Buying a Home - Uniontown,PA

Updated on June 15, 2010
L.P. asks from Uniontown, PA
14 answers

We are in the beginning stages of planning to buy a home. I know many of you have been through this process, and I am just looking for any wisdom or experience you can share about things to do, not to do, steps to take, etc.

Also, do any of you know of any government programs, breaks, etc. for first time home buyers?

Thanks for any info!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

You have received a lot of good responses and info. Once you have found some houses you are interested by houses at different times and days. When we were looking we found a few we really liked but after going by several times realized the neighbors must have had teenagers or just lots of friends, there seemed to always be lots of cars and people hanging in the garage with loud music playing. Once we drove by after a hard rain and the street didn't drain well and the water pooled in the yard and driveway. One had large and loud barking dogs that always seemed to be outside. How well do the neighbors keep up with their yard and house exterior.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Don't overspend or overextend yourself! YOU know what you can afford. And know that taxes a re added TO the mortgage payment. When I bought my first home (I was single at the time) I was almost 30 years old and pre-approved for over $1200/month mortgage payment. (That would have been about a 100K house) Instead, I bought a small 50K home and had a mortgage of about half of what I was approved for. Just be careful--I would have been eating ALPO and my dog would have been dead if I had to come up with an additional $500/mo for the larger amount!
Try, if you can to swing a 15 year fixed mortgage instead of a 30 year. Even if you need to settle for a little less house. Or at the very least, pay an additional 1/12th or your mortgage amount on the principle each month (that equals 1 extra payment per year) and a 30 yr. mortgage will be paid off in 20.
Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Have at least 3-5 months of mortgage payments set aside, this is in addition to whatever you plan on spending to renovate/remodel/decorate. You should also begin paying that mortgage now into your savings account so you can a feel of what it will be like. You want to also ask about how much to expect in utilities, taxes and maintanace on the house.

It was vital for me to go with my gut in the process of buying my first home solo...if it doesnt sound right, feel right of look right DON'T DO IT! You are at no ones mercy in this process. Interview your realtor before you agree to using them. I went through a few before I found someone that was actually willing to work. AND DO NOT use a friend, its harder to tell them you they arent working as aggresively as you'd like etc.

I used an FHA loan here in CA you may want to look into that, its federal...only 3% down and a cap on interested, you do have to stick with it for 5 years i believe. Pay off any debts you have asap and dont fall in love with any house until its yours, the disappointment can be heartbreaking for some. Its defintely a process so remember that, be paitent and if you dont have the time to wait dont bother looking at short-sales, go for a foreclosed home which can still take some time but not 6 months usually, or a straight sale is your best bet. Good luck!

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answers from Indianapolis on

There are a few additional things I'll add having bought 3 and sold 2 houses in a little less than 5 years (yes, that's one of the regrets).

The current housing market proves you're likely not going to make money for a while. So, purchase something you can see yourself being in for several years and will grow with your family.

Anticipate the unexpected. Just because you're approved for a certain amount doesn't mean that is what you should spend. Take into consideration taxes, utilities, a contingency fund for unexpected repairs to the house or appliances (a new water heater is going to be a few thousand dollars with labor, for example).

Take into consideration the school system, any plans for development in the area (will traffic be affected by a new WalMart going in across the street?), traffic on the street (we moved after 3 years of owning a brand new home because traffic on the street was an issue).

You won't be able to choose your neighbors, but spend a lot of time at a potential house at different times/day to see what the neighbors are like, if they throw a lot of parties that may make it noisy, are there kids the same ages as your kids, etc.

If you're only planning on being there a few years, don't be afraid to do an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (we did a 7-1 ARM anticipating to be in this house 7 years). We have done it twice and gotten good rates. A good credit score helped us refinance a great rate on a 30 year fixed last year.
Any additional payments you can make towards principle are to your advantage. So, while you may not want to do a 15 year mortgage, you may be able to reduce 8 years off your current mortgage by making the equivalent of 1 extra mortgage payment/year.

Take commuting times into consideration. The houses on the south side of Indianapolis are considerably less expensive than they are where we live, but all the areas we spend time in are on the north side of town, so the time we save, and the gas $ we save is worth the extra cost of the home.

Don't forget how the number of bedrooms/bathrooms, size of the yard, size of the garage will affect it down the road when you're going to sell it. Just like when you make upgrades to the home, even though you should make it a house you want to live in, most experts will tell you to select mainstream finishes to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.

Look at many, many, many homes. Follow your instincts. You'll know when you've found the right one. My mom looked at over 300 homes before they bought theirs. They've lived in it 25 years even though she's never loved it -something must be right to have stayed there that long.

