Home Buying Mistakes

Buying a new home is a fun and exciting process.  You are choosing a place where you will spend the next several years (or maybe even decades) of your life.  A home is also a major purchase, and is the largest purchase most people will make.  This means you want to be smart when buying and avoid making costly mistakes.  Below is a lit of common mistakes that buyers make when shopping for a new home. buyhome

1. Focusing on the color – Buyers tend to get caught up on superficial details such as room color.  Color is easy to change – you just need to do some painting.  Look past the color of rooms and imagine your favorite colors on the walls instead.  Painting is relatively cheap and easy to change.  Don’t overlook a house over something as trivial as paint.

2. Not doing the research – Don’t buy a home on an impulse.  Do your research before putting in an offer, and certainly during your option period.  Research things such as the school districts, number of foreclosures in the area, flood zones, future construction projects, crime statistics, taxes and insurance.  Talking to neighbors is a great way to get inside information on a neighborhood.

3. Making a list of likes and dislikes – An extensive list can cause a buyer to eliminate great properties and never see the potential of others.  It is fine to have a list of one or two things you absolutely must have and one or two that you cannot have.  Other than that be flexible.  It is difficult to find the perfect house that fits all of your wants exactly.  Keep an open mind and think about how you can make a house perfect for you instead.

4. Getting emotionally attached – Sometimes buyers will find a house and fall in love with it.  This makes you become attached, which can be a bad thing.  Being attached to a house means you are more likely to overlook problems that the rational part of your brain would object to.  Being emotional about a property can make you pay too much and can make you more likely to overlook or justify defects.  Try and stay objective, and be prepared to walk away from the house if the deal becomes bad.

5. Making an offer based off list price and not home value – In a perfect world every house would be listed for sale at fair market value prices.   Most are, however there are many out there that are listed at too high of a price.  The seller might think the house is worth more than it is, or may owe more money than the house is currently worth, thus pricing the house higher that it should be.  Unless the house is truly unique and there are no comparables to it, do a market analysis first and make sure the asking price is in line with what other similar homes are selling for.

6. Not budgeting for extra house needs – Buyers tend to think that their monthly house costs will consist of the mortgage payment, insurance and taxes.  There are always extra costs that you don’t think of, particularly when moving in to a new place for the first time.  These hidden costs might be minor, but they will add up, so you need to be sure to have extra space in your budget for extra expenses.  Some extra expenses include light bulbs, shelf paper, lawn equipment, curtains or blinds, paint, door locks, and furniture.

7. Thinking a personal home is an investment – A house is an investment, but most people have to live in their home for a long time before they see the value increase to over the purchase price and expenses, if ever (depending on current market conditions).  If your sole reason in buying a house is hope of profit one day, you are doing it wrong.  Buy a home wisely so that you will not lose a massive amount of money quickly, but also buy it for the comfort and convenience it will offer you.  Also, negotiate a good deal, but don’t torpedo your dream house over a few thousand dollars just to try to “win” the negotiation.  That amount won’t matter much over the long term anyway.

8. Not planning to stay for 5 years – If there is a good chance you will need to move in under five years, buying might not be the right option for you at this time.  You will incur a lot of fees when selling your house, and unless you bought it way under-value, you will likely lose quite a bit of money selling it within a few years of purchase.

9. Skipping the important inspections – Always get an inspection done on a home before you buy it.  An inspector can help identify problems with the house that are not quickly visible to the untrained eye.  Since a house is a large purchase, don’t skimp out on other inspections either such as a termite inspection or a pool inspection.

10. Buying based on your old market-area prices, not the new market-area prices– House prices vary wildly – from state to state, city to city, and even neighborhood to neighborhood.  If you are moving to a new area, spend some time researching house prices in the new area first.  You want to be sure your expectations are in line with what houses in your new area will cost.

Favorite Way Rent Has Been Paid – Fun Friday Stories

Today’s Fun Friday Story is about my favorite way rent has been paid.  Ten dollar bills

I had a tenant that had gotten behind on rent payments.  I had already given notice to vacate and filed for eviction.  By the time the court date was due, the tenant was behind several months of rent.  At the 11th hour though, they came through and managed to come up with all the back rent that was due, including late fees.  This was a relatively large amount.

