Choose Your Contractor Wisely

Continuing with our last post in regards to ensuring that your home ends up being an investment instead of a money pit, there are a few more things to keep in mind. If you are like me, DIY options and home improvements are pretty much out of the question as I have never had to do any real construction work in my career and hiring the professionals is often your only option.

Licensed & Insured

The great thing about not really being a “handy man” is that you have loads of options as far as choosing the right contractor to do whatever repairs or improvements you need. This means that you don’t always have to go with the first company you find and you really should never settle for something that is as important as your home.

liceUsing my friend as a real life example again, there are a few steps that he took to make sure he was making the right choice. The most important thing to do is to ensure they are licensed and insured. There are a lot of companies out there who aren’t as honest as we would like to think and will be hesitant to show you any real paperwork as far as insurance or licenses go. This is a huge red flag and you should continue your search if there is any hesitation.

Get To Know Your Contractor

So once you have seen their paperwork and everything is in order, you can start checking things off the “not as important” list. Don’t be afraid to get to know the contractors you are hiring and to use your gut in deciding whether or not they are someone you want to do work on your house. Just like my friend was, you might be wondering how to start looking and where to hire professional roofers. Well we live in a day and age where the internet is your friend and is there to help you find absolutely anything you need.

All of this applies to any apartment or business owners as well and not just for home owners. Construction for offices and buildings entails the same process and should be taken even more seriously because these tend to be much larger investments.

If You Do Own…

If you are among the many that find owning a home much more desirable than renting, there are a few things that you can do to protect the value of your home to make sure that you get as much as you can out of your big investment. Remember that the biggest factor that makes people feel like owning is worth it is that you at least get a return on your investment.

Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune

diySo if you want to avoid being in the situation that my buddy was in and that I talked about, there are a number of things that you can do and you don’t have to be a professional to do them. Unless you feel that there are any serious issues inside the walls of your home or in places that you can’t necessarily see, you can do a lot of work on your own accord that can potentially greatly increase the overall value of your home when you are ready to sell.

The DIY Network is a great resource for those out there who have no prior experience in home improvement work. They cover a lot of random things that greatly improves the state of being for any home and when the time comes for you to list it on the market, you can bet that any hard work you put into your home will show in the actual value that your home will be appraised for.

Home Inspections

Now that I done my job and given you the advice that I feel needs to be given to anyone considering purchasing a home, I can give you a real life example of someone not taking my advice and how it cost them thousands of dollars. The one thing that absolutely everyone needs to do before buying a house is having a professional and certified home inspector come and do a full evaluation to let you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.

You Can’t See Everything

A few days ago I mentioned a friend of mine who was faced with damage done to the roof and gutters of his house after a bad storm and at the end of the day, ended up costing him thousands of dollars in repairs that he definitely did not just have lying around ready to pour into his new “investment.” Granted, he did get the house at an auction for a very low price but you get what you pay for.

repairHe did not have a proper inspection done or the necessary paperwork to file any claims in regards to anything that might be damaged to his house. He was confident that his own non-professional inspection was enough and that everything appeared to be in working order.

This is one of the biggest mistakes new home owners make because almost all of the problems a house has cannot be seen just by walking around and taking a look with an untrained eye.

Now that the home is his, he isn’t really trying to spare any expenses and has already spent way more than he ever planned on before purchasing the house. He did the right thing by having the guttering done by a professional company at and made sure they were licensed & insured. This is to make sure that if he ever decides to sell the house, the new buyers won’t be in the same position he was stuck in. If you are like he was and had no idea how much gutters cost, let me tell you that they are not cheap.

This doesn’t even include the damage and the bill that he got for his new roof as well. But I will save that for another day.

If You Do Buy…

I think it has been pretty apparent so far that for the most part, I really don’t see the pros of owning a house outweighing the pros of renting. Maybe it is because I have worked for an apartment company myself or it could be the fact that I kind of enjoy having the least amount of responsibilities as possible, but I don’t really see myself ever purchasing and eventually owning my own place.

I have seen and know a lot of people who made the plunge into home owning and I always have one piece of advice for them.

Do The Math and Make it An Investment

inspectIf you are considering purchasing a home or condo, make take more than simply your monthly payment into consideration and sit down with a professional to actually do the math on what you are buying. It is important to make sure that the home you are buying is actually going to be a worthy investment when your loan is all paid off. That’s the whole point of owning a home, right?

