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Four Surefire Things First Time Homebuyers Shouldn’t Overlook

Chicago, IL – January 21, 2019 – People often look for a new home if they recently got married and/or had a child. This is a good time to take the next big step in life: purchase a home.  They hire a realtor and start looking at homes that meet their criteria. Does it have a two-car garage? Is it in a good school district? Does it have an updated kitchen with granite countertops, new appliances and an island?

As any real estate agent who has helped many first-time homebuyers find their perfect home knows, the above criteria is the most common amongst this group of homebuyers.  Seldom does anyone ask about the age of the roof. However, it is the agent’s responsibility to educate the homebuyer on important facts like these.  A good real estate agent will always make sure that buyers find out the following:

  1. Age of the roof­– The roof is one of the single most expensive aspects of the home and replacing one is a big, expensive undertaking. Every homebuyer should have an understanding of the age of the roof even before the offer is made.  If the home needs a new one, the buyers can price its replacement into their offer and not have to worry about haggling with the seller for credit after the inspection. Roof replacement costs in Chicago range from $2.50/sf-$10.00/sf depending on the type of material used.  A tear-off roof replacement on a typical home will range from $5000-10,000.
  2. Water Heater– The typical life span of a good water heater is about 10 years. A bad water heater can leak and cause significant damage to a home, which is why understanding the age of the unit is important so a proper plan is in place for replacement. Many water heaters have a manufacturing date right on the label.  Otherwise, this is another question buyers should ask sellers.  Replacement of a typical 50gal water heater can range from $1000-1500.
  3. Heating and Air Conditioning– Furnaces and Water Heaters are typically next to each other in a home, so taking a look at both at the same time is an easy task. While furnace manufacture dates may be difficult to determine, there is often a maintenance log sticker on one of the vents next to the furnace that indicates when it was serviced, by whom and for what.  This sticker may also have the install date.  Older furnaces can go out at the worst time leaving a family without heat during cold winter days, so planning a proper replacement is crucial.  The air conditioning condenser is usually outside, next to the house.  If the unit is rusted and visibly older, it may be time to budget for a replacement in the near future.  While furnaces can last 20-25 years, the life of the AC condenser is shorter at around 15 years.  It is often recommended that when replacing one, homeowners replace both, but that may not always be necessary.  However, when replacement of both is needed, that job can cost between $4,000-10,000, depending on the brand, model and size of the home.
  4. Windows­– Windows are one of the biggest expenses in the home. A replacement of one typical white vinyl double hung window will cost anywhere from $350-500 per window.  This means that replacement of all windows in the house can run at least $5000 and up to $20,000, sometimes more.  When looking at the house with a realtor, check the condition of the windows in different areas of the house.  Try to open/close them to make sure they function properly.

While every homebuyer should have an inspection performed by a licensed home inspector, simply asking questions of the seller and working with an experienced realtor who can help buyers recognize some of these issues earlier in the process can save time and money.  A typical home inspection can cost $500 and this money is not refundable. If the buyers back out at any point, that money is lost.

Dan Cuckovic comments, “If you’re a first-time home buyer, always look for an experienced agent who will help you throughout the process. You need a professional voice in the background reminding you about roofs, water heaters, inspections, and surveys. A pretty home does not necessarily indicate a good purchase.  Making mistakes during the home buying process can be costly. As an agent, I always want my clients to have an excellent experience and I work to make sure that happens.”

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