Updated on 2021-08-25
In this post, I want to share some things I’ve learned from buying two homes. Any home purchase will probably be the most expensive purchase you will ever make and you definitely don’t want to have buyer’s remorse. Hint: I have buyer’s remorse. I realize that everyone is different and what bother’s some, may not bother others. I’m not even going to discuss the subject of conflicts with neighbors.
Don’t be in a hurry to buy.
My wife and I purchased a town home for our first home purchase. Prior to that, we lived in an apartment, so we had no experience with managing the sale of an existing home and the purchase of the next one. We were juggling getting our town home ready for sale and looking for our next home. I quickly grew tired of looking for our next home and settled on our current home, even though I immediately noted traffic noise during evening rush hour as something that was undesirable. I even initially said no about purchasing our current home, but after thinking it over, I changed my mind. I wanted to get the purchase process over and concentrate on getting our town home ready for sale. That turned out to be a mistake. There turned out to be other undesirables about our current home that are detailed below.
Is there an airport nearby?
My wife and I bought our single family home not far from our previous town home and I knew that an airport was close by (about ten miles), but for whatever reason I didn’t even think about the airport when we decided to purchase our current single family home. At the time we bought our single family home, one of the runways at the airport was shut down for lengthening, so planes weren’t an issue initially. Once the runway re-opened, the planes started landing and getting on my nerves. Our home is very close to one of the main landing routes for commercial passenger planes. The planes are so loud sometimes that you can’t have a conversation on the phone.
Is there street parking in front of the home?
If the street or road is a public road, in general anyone can park there and there’s not much you can do or say about it. One of our neighbors constantly has visitors and they park in front of our house. There have also been a few incidents where our neighbor’s guests have parked in a manner where they were blocking access to our driveway. Sometimes I wonder if the visitors ever stay at their own home. We also have neighbors who have extended family living in the household, meaning multiple vehicles. Sometimes they park in front of our home. Another parking pet peeve is discussed in the next consideration.
Is there multi-family housing nearby?
Think condominiums, apartment complexes, or town home developments; all those types of developments are notorious for not having enough parking for the number of vehicles that residents have, even before mentioning their guests. So, the residents and their guests end up looking for parking in other areas. We have a large town home development across the street behind our property and residents and guests of that community end up parking in our neighborhood, in another single family home neighborhood just up the street from us, and along quite a length of the road behind our home. I can’t tell you how frustrated and angry this makes me and there is nothing you can legally do about it. We paid quite a bit of money for our single family home only to have the privilege of residents and guests from another community parking in our community, sometimes 3 or 4 vehicles parked in front of our house. G-r-r-r-r!!
Are you considering a cul-de-sac or dead-end location?
You might think a cul-de-sac or dead-end would be quiet and they can be, but cu-de-sac’s and dead-end’s can also turn into playgrounds. Are you okay with people coming onto your property to retrieve balls? We don’t live on a cul-de-sac or dead-end, but we have a few in our neighborhood and I’m so glad we didn’t purchase a home in one of those types of locations.
How do you feel about being told what you can and cannot do with your home?
More and more communities are governed by homeowner associations (HOAs). Use your favored search engine and discover some of the horror stories about HOAs. Ours isn’t that bad, but I despise the “mother may I” feeling I get when I want to do something to my home. Our HOA came up with the bright idea (I’m being sarcastic) of having neighbors, whose property line is adjacent to yours, sign off on design applications that you submit. A design application is basically a request to make a change to the exterior of your home. Even something as simple as changing the design or color of something on the exterior of your home can require approval.
Cathedral ceilings look nice, but…
My wife and I went to a house warming for her supervisor when we lived in an apartment. The house had really high cathedral ceilings and I remember telling my wife I wouldn’t want a home like that because it would be a nightmare for maintenance. So what did we do? We bought a home with cathedral ceilings! Cathedral ceilings might appear to be nice and make space more roomy, but they can be a pain when it comes to maintenance.
There’s a smoke detector in our master bedroom, which is one of two rooms in our home with cathedral ceilings. In the past, I was able to use a telescoping ladder to get to the detector to replace the battery. However, with my recent spine issues, there’s no way I’m going to climb up a ladder, straddle the ladder and the top of a set of closets, to change a battery in a smoke detector. I will probably have to hire someone to replace the battery.
I suppose a long driveway can be useful in some circumstances. If your home sits far back from the road, then a long driveway is necessary. A long driveway also provides more off-street parking. However, a long driveway costs more to maintain. Sealcoating a long driveway is more expensive than a shorter driveway. A long driveway is more costly to repave if you have an asphalt driveway. A long driveway takes more work to clear snow, although that can be mitigated by use of a proper snow blower. A long driveway is more work when you cut the grass because you have more area to clean up afterwards. A long driveway is also more work in the fall because there is more area to clear of leaves.
Bay windows provide extra space, but…
We had a bay window in our town home and I said I would never buy another home with a bay window. Our single family home has two of them…face plant. Bay windows do provide some extra interior space, but they can be a pain to maintain because of the multiple edges and corners on the exterior.
Expect problems and/or inferior workmanship.
I could easily write a separate post about the problems and shoddy workmanship I’ve encountered with the two homes my wife and I have owned. Suffice it to say that I’ve been very disappointed with the workmanship I’ve seen in both of the homes we’ve owned. Our town home was brand new and our single family home was only about 4 years old when we bought them. Based on my experiences, I think the American home building industry is sorely in need of a major shakeup.
Undeveloped areas near or around the home?
Undeveloped areas can be nice as they provide a buffer from noise and development. However, in my experience such spaces end up getting developed. It would probably be a good idea to check with the applicable government office to find out what future development may be done to the undeveloped area(s). There was undeveloped land not far from our current home when we moved in and now there is a high-rise office building and a shopping center.
Higher-priced neighborhoods do not necessarily mean the people living there are nicer or more thoughtful.
That was one rude awakening I’ve experienced. I thought that buying a home in a higher-priced neighborhood would mean nicer, more thoughtful people; quite the opposite. Within reason, you’ll probably encounter the same types of people you might encounter in lower-priced neighborhoods.
Don’t completely trust building codes.
The original main water supply line to our home was made of black polybutylene. Even though there were several lawsuits due to the material failing not long before our home was built, black polybutylene still met local building codes.
When we received our quarterly water and sewer bill in May 2016, I was dumbfounded by the amount of water we supposedly used over the previous quarter; 69,000 gallons. The average for the same period was around 21,000 gallons. My first thought was a water leak, but at 69,000 gallons the leak couldn’t be a leaky faucet. There also was no evidence of a hidden interior pipe leak; e.g. water damage, mold, etc. I searched the Internet and learned that we might have a leak in our main supply line and I also learned how to test for such a leak during my research.
I shutoff the water to our home from the main shutoff valve in our basement. I then went out to the water meter near the street curb and checked it. Sure enough, even though the water was completely off in our home, the dial was still spinning, meaning that there was a leak in the main supply line.
I contacted the water and sewer utility company and asked them to come out and verify the leak in our main supply line. Within a few days a technician came out to perform the test and he verified that we did indeed have a leak in our main supply line. I asked the technician where all the water could have gone because there was no evidence of a leak anywhere on our property. The technician didn’t have an answer for me.
I then contacted a plumbing company that had replaced our water heater the prior summer and the manager told me they didn’t do main water supply line work, but he did provide the name of another company. Two days and over $4,000 later, we had a new water supply line installed. I also discovered that other homes in our community had also experienced the same issue after sharing our misfortune with our HOA to warn other community members.
Post header image is courtesy of tkoch at Pixabay.