Don’t Forget These Costs of Owning a Home. Inspect, Check, Save, Smile. You’re a homeowner!
Whether you are buying a home in probate or a “regular” home, you are bound to have some costs you forgot about as you looked forward to owning your new home. In a typical, non-probate home, you can hire inspectors to ensure the house you buy passes the rules set up by the California Realtor Board.
Owning a Home Means Many Costs
Here are a few pretty normal ongoing costs, yet we want to remind our buyers of all of these as they budget (especially) for their first home purchase, probate home, or not.
- Utilities can be quite high. Heating or air conditioning a big home can be expensive.
- Property taxes could be a “new” cost for an apartment dweller or someone who has moved from another state or another county or country.
- Appliances. Replacing appliances when the previous owner took the washer-drier, refrigerator, and barbecue can run into a few thousand dollars. Okay. Maybe the barbecue is over the top. But some people take the free-standing stove!
- Homeowners’ insurance. It’s a new expense if you’ve never owned a home.
- Landscaping upkeep. Do it yourself? If you have the time, it’s great, but it may be too much to handle. Don’t forget to budget for it.
- Yearly or biannual odds and ends. Gutter cleaning, chimney sweeping, pest control, tree-trimming, and other not-DIY-friendly tasks that require special equipment and dangerous ladder-climbing.
Homeowners Association or Planned Community Dues in Some Neighborhoods.
For some other ideas, we recommend going to the State of California Department of Real Estate, where you can find many tips on buying homes in the state. For instance, they recommend that once you find a house that meets your family’s needs, you should consider hiring a qualified inspector to check the plumbing, electrical, and structural integrity of the home. The idea is that by having the house assessed for possible repairs before buying it, you’re allowing yourself the chance to negotiate any needed reparations with the seller.
As realtors for many years in Southern California and specifically as probate realtors, we at the CREM Group have seen that maintaining a home requires unexpected expenses for repairs and upkeep. Whether you’re looking in Orange County, LA County, or San Bernardino Counties, these homeowner costs come before the ‘fun’ parts of remodeling and landscaping. But, people sometimes spend on the fun things and have no money left for the uh-oh, ROOF LEAKS surprise. When you decide to buy a home, remember to include a surprise stash in your budget.
How to Minimize “Surprises”
One of the things you can do is to be aware of the Disclosures that are required by the State. Before you buy the home, you are given some useful, basic information about the property.
Two of the most critical disclosures in a residential purchase transaction are the Real Property Disclosure Statement and the Agency Relationship Disclosure.
Real Property Disclosure Statement
The seller completes the disclosure, which covers the property’s physical condition and uncovers potential hazards or known imperfections that may be connected with it. While it is the seller who is mainly accountable for the problems presented in this disclosure statement, the real estate agent is also responsible. As your real estate agents, we conduct a visual inspection of the property (even in probate cases, we do this), and we mention any readily observable defects we find during our review. The Real Property Disclosure Statement also presents any assessments, special taxes, or other elements that may have a significant effect on the property value, and the future costs that might accrue to owning that property. This statement goes a long way toward minimizing surprises.
Agency Relationship Disclosure
As your real estate agents (probate or otherwise), we at the CREM Group are required to provide you with a written document stating whether we are representing you as the buyer exclusively or as the seller only. Sometimes we find that we are acting as a “dual agent” representing both the buyer and the seller. This does not have a specific effect on the homeowner’s costs. However, it is part of making sure you are carefully reviewing and understanding everything that surrounds your purchase, which includes what responsibilities go with the real estate agent of your choice.
What Costs Are the “Worst” Repairs for Destroying Budgets?
Replacing a roof is a huge expense. Plumbing repairs can be nasty-costly. Foundation problems from California earthquakes can break the budget. Flooding and weather-related situations (a tree falls on your home) can be a problem, especially if you haven’t read the fine print on your insurance policy, and it’s not covered, or your deductible isn’t friendly.
In a probate purchase (see our post on fixer-uppers in probate), the home is often marketed and sold “as is.” The house price is usually reduced; however, due diligence requires the same inspections as for any home are completed beforehand. It’s best to do the inspection to ensure that the discount off the probate house’s price is not eaten up by the repairs to make it livable or re-sellable for a profit. As noted, these conservatorship and trust homes can provide a roof over your head if you can wade through the probate process (which can last up to a year). As a probate property seller, you have costs, too, and we covered these items in a post from earlier this year.
What we Recommend for Probate or Regular Home Buyers
All is not gloom and doom. Forewarned is fore-armed, as we always say. We suggest
- Having a good idea of what repairs could be necessary.
- Putting aside money every month to “prepare for the worst.” How much? Some people recommend putting aside an average of 1 to 2% of the home’s value away every year for that rainy-day roof-repair. You may use it in some years, and not others.
- Trying to keep ahead of the catastrophe by repairing weakened or old items around your home. Inspect the roof. Hire a plumber to check the lines every few years. Termites should be handled yearly, or they can eat away your garage or the kids’ playroom if they’re really hungry.
Work with Experienced Individuals
We are a broken record. Surround yourself with people (like the CREM Group) who have knowledge of markets, homes, neighborhoods, and lenders, as you face any kind of real estate transaction, pandemic, probate, conservatorship, trust, or otherwise.
As long time probate real estate agents and as attorneys working in and around all kinds of properties in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, the CREM Group has made sure we support our clients, so they know the alternatives to buying, selling, or renting probate, trust, and conservatorship homes and commercial properties in California.
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As always, contact us by email here if you have any questions about real estate, probate real estate, conservatorship, or trust real estate properties, especially in Los Angeles and Orange Counties in California.
Mark Cianciulli, Esq.
Daniel Taylor, Esq.
DISCLAIMER: This content is meant purely for educational purposes. It contains only general information about real estate and legal matters. It is NOT legal advice and should not be treated as such. We recommend consulting a legal or tax professional before acting on any material, opinion, or point of view described herein.
COVID-19 Safety. As all of us at the CREM Group market and sell our inventory of probate, trust, and conservatorship homes for our clients, we adhere to the COVID-19 regulations set by the California Association of Realtors.