Good luck! It will all fall into place.

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answers from Boise on

My tip would be to get a very experienced realtor,( and one with morals. )There is a huge amount of people in realty, and you have to sort through alot to find a gem.

Anyone who only has 1-10 years of realty experience is not enough. Look for someone who has 20 years or more. I just tried to sell my home in CA using an rather inexperienced realtor,(9 yrs) and my deal completely fell apart because of her incompetence. I had a choice between her (in my husbands lead group) or our 30 year broker who had sold our previous house and did a great job. We chose her because she was a Christian so we thought wed give her a chance.. Her first visit to us, she looked professional, and then she started showing up in sweats and a baseball cap. Many a phone conversation was cut short because she had to run and pick up her daughter. When I had an open house, she used "garage sale" sawhorse signs because she had not planned ahead and all the other agents had taken the home open signs. The slopiness just keep adding up. My sale bombed (loong story) and we fired her and hired our 30 yr agent who had sold our first house. The difference- just in the professionalism of the flier -was amazing. He got our house sold.

My first mistake was not choosing someone who's job was the breadwinner for the family. She clearly was a part timer. I don't hire women realtors anymore - I always hire men. Then there is no question about it, their livelihood depends on that job. But that's just me.

When I came here to Boise last year to look at housing to buy, I had a 6 year realtor. (that was before my CA realtor fiasco.)This year I dropped him and got me a 25 year realtor who is also the broker/ owner of the company. The difference in the level of knowledge was HUGE. HUGE. He told me all kinds of info about the areas I was looking at that the first guy never did. He kept me from buying in less desireable part of the area. I am SO GLAD I switched. My confidence in him is 100%. And I will tell you, in this day and age, that is more important than ever. Realty is screwy right now, all kind of odd things are happening that these guys have never seen, even since the beginning of their careers.

My broker puta a clause in our home purchasing contracts that states that we as buyers could get out of the purchase of the said house for ANY reason within the 10 day window and get a full refund on our deposit . This is a good clause to have, especially now, because a lot of homes on the market are not coming with full disclosures, or any disclosures. We actually used this clause to our benefit once, after we found out that we wouldn't be able to put A/C in without the vent tubes hanging down into the room.
It is worth it to try to find a house with no HOA or mello roos. Everyone I have talked to that was in one either got the heck out or wish that they could.
Many times there is animosity created between neighbors because of them. Not to mention the fact that you have no control over your property, and it is like you are paying an extra rent fee on your property.

Watch out for foreclosures in which the buyer sometimes ends up paying for all the liens on the property, anything from back taxes to back HOA fees. You will have to do a lot of digging to find this info. The best deal of all is bank owned (REO) or a house in regular sale. Even houses in a regular sale are selling under price because their appraisal value is being pulled down by the foreclosures. You can get a home in excellent shape and updated, instead of trashed like most foreclosures are.

If you find a house you want to buy TALK TO THE NEIGHBORS. Go to 2 or 3 surrounding homes and pick their brains. You will learn a heap.
We learned that the home we wanted to purchase had been on the market for 2 years prior, and the owner had cancer and was divorcing- this info puts any buyer in a better negotional spot.. We also learned that her brother and father lived next door and behind the property and were anti social, that there was a bad mosquito problem , barking dogs, and there were no kids on the block!

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answers from Eugene on

I would use a buyers real estate broker or realtor. There is so many thing in buying a home. Over here in Oregon I do know there are first time home buyers asstance and programs availible, however, they usually have contingencies to look at to. Make a list of things that you feel are important in buying your home, but remember to give and take because finding everything you want in a home is usually very difficult. If you have a great realtor, they usually will know a good loan officer or vice versa..There are closing costs and other things to pay for too, so it is good to know what you are looking at. I would recommend getting inspections done on the home. Banks will require a clean pest and dryrot inspection because they will not loan on homes that are not in living condition. A realtor will know all of this of course....There is more to know and if you have questions, feel free to ask. I was a real estate broker here for over 3 years before staying home with the kids!! Good luck and have fun in your search!! I agree too with the other post.. Don't over spend in your budget. Taxes are added to the monthly payment as well as mortgage insurance if you do not have 20% down.. At least that is what used to be here, but not sure what is all happening now with the change of the housing bubble!!!

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answers from New York on

Congratulations. Buying a new home can be both exciting and stressful.

Get you credit in order. The better your credit score the easier the process of getting a loan. Also, decide how much of a down payment you'll be making, and make sure you have enough for closing costs.