The tenant asked if they could pay in cash, which I said was of course fine.  We made arrangements to meet in person so that I could be sure to get it (never trust the mail with cash).  We met up in the local mall parking lot.  When the tenant came out to meet me, they were looking around the area nervously.  They then said that they had a big stack of cash and hoped it was ok.  Cash is cash, so I said it was fine.  The tenant then brought out a huge bag filled with the thousands of dollars of rent owed – all in 10 dollar bills.

The tenant apologized and said that was all the bank had available.  The stack of money was huge.   The tenant was understandably nervous because if any shady person saw us with that money we would immediately be a target for robbery.  They handed the money off to me underhand style.  It felt like I was conducting some illegal deal in a parking lot.  It was actually hilarious.  Even though it was all tens, it was fun to have a stack of money that big in my possession for a while.  It is of course not the recommended way to pay rent, but was kind of awesome.

A Tenant Who Was Not Approved – Fun Friday Stories

This week’s story is about someone who wanted to be a tenant in one of our residences, however they did not get approved.rooster

Tenant applications are straightforward. Most people who get rejected for a home are rejected because of insufficient income, serious credit report problems, history of evictions, or something along those lines. In this particular case, I had a tenant apply and everything seemed fine about the application and no red flags were thrown. I showed them the property and everything looked good.

I was then asked if animals were allowed. This is a very normal question, so I ran through what animals were and were not allowed. They then asked if chickens were ok. In general chickens are not ok, but I try to keep an open mind and find out more about the particular pet in question. After more questioning it comes out that it is not chickens that they have, but roosters. Not just any roosters – fighting roosters. I was appalled to be asked that. Of course I told them that was not allowed and then rejected their tenancy application.

What made this stranger was that the house they were applying for was in a subdivision where houses were close together. Backyards touched each other, so it would only have been a matter of time before neighbors started complaining. I suppose the bright side is that the people actually let out their intentions ahead of time. It was so much easier to just turn down their application than to have them move in and be surprised to find a rooster fighting operation going on in the house later. I guess I dodged a bullet on that one.

How Not to Submit a Repair Request – Fun Friday Stories

This week’s Fun Friday Story is about a tenant that took the wrong approach to submitting a repair request. Stove

The tenant in this story had lived in the house for maybe three months when I got a call one day from them, demanding that we replace the stove. I asked what was wrong with it, and they said it was crooked and their pots wouldn’t stay on the burners. I had never heard of this problem before, so I started asking questions about what they meant when they said their pots were sliding off.

I guess they took my questions and skepticism the wrong way because the next thing I knew they were screaming at me about how the pots always slid off the stove and it almost splashed hot water on their foot and could have burned them and now they were going to sue if we did not replace the stove with a new one. Well, that escalated quickly.

There are a few things wrong with this demand approach they decided to take. The first is that they had apparently been living with this issue for three months but had not said anything about a problem before this dramatic phone call. If the problem was that serious, I should have been notified of it much sooner. Secondly, they demanded a brand new stove. If an appliance has to be replaced, I will replace it. However, if it is a simple repair then I will always try to do the repair first. Crooked burners sounded like an issue that fit in the repair category. The tenants aimed too high in their demand, making them sound unreasonable. And finally, they threatened a lawsuit. This is never a good tactic unless it is truly a last-resort option and all other communication has broken down. This was not the case here, as this phone call was literally the first time I had heard of any problem with the stove. Threats do one of two things – they make you seem unreasonable and overly dramatic, or if it appears legitimate, it will get your complaint forwarded to my lawyer and/or police to handle. Neither one gets the hoped for result.

I knew this tenant fell into the overly dramatic category, so I sent a repair person out to look at the stove. It turned out the burners were just put in crooked, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the stove at all. This cost me a $20 repair visit, which is much better than replacing the appliance with a new one. What made this story more fun was that the tenant regularly paid their rent late. Fun fact – if you are late on rent a landlord is not obligated to make any repairs. It is usually bad idea to call your landlord and threaten with lawsuits when you cannot even follow the basic procedures for paying rent on time and providing notice of repair requests.

Most Destruction in Shortest Amount of Time – Fun Friday Stories

crayonToday’s Fun Friday Story is about my tenant who holds the record for most destruction to a home in the shortest amount of time.

