month's rent is probably worth the lowered stress of living in a construction zone.


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