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Things to know before buying a house

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Now might not be the time to be thinking about buying a house, there is a pandemic going on and everything, but if you are here are some things to know before buying a house.

The first thing I'll say is maybe you should reconsider buying a house during this particular pandemic. While things are crazy out there getting a low loan rate, a historically low loan rate, is pretty amazing and that is what the government is forcing through the market right now. They are making money super cheap to borrow. So, even if you don't have money for a down payment you should still consider buying. When I bought my first house I didn't have money for a down payment nor the closing costs so everything was rolled into the principal and my payments just went up a little. For me, at the time it made financial sense and that decision is entirely up to you to work through.

Before you jump in there are a ton of things you should think about when you are looking for your dream home. Many of these things I didn't think of before we bought that first house, but after being in it a while we realized, shoot, should have thought of that.

Things to know before buying a house

I'll write out a list of things that my wife and I wish we would have thought about before we bought a house, but this isn't an end all be all list. There are so many more things to know before buying a house that I might not have even thought of yet.

  1. Be thorough when looking for things that might need fixed

  2. Check out your neighbors, like really check them out

  3. What is the traffic situation like

  4. Is there a fire station nearby, or some other place that makes noise all the time

Let's get into more details

Be thorough when looking for things that might need fixed

A few minor things here and there might seem like no big deal, but they can swell into a whole ball of wax you don't want to deal with, don't have the money to deal with, or don't have the ability to deal with. Typically, most folks can paint without destroying a room, but plumbing, electrical, drywall, all these types of work require specific skills you might not have and would have to pay for.

There are air conditioners, heaters, whole-home humidifiers, thermostats, blinds/shades/window coverings, all of these things should be checked out to make sure they work. If they don't you need to know if you can fix them. If not, put together a list of all the things you will be paying someone else to fix. After a while, these things can really add up. You need to add each and every one of these things to the cost of the house because eventually you will probably have to pay for them to get fixed and that is part of longer-term budget planning.

Check out the neighbors, like really check them out

Stopping by an open house to see if it is the home of your dreams is great. It does have its limits though. If I were trying to sell my home and I had some crazy neighbors I'd ask them to leave during the open house, heck I might even invite them to go someplace just to ensure they are gone when people are looking at my house and determining whether or not to buy it.

If you really want to get a sense of what a neighborhood is like, and what your neighbors are going to be all about you should stop by at least one other time, and I'd suggest at least twice at different times of day. If you can make it to the neighborhood more than once try to swing by early in the day and after dark.

Why early in the day? You get a sense of what time things begin moving around in the neighborhood. Do you have young kids living near that are up late and sleep in late? Does a neighbor work the third shift and drives a Harley? They could come rolling it at 4am, waking you up and your newborn baby. Think about that nightmare for a minute!

Why late in the day? You want to see if there are decent streetlights. It might seem like a small thing, but if you like to take a walk in the evening that just isn't going to happen because you would be walking in the dark through the neighborhood. Also, what if there is a streetlight right outside one of your bedroom windows. You either have to buy blackout shades or turn that room into an office or something. Its little details like this that can have a lasting impact on your happiness within your "dream home".

Last thing about the neighbors, look in their backyards. If there is a bunch of junk lying around, don't buy. If there is a dog kennel that looks well used, you might want to think about how often that poor dog is out there barking like crazy. Does it look like their hobby is collecting old cars, or bikes, or just a bunch of junk? This could be a sign that your neighbor isn't all there and this house should be removed from your dream home list.

What is the traffic situation like?

When my wife and I bought our first home we knew we were close to a school but didn't realize what challenges came with that. It was awesome to have a nice large greenspace nearby to run around in. On the flip side, every morning around 7:30-7:45 am there would be a ton of cars and kids rolling around. This made it tough to get out of our driveway safely right when we needed to start our commute.

Something else to consider is proximity to major outlets. We lived one block from a major artery in our city, but we didn't actually get much noise. For others, the story could be quite different. If you are looking for a nice quiet place you will want it to be a bit further into the neighborhood.

Is there a fire station nearby, or some other place that makes noise all the time

Big time miss on our part. There was a fire station about 2 blocks from our first home and those first few nights were awful. Every time the firetruck left the building we were shocked out of bed. It was traumatic and could be if you have young ones. After a while, we got used to the noise, but still always noticed.

When searching for your dream home look for fire stations, police stations, train tracks, or anything else that could randomly make a ton of noise at some point in the middle of the night and scare the poo out of you.


There is a lot to consider when buying a home and now might be the right time financially and it may not. If it is, I hope these little tips/tricks for ensuring the best possible outcome come in to play for you. Drop me a line with some other interesting things you think should be considered when buying a home.

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