Lois Lehman is a sales associate in our Southport, Conn. office. A member of the Chairman’s Elite Club, Lois a top producing agent specializing in luxury homes, international clients and investment properties. To learn more about her, visit her Agent Website on raveis.com.
1. Don’t be dazzled by new construction. Remember that you’ll pay a premium of about 15-20% for the gleaming newness of kitchen cabinets, countertops, and bathrooms. But like a car leaving the showroom, your brand-new house depreciates fast.
2. Condos. The value of your condo is unlikely to rise as reliably as a single-family home. You may also be handcuffed to other owners in the complex price-wise, and forced to shell out for high maintenance fees.
3. The importance of a neighborhood. Choose the nicest, most conveniently located neighborhood you can afford. Consider the reputation of the town school system, even if you will never have a child boarding those yellow buses. Parents pay more than other home buyers, because they have so much at stake in choosing the place to raise their family.
4. Buying a house that is not yet built. If you insist on paying for a house that is not yet built, understand that you must specify every door handle and hinge, the letter box and quality of windows and type of flooring, in the purchase contract.
5. Avoid foreclosures & short sales. Stay away from these troubled, damaged properties, unless you are a very tolerant person. It has been a long time since these were happy homes. It may take more resources than you have, to transform them.
6. Buy the house you want. Don’t buy a house to impress people you don’t really care about. Buy a house that reflects who you are.
7. Rely on a good REALTOR. There is an enormous difference between a realtor who doesn’t care, or doesn’t know, and someone who can point out defects that don’t meet the eye. A realtor’s expertise will save you big bucks through sharp negotiating. A realtor will tell you the inside story behind MLS listings, and will figure out if the seller is concealing important information.
8. Choose a plot wisely. Be cautious about a beautiful house on a terrible piece of land. A sharp slope from the street down to your residence means that water will roar down that slope whenever it rains. When you see a steep driveway on a sunny day, imagine that driveway coated with ice in January. Properties at high elevations tend not to flood.
9. The right price. Remember that for the right price, every drawback disappears and becomes meaningless. If you are bothered by a drawback, it must be that the price isn’t low enough.
10. Wait to fall in love. Don’t wait for perfection in a house, any more than you’d wait for perfection in a marriage partner. The difference between infatuation with a home, and with a partner, is that loving a house depends on finding an exceptional price value. The same cannot be said of love for a human being.