Start by getting preapproved for a mortgage. I found that a mortgage broker was best for us. They will tell you how much of a home you can afford (haha). Whatever they tell you, the actual amount should be about 80% of that. (so if they say $200,000, consider $180,000 as the highest amount). They will tell you what the current interest rates are. Note: that the interest rates can go up or down from the time your preapproved to the time you actually get the loan. They will also give you an estimate of what your P&I (principal and interest) payments will be. Keep in mind that you will also have to have your property taxes and possibly PMI added to that amount. PMI is private mortgage insurance. It's required if the downpayment is less than 20%. It's the mortgage companies policy but you pay for it.

Your mortgage broker and real estate agent should be able to let you know of any government programs or government loans that you may qualify for.

Find a good real estate agent.

Of course things change over the years, and you never know what will happen, but you should have an idea of how long you're planning on staying in this house. Are you going to live happily ever after and retire in this home, is there a good chance that you may want to relocate in 5 years. This will help you decide on the type of mortgage that is best for you. Also, everything these days is about resale value. So if this is happily ever after, resale value doesn't matter, get what you want in your home.

Make a list of the things that you want in a home. What is extremely important, what you might refer to as deal breakers. What you may want, but can live without.

Be sure to ask about the schools in the area. Things to keep in mind, will your children need to walk, how far is it? Just a thought, in 4 years our middle school has gone downhill tremendously.

Before making a final decission, check out the neighborhood. If possible, park your car and walk around. Don't be afraid to stop and talk to anyone who may be sitting outside.

When you walk thru a home, picture yourself living in it. Think about your lifestyle. All this "staging" that realtors do, drives me nuts. They make it look like a catalog. Picture things like, where would I put the tv. A bedroom may be staged as an office, but if you're going to need it as a bedroom, think would the bed fit in here, what about the oversized dresser we have. Don't worry about things like the color of the walls, that can easily be changed. One of my biggest regrets, we have hardwood floors that I knew would need to be refinished within a few years of buying the house. Once you're living in the house, it's close to impossible to have the floors redone.

Bring a camera with you. If you see a house that you're really considering, take a few shots, which will help you to remember.

Don't overlook appliances. Many houses include them, some do not. Since this is a big ticket item, take it into account when considering making an offer on a house.

Best of luck to you.

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answers from Kansas City on

I made out a printed sheet with categories on it. Things that were a must, like double vanity in MB-bath, open kitchen, finished basement. Then I was able to circle those things easily. I also put MB, 2ndary bedrooms, living area etc. and that way I could jot down notes as we went through. After you go through 10 houses you can't remember anything. I was able to sort my pages into yes, no, and maybe piles which made it a lot easier. Try to have an open mind when you go into a house. Don't get caught up in the decorating or the paint colors. All of that can be changed. Look at the body of the house and see if it fits your needs. Do not buy more house than you can afford. Also, keep in mind the added extras that come with a house, taxes, insurance, home maintenence.

Hire a good realtor from a recommendation. I wouldn't use a family member or a friend simply because there could be some hard feelings if things don't work out. Buying a house can be very stressful and if something didn't work out I didn't want to be upset with a friend/family member.

See if seller will purchase a home warranty. Also, include in your contract that you will pay for a radon test, and if it is positive the seller will have to pay to put in the pump. We had radon in our new house and a pump is $800 +. Radon is a dangerous, ordorless gas that can cause lung cancer.

do not sign the mortgage until you do a final walk through when all their stuff it out. We did a walk through before they moved, only to find out later that they left the house filthy and there was a big patch in the carpet that had been covered up by furniture.

Figure out what neighborhoods you want to be in and drive through at different times of day. Gives you an idea of the neighborhood.

that's all I can think of right now. I'm sure you will get lots of good suggestions. Good luck and congrats!

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answers from Des Moines on

Don't think about the things that you can easily change yourself! I always watch those shows about home buying on HGTV and I can't stand the people who walk into a room and say they don't like the paint color! Seriously, paint is the easiest thing to change! Also, make a pros/cons list of things your and your family wants/needs. My hubby and I made a list of the things that we needed to have in a home(ie...I needed a basement, good sized backyard and a window over the kitchen sink) and then we made a list of the things that we wanted to have, but didn't need(ie...a fenced in backyard).

Just have fun when looking for houses! We actually bought the first house we ever looked at! It was perfect for us(we did look at others though!). Good luck and have fun!!!

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answers from Jacksonville on

Here's my bit of wisdom:
1) Do NOT buy anything without an inspection from an inspector YOU choose. You may have to pay out of pocket for it yourself, but you may not really want to use someone suggested by your real estate agent. They ALL benefit by getting you to buy... so they (intentionally or not) WANT things to be good so a sale will go through. Just food for thought. At the very least, insist on an inspection in the terms of your offer.