This particular tenant – actually a family of four –  moved into their home in June.  They paid first month’s rent and the deposit with no problem.  July comes around and the tenants had not yet paid rent.  I could not get them on the phone, so I stopped by the house to investigate.  I then noticed that they had moved out of the place.

They had lived there less than one month, but they left behind a huge mess.  They left behind large pieces of broken furniture that had to be hauled out.  There was trash and spoiled food in the refrigerator.  A big hole was in the living room wall.  The worst rooms though were the kids’ rooms.  They had allowed their young kids to draw all over two bedrooms with crayon and markers.  The walls were completely covered and had to be repainted.  They also put up hundreds of tiny star stickers.  To add to the fun, they spilled nail polish all over the bathroom counter and floor.  There was also the usual window blinds being damaged and no cleaning done at all.  All of this accomplished in under a month.

I am not even sure how it was possible they did that much damage in such a short period of time.  The biggest shame was that they did not feel the need to try to pay for their damages.  Their deposit did not cover the lost rent and repairs.  It is tenants like these that make me hate the rental business sometimes.

More Fun Leave-Behinds – Fun Friday Stories

This Fun Friday Story is about some of the more fun items tenants have left behind.  More Lawn moweroften than not, when a tenant moves out they leave some stuff behind.  The majority of stuff is trash – including broken appliances and TVs, dirty old couches, broken dressers, etc.   Usually nothing of value, which is why it was abandoned in the first place.

Sometimes though you get some gems.  There are two items that are a tie for my favorite so far.  The first was a bag of Christmas lights.  By bag, I mean a huge 45 gallon trash bag filled up with probably 50 strands of lights of all colors.  The majority worked too.  That was a fun find, especially due to the randomness of it.  What makes it even better was that this particular tenant only lived in the house for three months before being evicted due to non-payment, and it was summer months that they were there.

My other favorite item left behind was a riding lawn mower.  It seemed fairly new, and best of all was in working condition.  It is rare that you get an item of value actually left behind.  This same tenant of course left trash everywhere too when moving out, but at least there was something fun to find.

Caught in the Act – Fun Friday Story

This week’s Fun Friday story involves surprising a tenant who was in the middle of doing a stealth move-out.   moving-day

I had a tenant who had gotten behind on the rent and had not yet paid for the month.  I was in contact with them about rent, and they promised me that it was coming.  They claimed they were getting paid within the week, then I would have the rent money.  In fact, we had several conversations where the tenant promised to meet me on a Friday and pay the rent.

On Wednesday of the week that the tenant was supposed to meet up with me, I happened to be driving through the neighborhood so decided to take a drive by the house to check things out.  To my surprise, there was a U-haul truck in the driveway being loaded up with household items.  Clearly the tenant was moving out, having not bothered to clue me in on their intentions.   I got out of my car and walked up to the tenant as they were loading some furniture into the truck.  They looked shocked to see me.  Then they looked really nervous.  I of course asked them if they were moving out, and they started stammering excuses about getting a new job and needing to move quickly.

Of course it was a blatant lie.  They were just caught in the act of stealth moving and didn’t know what to do.  It was fairly comical busting them like that.  You could see their brain trying to think of any excuse I might buy that would explain the situation.  The unfunny side was that they still owed rent and now I had to deal with an unexpected tenant move-out.  I don’t know why tenants think it will be easier to make up elaborate stories instead of simply telling me their situation.  I am a reasonable person, and if I know what I am dealing with I can usually work something out.  Unfortunately this tenant opted to do it the hard way, which in the long run turned out to be worse for them.

Leaving Items Behind – Fun Friday Stories

This week’s Fun Friday Story is about a renter who left behind some items and thought we would store them for her indefinitely.

Photo AlbumThe tenants were a girlfriend and boyfriend.  They lived at the house fine for a while until the relationship went bad and they broke up.  The lady moved out first, then apparently the guy had trouble paying the bills on his own because he abandoned the house a few months later.  When cleaning up the property afterward (because of course they left behind a lot of stuff and did not clean), I came across several photo albums.  These were family photos, mostly of the female tenant from when she was young.  They were old photos, and probably irreplaceable.   The kind of thing that someone would want to have.

