Buying a home after renting for over half my adult life was a really big deal. The idea of being tied to a monthly mortgage payment was scary, but when I considered the thousands of dollars I had paid out in rent over the years, I realized I had nothing to show for my money. At least having a monthly obligation for a house I owned would mean having an investment in my future.
My family warned me to consider all the extras that would be involved in owning a home, such as property taxes, maintenance expenses and higher utility costs. I got some help from the real estate agent I contacted to determine what type of payment I could handle based on my budget. This was my first home purchase and I did not want to be hit with any nasty little surprises.
The Realtor and I came up with a figure I knew I could comfortably afford for a home purchase and we set out to find the perfect house. It took about 6 weeks, but after seeing a number of houses on the market in the area I wanted to live, he showed me a gorgeous 2-bedroom house overlooking the river that needed a few improvements.
The house was right in my price range and I knew I was capable of doing many of the small aesthetic upgrades myself, such as painting the exterior walls. I had a contractor friend come over to check the house for any obvious structural damages that would influence my decision to buy. He gave the house a bill of good health and 3 weeks later I had the key to my new home!
What I did not know until after I lived in the house for a couple of months was that there had been a roof leak that created a lot of water damage in the ceilings and walls. The dampness in the insulation on one side of the house created the perfect environment for black mold to propagate. There was no way any of us could have known, because the interior of the house had been freshly painted and the telltale signs of water damage had been hidden.
I had to take out a loan to cover the costs of repairing the water damage and removing the black mold. It was a very trying experience. Now I know that a roofing contractor could easily have detected the water damage using infrared scanning equipment. My advice to anyone getting ready to buy a house is to get a roofing company to inspect it before you sign on the dotted line.
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