Q&A: Modern Home Buying and Due Diligence for the First-Time Home Buyer

By Bill Gassett

1) What are your recommendations for finding a home to buy online? What recommendations do you have for first-time home buyers in the modern era?

One of the most important aspects of buying a home today is being able to know about properties the instant they hit the market. In most areas of the country real estate is very competitive. At many price points there are a significant number of buyers vying for the same homes. While looking at homes online can be very beneficial, it is critical that you find a real estate agent you can trust. You want a buyer’s agent who will be in your corner, someone who will become your confidant and trusted advisor.

Most real estate agents have property finder sites which allow you to receive email notifications when properties hit the market. This becomes crucial as it can prevent you from missing out on your dream home. First-time home buyers often don’t realize how quickly they have to move in this environment.

It’s essential that buyers have all their financial ducks in a row, including being pre-approved for a mortgage from a reputable lender. A strong buyer equals a confident home seller.

2) What types of due diligence should a first time home buyer complete?

Due diligence is a critical part of buying any home. The research process needs to be focused not just on the home itself, but also on the neighborhood and the city or town. Quite often, first time buyers place too much emphasis on the home and nothing else, and doing so can lead to significant mistakes. The neighborhood and community should be researched thoroughly. For example, does the town have a good school system? While this may not seem like an important consideration now if you don’t have kids, it certainly will when it comes time to sell. Towns with exceptional school systems appreciate faster and hold their value better if there is a market down turn.

Due diligence on the house starts with a home inspection from a professional inspector (not your dad’s contractor friend). Home inspection reveals a lot about a property. You want to make sure you’re not buying a lemon and will have no major structural, mechanical, or safety issues to deal with.

You should also find out any past history on the home that may be important to you. Other important details could be checking to make sure there are no sex offenders nearby or an obnoxious neighbor that plays loud music or has a barking dog.

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