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9 Deadly Homebuying Sins

Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own ""do-it-yourself"" organizing projects. If you would like to REPRINT or DISTRIBUTE this information, please click here for reprinting instructions.


  • offering a contract above the true market value
  • failing to bid on a great value because you don't know the market
  • avoid this trap by asking for a comparative market analysis
  • get some help to avoid overpaying or underbidding


  • too big or small for future needs
  • a fixer-upper needing too much work
  • too far from work or too close to traffic
  • in the wrong price range
  • avoid this trap by defining your present and future needs
  • know what location is most suitable
  • what level of fixing up is most comfortable
  • how much you can afford for everyday life after moving in


  • some last-minute problems can delay closing
  • such as interest rate or points other than you agreed to
  • can endanger the locked-in interest rate or entire sale
  • avoid this trap by staying away from a too-close closing
  • get a 60-day lock-in for your interest rate
  • give yourself as much time as possible to close the sale


  • some lenders add questionable charges at closing
  • items that were not show on the "truth-in-lending" form
  • "underwriting fee," "loan disbursement charges," "courier fees", etc.
  • markups on court documentation fees
  • avoid this trap by asking for a list of charges at application
  • some fees can be negotiated down or waived if you complain


  • during final walk-through, some serious defects may surface
  • avoid this trap by doing a careful inspection of the house
  • consider an independent home inspector to check inside and out
  • have the inspector report any items needing attention
  • also ask the cost of fixing them and repercussions if left undone
  • contract settlement should be contingent upon inspector's report


  • some items prorated at settlement (taxes and association dues)
  • some have to be paid a few months ahead (hazard insurance)
  • avoid this trap by asking for figures a day or two in advance
  • double-check the charges and ask any questions
  • if settlement date changes, so do some of these pre-paid costs


  • contractual hang-ups can delay settlement
  • repairs not made, items that fail to convey, etc.
  • to avoid this trap, walk through with the list of agreed-upon items
  • check them off one by one
  • set up an escrow fund for items that fall through the cracks


  • a survey may show lot boundaries that differ from the property plat
  • a survey may show a neighbor's fence is over the line
  • a survey may show that zoning regulations have been violated
  • avoid this trap by asking to see the seller's original survey
  • go over any additions or variations with your real estate agent
  • have your new survey done as early as possible


  • a title search may reveal encumbrances on the property title
  • tax liens, easements, leases, or an undisclosed co-owner
  • avoid this trap by having the title search done early
  • buy owner's title insurance to protect your investment


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