What are some unintuitive things about buying a house?

Asked by Lynn Anderson, San Francisco, CA Mon Feb 20, 2012

What are some non-obvious things about buying a house?

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Ray Akers, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Feb 20, 2012
This is one of the most interesting questions I've seen posted on Trulia. The possible answers are almost limitless. Let me offer two things, from my personal experience; nighttime noise, and grocery stores. For any home you're considering, visit it several times, including in the evening. Are there any commercial establishments nearby that operate in the evening and might be disruptive? Does the next door neighbor belong to a band? Is the home located under or adjacent to a airport flight path? Do any of the neighbors have a barking dog? I recommend knocking on the neighbors doors, introducing yourself, and asking them if the neighborhood is quiet or noisy after dark. While there, ask them what they like about the neighborhood and what they don't like. The answers may surprise you. Regarding shopping, there's nothing worse than having to drive a distance after a days work to shop for food and basic necessities. Is the house located reasonably close to your favorite grocery store? Does the neighborhood offer other amenities, including restaurants, pharmacy, post office, or..? A home is much more than four walls and a roof. The quality of life cannot be quantified like a gourmet kitchen or updated bath. Only you can determine if the living environment is suitable for you. Good luck!
1 vote
Kary Krismer, Agent, Renton, WA
Mon Feb 20, 2012
Assuming you're talking about Washington, here a "Selling Broker" typically represents the buyer. And the "standard" form of title insurance is less coverage than normal.
1 vote
Pierre Arcos, Other Pro, Everett, WA
Mon Feb 20, 2012
First unintuitive thing I can think of is an appliance package that's included in the sale of a home. Most appliances don't outlast a 30 year loan, but you'll be paying for them even after they've been replaced.
1 vote
Jennifer Oha…, Agent, Bothell, WA
Mon Feb 20, 2012
That's actually a really good question.
I think the overwhelming amount of documentation you'll have to provide a lender today in order to get a loan.
That there is actually competition and multiple offers being made in our market. You will need to put your best foot forward first and not make low ball offers just to "see if they'll take it". The media, friends, family, and co-workers will say otherwise but that's not the case.
Really scrutinze homes that have been vacant for a long time. I am seeing a lot of issues with pipes and water leaks/ flopds due to not winterizing properly and this is frequently missed in the inspection or cannot be gauged if your inspector doesn't have the right equipment.
Hope this helps,
Jennifer Nilssen
TEC Real Estate
1 vote
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Mon Feb 20, 2012
The process varies in different parts of the country. How you purchased a home in Georgia will be largely similar, but some steps may be different.
I encourage buyers to get their financing worked out early in the planning process. If you are a first time home buyer, you need to factor into your equation the tax benefits while working out your budget.
Everyone knows it costs money to buy a home, but owning a home involves paying for taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs. Buyers should budget for a roof, appliances, plumbing surprises in advance of needing them.
All homes have issues and inspections are a good place to start but the seller, unless it's new construction, won't guarantee or necessarily fix everything.
Homes also are an expression of who we are, how we want to live and be seen. We make many memories in a home and should feel safe, secure and happy about what our home says about us. We may not always afford what we'd most like to have, but that gives us motivation for our next goals.
1 vote
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Mon Feb 20, 2012
Interesting question. That depends as much on the buyer (and what the buyer knows/understands versus doesn't know/doesn't understand) as anything else.

Here are a few possibilities:

The most glaring/most obvious problems are often the easiest to fix. It's amazing how many buyers will reject a home just because it needs new paint or carpet. Those are EASY to fix. Or they'll reject a house because it doesn't have stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Those, too, are EASY to fix. On the other hand, people sometimes overlook incurable problems--proximity to a highway, for instance, or bad room layouts.

Sometimes it's not all about price. Selling a home is an emotional experience, sometimes intensely emotional. Dealing with that can be even more important than making a good offer. And other times, even when emotion isn't playing a big role, price may not be the overriding objective. Sometimes it's selling the house quickly as-is. Sometimes it's terms and conditions--getting the right closing date. Sometimes it's selling, knowing that the house is sold (taking a somewhat lower but much stronger offer).

