Skip fixers or communities where the HOA is in bad shape
Rarely do fixer-uppers sell at a big enough discount to compensate for all the work that you need to do to get them in shape. Additionally, you will add value to a property by doing renovations, but probably not as much value as it costs you to make those improvements. Skip the fixers! Also watch out for HOAs in bad financial, operational or legal shape. Higher HOA fees and/or special assessments will be coming your way in these communities.
Go long on your loan, especially with the outrageously low interest rates in the current marketplace. Lock that 3.5 to 4 percent loan, sleep well and look forward to 2042 - when you will actually own your property outright.
All of the above tips can help you reduce your risk and improve your wealth on the largest, most complicated and riskiest thing you will ever do - buy a home. The more you reduce your risk, the higher the chances you'll earn real estate wealth. Good luck!
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Leonard Baron, MBA, CPA, is a San Diego State University Lecturer, a guest blogger on Zillow.com, the author of several books including "Real Estate Ownership, Investment and Due Diligence 101", and loves kicking the tires of a good piece of dirt! See more at ProfessorBaron.com.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.