I did not want to just throw out the photo albums, so I attempted to contact the tenants to try to make arrangements to return them.  i called both the lady and guy and left several phone messages for each over a couple of months.  I also sent emails to the lady and got no response.  I guess since they left the property owing money they were not keen to return my calls, even though I stated why I was contacting them.  Eventually I gave up, and after a few months I trashed the albums.

Six months later, I got a random phone call from the female tenant saying that she had left some personal items in the house, along with a freezer, and wanted to know if we still had them.  I couldn’t believe she thought that we would really store their abandoned items for over six months on the off chance they would one day contact us and want them back.  I had to tell her that we had sold the freezer to try to recoup some of the back-rent, and that we had thrown away the photo albums months ago.  I then asked her about scheduling a payment plan to pay back the rent that was still owed.  Not surprisingly she quickly got off the phone, never to be heard from again.

Moving Checklist

There are so many last minute things to think of when moving to a new home.  Here is a Checklisthandy checklist of items that will help make your transition as smooth as possible:

  • Go through storage areas and toss out unneeded items.  Hold a garage sale if needed.
  • Hire a mover.
  • Ask friends to return loaned items.
  • Ask your doctor and dentist for recommendations in your new town.
  • Ask doctors for copies of renewable prescriptions.  Refill any prescriptions that are due.
  • Arrange to have children’s school and medical records transferred.
  • Find a bank and open checking and savings accounts.
  • Close out old bank accounts before you move.  Clean out your safe deposit box.


Sign up for the following services – and be sure to discontinue them at your old house:

  • Water
  • Gas
  • Waste removal
  • Electric
  • Phone
  • Cable
  • Newspaper

Change of Address

Make sure to change your address on the following:

  • Post office
  • Magazines
  • Credit cards
  • Vehicle registration
  • Employer
  • Insurance – life, fire, house and health


Unpleasant Rental Discoveries – Fun Friday Stories

It’s Friday again, so time for another one of my bizarre rental stories.  This week’s story is one of the more depressing rental experiences I’ve had so far.  It involves animal cruelty.Rabbit

The tenants in one of my rental properties had moved out unexpectedly mid-lease and left no notification they intended to move.  I only discovered the property was abandoned after checking on it one day after rent was late and I was unable to get in touch with the tenants.  This means that the property had been abandoned anywhere from a few days to a week or two before I was made aware.

The tenants kindly left behind the usual mess for me to deal with – trash everywhere, old broken furniture left behind, food in the refrigerator (however luckily they had not yet shut off the power so no food spoilage), holes in walls, that kind of thing.  Annoying stuff, but sadly not that uncommon.  What made this property stand out though was that it had an outdoor storage shed.  I went out to the shed to see what was left behind, hoping for lawn equipment or something that at least had resale value.  To my surprise though I found that they had left behind a rabbit.  This is where it gets bad – the rabbit was left in a 100+ degree storage shed (no air conditioning) with no water, and with some old food scattered on the ground.  It was stifling hot when I went in there.  The poor bunny was just laying on its side, panting heavily.  I had no idea how long it had been in there, but believe it was very close to overheating and death.

The rabbit was obviously a pet, based on the cage and food I found, as well as how it liked being handled by people as I later discovered.  I was shocked.  I could not imagine why anyone would leave behind an animal, let alone a pet, to suffer a horrible death of dehydration or overheating.  That is cruel and inhumane.  I tried getting in touch with the tenants but of course could not get a response.  I was finally able to get in touch with a family member and explained that we had found the rabbit.  The response was “Oh, if they left it they probably don’t want it.  I would just let it go.”  Their solution was to just release the almost-dead bunny into the wild to fend for itself.

Of course that was an unacceptable solution for me.  I did not call animal control as I know rabbits are not commonly accepted into the local shelters, so decided to try my own luck helping the bunny.  I was able to find a friend who agreed to temporarily foster it, then was eventually able to find a permanent home for it.  The bunny turned out to be very sweet and calm, so hopefully it is being a great pet for someone.

I can deal with tenants leaving behind trash, but abandoning animals in a cruel manner is one of the worst things I have encountered, and hope to never find again.