How not to buy a problem house? You might want to buy a house, but there are many factors to consider before you know if you’re actually ready for such a big step.
Since the housing bubble burst and prices dropped, you hear a lot of people saying that it’s a great time to buy a house. For some that may be true: Interest rates are low, and there are some great bargains on the market. Housing prices and interest rates aren’t the only factors when you’re considering homeownership, though, and there are times when renting is still the best option.
Even with lower home prices, there are a lot of responsibilities and additional expenses that go along with homeownership. From paying for maintenance to maintaining your ability to move, there’s more to consider than just that mortgage payment.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why you might not want to buy a house.
Previous Maintenance - If you're not an expert, you may not know what makes a foundation unsafe or how leaky that roof will be in a downpour. How well have the previous owners cared for the house? Before you purchase a home, it's important to have a trustworthy home inspector come out and take a look at the shape it's in. A home inspector can tell you how long that roof is going to last and estimate when you'll need to do other costly repairs, like replace the hot water heater or overhaul the HVAC. Keep in mind that what seems like an affordable home can become less affordable if you have to make these large repairs within a few years of purchasing.
Caring for a Home - When you're renting and the pipes burst, you can call your landlord, and a maintenance person will come out to fix it. As a homeowner, you're your own landlord, and all of those little hiccups become your problem. It's your responsibility to maintain the lawn, fix things that break (or pay a handyman) and keep up with aesthetic maintenance, like painting the porch and shoveling the driveway when it snows. Are you ready to take on the time and expense involved in maintaining a home? If you're not prepared to care for your property, it might not be time to buy a house.
Rent vs. Own - If you're currently renting an apartment or home, you may be eager to purchase your own space. Don't move too quickly, though! Look at how much rentals are going for in the area in which you're thinking about buying, and compare prices. When researching home prices, it might seem a little counterintuitive to look into rental costs, but this is definitely something to consider. Compare average rent prices in the area with your total monthly payment, including taxes and insurance. If owning a house costs 35 percent more than renting, it might not be a good time to buy in that particular neighborhood.
Must Haves - Don't forget: A house is probably the biggest purchase you'll ever make, and you don't want to end up in a home you're not happy with. Money issues aside, there are plenty of other things to consider. Often, it's easy in the midst of house hunting to lose sight of what you want. Before you start, make a list of must-haves, and don't settle! Is it important to you to live within walking distance of public transportation? Would you be miserable with a tiny kitchen? If you can't afford a home that either accommodates your list or that you could renovate easily, then it's not the home for you.