Being a first-time home buyer can be an exciting and overwhelming time. In Texas, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) works to regulate real estate practices and protect consumers from illegal activities in real estate transactions. TREC also provides a wealth of resources for prospective and current homeowners. Despite that protection, consumers also have a responsibility to be their own advocate in real estate transactions. Here are some things to consider during your first home purchase in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Don’t Skimp on the Home Inspection
When getting your prospective home inspected, there are several ways to avoid problems later.
- Thoroughly research the inspector and read the reviews. You can search for one on the TREC website. If you use an inspector recommended by the real estate agent, make sure you get additional references.
- Choose an inspector affiliated with a professional organization, like the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) or Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors (TAREI).
- Insist on attending the inspection and ask questions. If the inspector refuses to let you attend, find another inspector.
- Any home can have some minor issues, but make sure to investigate and solve major problems or things that could lead to a major problem, like a leak, before the closing.
- Use a checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything important.
Do Your Homework
- Be sure you’re aware of all the costs that go into owning a home. This includes researching the type of loan (such as first-time home buyer loans [FHA] or VA loans for military), estimating your property taxes based on last year’s appraisals, insurance, closing costs, repairs and long-term maintenance, and utility bills.
- Research the house you’re considering. Visually inspect the home yourself and look for troublesome areas, like cracks, slopes, evidence of water damage, or suspicious smells. Use all of your senses inside the home and take your time. Make a list of any questions or issues and bring them up to the home inspector. Better to discover an issue now than after you’re in the home. Also talk to the neighbors, they may be able to provide valuable insights.
- In Texas, because the soil is typically clay, foundation shifting is a common issue to look out for. Other issues to consider are termites, which in Texas can be a challenge, as they’re subterranean (meaning they live in the soil).
Be Cautious of Homeowner Associations (HOA)
A homeowner’s association is responsible for marketing, managing, and selling residential property within a given neighborhood. These organizations have bylaws and deed restrictions, which homeowners are required to follow. Restrictions can vary widely. Dues are also set by the association as either mandatory or voluntary. In recent years, there have been calls from Texas homeowners to reform HOAs. Texas Monthly has previously reported on this issue with an exposé called “Growing Disillusioned with HOAs.” Violations of HOA rules have even led to foreclosures. Be sure to carefully study the documents for an association if you’re considering one.
Home Warranties and Home Insurance
Home warranties and home owner’s insurance are a great way to protect your new investment from unforeseen repairs or disasters. Similar to that of a car warranty, home warranties require certain actions to prevent voiding your warranty. Be sure to read the home warranty contract thoroughly before you sign it. Not all home warranties and home owner’s insurance policies are the same, so be sure to shop around for the best protection.
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