Hope that helps.
1 vote
Ann.ferguson, , Lynnwood, WA
Wed Feb 22, 2012
The importance of a buyer interview. You've been on the Internet and called an agent to "show me this house." If you are lucky, the broker will ask you to instead come to the office to sit down and talk about what you actually want and need, so that he can find and show you those houses instead of hauling you from one unsuitable house to another. Don't underestimate the time and effort this will save you, not to mention not missing a great home because you were too busy looking at the "wrong" houses. A good broker will find, preview, eliminate those that don't live up to their pictures, and show you the cream of the crop.
0 votes
Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue Feb 21, 2012
Send some time browsing some of the other questions and blogs here, you'll be sure to find some interesting topics!
0 votes
Arron Renfrew, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue Feb 21, 2012
When you are a first time buyer there are plenty of things you don't know so that can be a loaded question. I think one of the biggest ones that I try to coach my clients on is "Actual monthly Expenses".
Coming from apartments some folks are not used to how much Utilities can be. This can some times add a couple hundred dollars a month to what has been budgeted. Another is the expense of maintaining and decorating a home. If you look around you may find that most spend about 1% of the purchase price on average a year maintaining, decorating, furnishing, and otherwise enjoying their home. On the plus side a lot of folks do not know that you can write off the interest portion of your payments on your tax return which can help but ultimately it can be more expensive than you expect and when things go wrong the buck stops with you! Thanks Arron Renfrew http://www.arron.net
Web Reference:  http://RenfrewRE.com
0 votes
Mimi Stewart, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue Feb 21, 2012
Electrical - the outlets look like they are grounded & the lights all seem to work, but are there enough circuits to handle your electrical needs? View protection - how can you be sure that the neighbor to the west won't build a 3 story house that blocks your sound/mountain view? Shared driveways (of which there are many in Seattle) - the neighbor has a small compact car now (and so do you) - what if you both acquire mini-vans in the future? Dry rot and mold - It's wet out here!
0 votes
Jirius Isaac, Agent, Kenmore, WA
Mon Feb 20, 2012
So many things to mention, & most of them already have been mentioned below so no reason to repeat them. the main thing is to get a buyers agent working for you that is well educated, detail oriented & has at least 10 years of full time experience. You also want to get a pre approval before you get going with an agent. I can help you with that if you are buying in Washington State. Just let me know. 206-*841-9976.

I would suggest, that as a buyer, you Google every agent that responds to your question here on Trulia, learn as much as you can about who they are online, read their client testimonials, so you know what their clients are saying about them, and then give us each a call and just ask us why we think you should work with us instead of another agent. This will take you a little while to do, but will be time well spent, as choosing the right agent is the first step towards choosing the right home. Then, pick the best fit for you and let them go to work for you with the skill and knowledge that they have. I hope to hear from you soon.

Jirius George Isaac
Web Reference:  http://www.metromgi.com
0 votes
Hannah Nerbo…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Feb 20, 2012
Wonderful question .....You won't know it (the house), when you see it. You'll see it, when you know it. So, get crystal clear on what you need (versus want) in a house. A great agent will have a fun and interactive process to help you do this without your having to drive all over town looking at properties for him/her to "get it". Consider this key service like the "intake" portion at a doctor's appointment. Importantly, put your dream team of agent and lender in place BEFORE you go looking. After all, it's a long term relationship you are likely to have with you home. This is key, too, because once you find your home, you may have to kick into warp speed and can end up making very expensive mistakes if you don't have your key advisers in place. These experts all need to get along and have the same values as you! You may not know that that is the case until it's too late. All buyers want a terrific negotiator on their side, but how do you define that? Ask your agent to give you their stats. The best buyer's agents also regularly list homes - it helps them to feel the pulse of buyer trends and stay abreast of what is typical in negotiations in a market. This increases your odds of success. Your agent should prepare you a market analysis before you make an offer so you can be sure you are not overpaying for a home. Your team's goals and method of communication should be firmly aligned with your goals and preferred way of communicating. The internet has been such a wonderful development for consumers, but many are lulled into believing they "know" things because they read things on the internet. A great agent with the right expertise, skill, systems/technology, contacts and experience will already know how to help you save and/or make money on your purchase, as well as help you to figure out if you are buying the right house, all the while helping you to maneuver through hidden land mines or, better yet, avoid them altogether! It's like the old carpenter joke. When you're presented with the bill, it says: "10 cent for nail, $100 for knowing where to hammer". Good luck to you, Lynn, on putting your dream team together.
0 votes
Search Advice
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more