Sun, Aug 10, 2008

The New Paper

Found your dream home?

By Suze Orman

FOR most people, the decision to buy a home hits like love at first sight: After endless rounds of dating, you finally find that special one.

You walk in the front door and swoon over the refinished hardwood floors.

Your eyes lock on the high ceilings.

Your heart pounds at the fabulous kitchen and the huge yard.

While I totally understand leading with your heart, use your head too.

Before saying 'I do' to one of the biggest financial commitments of your life, you need to follow up with a few repeat visits checking out every nook and cranny for big-ticket problems.

If you're buying directly from the developer, please don't get snookered into believing new means perfect.

Every single house or apartment needs a thorough inspection.


* Cast your eye high and low, to and fro, to spot cracks or leaks outside your 'normal' field of vision.

* If the current owners are still in residence, move their furniture. That means pulling every dresser away from the wall, especially under windows, to check for leaks, cracks and incomplete paint jobs.

* Pull back the rugs - you never can tell what those fine threads are hiding.

* Visit at different times of the day and night to gauge street noise.

* Turn on as many kitchen appliances as possible, simultaneously, to see whether the electrical system can handle the strain.

* Turn on every light in every room. And bring a small appliance to plug in to outlets to see if they work. (Your phone charger is handy for this.)

* While the dishwasher and the washing machine are running, head to the shower and turn on the hot tap. What about the water pressure and the temperature? What happens when you flush the toilet?

* Ring the doorbell, and test the alarm if there is one.

* Find out if the neighbours own any dogs. If they have an aggressive breed and you don't have a fence, perhaps this isn't the best backyard for your toddler.

* If you're buying an apartment, ask residents next door, above, and below to turn on their stereos and television sets and just walk around.

* Get estimates for ongoing maintenance: In a condominium, find out how many times the common charges have been raised during the past five years and by how much.

This article was first published in The New Paper on Aug 9, 2008.