2) Get yourself pre-approved for a loan, not just pre-qualified. Pre-qualified really just gives your agent an idea of what you will likely be able to qualify as far as a total mortgage amount. But it doesn't really do anything to start the loan process for you (something that might be important when you find the home you want... the buyer may not have 2 months for you jump through hoops to get your mortgage house in order to get the closing done).

3) NEVER take out a mortgage for as much as you 'qualify' for! You will qualify for far more than you can AFFORD. Qualifying and affording are NOT the same thing.
4) Know these terms: PMI (private mortgage insurance) and PITI (they call it "pity").. P (principal) I (interest) T (taxes) and I (insurance). This is what typically comprises your mortgage payment.

Often, when dealing with the mortgage company, they will quote you only the PI... not including the TI. But almost always, they are all included in your payment. The TI goes into an escrow account that makes sure you have the $ for the taxes and insurance. And if you do not have at LEAST (maybe more now that the current mortgage loan/housing market is what it is these days) 20% down, then you will be required to pay PMI, and they may or may not mention this right up front. It does NOTHING to benefit YOU, only covers the loan for the mortgage company if you default! YOU get no benefit at all. But YOU have to pay for their benefit. So you want to avoid this at all costs... not realizing this the first time we bought a home, it cost us about $70/month (before we refinanced/got a new appraisal 2 years later and got rid of it).

When deciding how much you can AFFORD each month, YOU need to know what the total for all of this will be.

Always ask for the tax records on the property you are considering. With it being your first home, you might be surprised how much tax you will be paying on your property. The annual taxes on our first home were about $3,000 by the time we sold it. That means about $250/month had to be set aside (either by us ourselves, or paid into the escrow account with our mortgage) all year long, in order to pay the taxes at the end of the year. And as your locality adjusts their millage rate, your taxes can fluctuate from year to year. Also, you will be required to carry homeowner's insurance, and possible flood insurance, and that often is paid out of an escrow account with your mortgage also... That can easily add another $70 month to your "mortgage" payment.

Do your research into what the current rates are and shop around. Different companies may offer you the same mortgage interest RATES, but have VERY different COSTS to take out the mortgage! (points, fees, etc) So do your research...
When you find out about how much home you can AFFORD, then you can start shopping and feel good about it. You don't want to look at homes above your price range. (the one YOU set, not the realtor who may try to steer you towards what you 'qualify' for).

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answers from Austin on

DO NOT do owner finance that is what we did and i regret doing it..its a pain in the butt

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answers from Fayetteville on

We just bought our house 3 months ago but it took us 6 months to finalize it!!!! The things you have to do now days to get a home are rediculous we almost gave up several time you just need a good mortgage person who is willing to jump through hoops for you. we also sent in for our fist time home buyers tax credit febuary 13th (its a refund up to 8000.00 for first time home buyers) and have yet to see it the first time we called the IRS said they got it and were working on it but the next time we called they said they never recived it so we had to send it again and still wating!! Patients are a must when buying a house!!! Good Luck.

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answers from Lansing on

Try to look at several houses before you decide on one house. Remember, you probably won't find your perfect house but instead will find one that is close to your specifications. I think the first time home buyers credit ended at the end of April but look into government loans, HUD, etc. Don't be afraid to look at homes that are priced just a few thousand $$ (no more than 5,000) above your maximum approval amount because you can always negotiate the asking price down. Check the major areas of a house, foundation, roofing, electrical, plumbing, heating, windows, insulation, basement for water leakage/mold/asbestos etc. Check the neighborhood and when you find a house drive through the neighborhood during different times of the day, morning, afternoon, night to get a feel for the neighborhood. A home inspection will be necessary before signing but keep in mind that a home inspector will only check the visible areas, they can't see the plumbing, electrical, etc. behind walls, underground, etc. and won't try to inspect those areas. A bug inspector can check for termit and ant infestation and damage. Hope this helps.

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answers from Spokane on

My best piece of advice to you would be to take your time looking for the perfect house...and don't get discouraged if you think you have found the perfect one, then something happens and it doesn't work out...everything happens for a reason. When we were looking to buy a house we took our time and seriously looked at everything there was out there...we looked at 152 houses before we found our current house! At about house number 70 we thought we found THE ONE and put in an offer but got outbid, we were so very disappointed but we didn't give up and the one we eventually bought was a thousand times nicer than the one we lost!

Also, be prepared to jump thru a million hoops! The amount of financial information they need from you is staggering!

Good Luck and Happy House Hunting!

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