Are you a renter who is tired of throwing money away? Are you a snowbird who’s just looking to warm up this winter? Well, no matter what your M.O. is, there are five questions you’ll be kicking yourself about if you don’t ask before you buy.
1. How’s the neighborhood?
You want a home that’s accessible to shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. A central location isn’t just convenient for you; it’s an absolute factor in terms of resale and maintaining your home’s value!
2. How are the schools?
Clearly, if you have kids, you want to find the best school district. And if you don’t have kids, consider that potential buyers of your home down the line may have them. To find out where the best schools are (and where you should consider buying), go to the Collier County’s website at //www.collier.k12.fl.us/. You can search for information like AP test and SAT results.
3. Is there Chinese drywall?
Drywall from overseas was often put it in homes during the boom years of 2004 to 2007. Unfortunately, it has sulfur in it, which has been causing a number of problems: ruining electronics, corroding wires, and emitting a smell of rotten eggs. If the home is built with this nasty stuff, it’ll have to be stripped down to the studs and then new drywall installed, which requires tearing your home (and life) apart. The good news is most home inspectors can check this for you before you buy.
4. What are the fees?
Homeowner’s / Condo fees can sneak up on you every month, making a manageable mortgage seem like a monster. The majority of homes sold in SW Florida are in gated communities and maintaining that beautiful landscaping, swimming pool, tennis courts, etc. costs a lot–and it comes communally from the homeowner’s pockets. (That’s why they’re called communities.) These fees vary, so ask your Realtor, because some fees are only a hundred dollars per month, others are thousands month.
5. What are the comps?
Forget about what’s on the market for sale–these are asking prices, not comparison sales prices. You need to look at what has actually closed and sold in the last 6 months and base your offer price on this as well as the condition of the home, location in the community, and historical data and current market trends. Insist that your Realtor provide you with this information–that’s his or her job, and a good one will have it handy.
Asking the right questions will ensure that you and your family find a home that will make you very happy–and hopefully wealthy–over time. Be patient and persistent and your pay will be big.