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Your First Home

Posted September 12, 2012 in Advice Column, Norwalk

Norwalk offers many advantages for potential buyers looking to move to our area.

We offer a great school system and for a growing community, a small town feel. Buying that first house can be take be a painstaking process. Some homebuyers can look for months or even years before finding the one.

With such a long and tiring process, it’s easy to get starry-eyed when you finally find the house with the perfect exterior, outdoor space, paint and room size. Within a few months, you’ve bought and moved into your new home. It’s at this point that you suddenly discover that everything isn’t as perfect as you imagined.

Some homebuyers, especially those buying for the first time, get caught up in a situation just like the above by focusing most of their attention on surface conditions instead of red flags, which can be very expensive to fix. Here are a few tips on some common problem areas.

    • Foundation. Foundations are one of the most expensive repairs facing a homeowner. Therefore, it should be one of the first things a homebuyer checks. Look for cracks in the stone or concrete basement walls, brick fireplace wall and around the windows. These can be the first sign of a structurally unsound foundation and should be further inspected by a professional.

    • HVAC. If the home has HVAC to heat and cool it, make sure to ask about the system’s age and operation. Look for poorly connected vents, and watch and listen as the unit runs. Minor issues with the system can reduce how energy efficient the home is and increase electric bills, while a total replacement can cost several thousand dollars in immediate expense.

• Electrical. A home built in or before 1930 could still have knob and tub electrical wiring. Most insurers don’t consider this type of electrical system safe and will charge a higher premium or turn you down entirely. Rewiring the entire home will cost thousands of dollars.

 • Water damage. Homes that have had water damage or leak issues might be hiding several expensive fixes. Look for the signs of past leaks, such as any brown or white stains along the basement, main level and upper level walls, mold growth under sinks and horizontal stains along any bare floors.

   • Look twice. The first walk-through of a home is often with rose-colored glasses. Even if you want to make an offer, return to view the home at least once more.

    • Pricing. Suspiciously priced homes or sudden large price reductions can be indicators of an undisclosed problem, which is why a home inspection is so important.

    • Home inspection. Home inspections can be a buyer’s best friend and a seller’s worst nightmare. Never make an offer before getting a home inspection.

Be safe rather than sorry. First-time homebuyers can avoid many of the pitfalls to buying a home by knowing what red flags to look for and not ignoring them.

Information provided by Mike Lane, Lane Insurance Agency, Inc., 1225 Sunset Drive, (800) 244-4608.

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