At the end of the day, you want to at least make your money back. Always get a proper home inspection to take a look at your house before you buy and get a full evaluation. Do the math on what you will need to put in, and what you are going to potentially be getting out of this huge commitment.

Renters’ Rights

When you sign a lease for an apartment, not many people actually go through and read through all of the small print already having the assumption that it is filled with standard corporate language just repeating over and over how they are not responsible for when things go wrong.

Well being a former employee for Harbor Edge Apartments, I can tell you that it is actually quite the opposite. The majority of the small print over the numerous pages of a contract usually consists of the rights that you have as a tenant and how your landlord is actually responsible for quite a lot of different scenarios.

Actually Read It!

tractDuring my time at the apartments, I dealt with a lot of renters that would come to me complaining about certain problems and they were always frantic at how much money it was going to cost them or they had no way of fixing them. I was always happy to go over the contract with them and reassure them that all of the responsibility falls on us and that we would be happy to take care of the situation for them.

It always surprised me how often this happened and how few people actually knew all of their rights as renters. If these people knew how much money they could be saving by just taking the time to actually read their contract they might be more persuaded to continue renting instead of owning like me!

It Isn’t Yours

The great thing about renting through an apartment and not owning your own home is that it simply is not yours. Now this might seem like a con for most people when you just read it, but hear me out.

Less Responsibility

rent1Going back to my buddy with the damaged roof, the responsibility of fixing it (and fixing it right) lies solely and completely on him. That means that obviously all of the costs of repairs, replacements, and damages comes directly out of his pocket but there is even more to consider than that. Now that he is faced with basically a “broken” house, he is responsible for how he wants to repair all of the damage.

Now that you own your own house, it is up to you to decide if you want to make it a quick fix and let the next sap who buys your house deal with it, or put in some real money like a good guy and prevent this from happening again. This was the decision left with my friend and he was one of the good guys and went all out with his repairs and replacements.

This was one of the features he had installed on his house and let me tell you, it was not cheap. When you are still renting however, these kinds of decisions are non-existent because you don’t own anything! All of these hard choices and expensive options are up to your landlord and not you. If you ask me, this is a huge weight to have lifted off your shoulders and I for one embrace it.

Pros of Owning

So for the most part, I have just covered most of the cons in regards to renting and haven’t talked much about the pros of owning. I myself have never owned so I can’t talk too much from personal experience, but I do have a lot of friends and know a lot of people who do own and I talk to them about it a lot.

Most Common Reasons

The two things that come up the most often when I talk to people about owning a home is that they feel much more secure and like an “adult” now that they own, and that they hope to at least make their money back when it is all paid off.

5As far as being an adult, I understand why people would feel this way but I think it is kind of a stereotype that doesn’t hold much weight. Depending on where you live or where you are renting, the costs of renting can be very comparable to owning and sometimes can cost even more. I will say that for the gentlemen out there at least, it may help a little bit to own a house with the ladies and sometimes they very well may look at you in a more manly way if you own. But that is a small and kind of silly reason, isn’t it?

Real Costs

I don’t think a lot of people really sit down and think about how much money it can be to retain the shape of a house in this day and age. A buddy of mine who owns a house just had to pay for an entire new roof because he didn’t get the proper inspection done before he bought it and a storm came through and was enough to finally do the final damage.

Be Careful

4Getting a proper home inspection is one of the smartest things you can do before you buy a house. Without doing so and getting the proper paperwork, there is really no telling what kind of shape the house is actually in. This was the case with my friends house and ended up costing him thousands  of dollars in getting his roof and gutters repaired. Not to mention now that this has happened, he is definitely not sparing any costs with his new additions because he wants to avoid this ever happening again.

You would hope that most people do the right thing and not try and sell you on something that is broken down or has a ton of hidden damages to it but we have to realistic here. In this day and age people will try and scam you out of anything and you can bet a house is really high on their lists.


Rising Costs?

So I have experience with working for an apartment company and have seen the prices steadily increasing over time and because of my past experience I probably pay more attention to costs of rent more than the average person. While regularly checking out apartment prices near me over the years I can say that they have absolutely been increasing quite a significant amount which is a big reason I think people are afraid to stick with renting.

Any Return?

I think a lot of people jump the shark a little bit into buying a home because when the banks come by and lay out some numbers in front of you for a 30 year loan, the actual price that you are paying a month very well might be comparable or even lower than some apartments and this is enough for them to sign the papers.
3While this is sometimes true, most people don’t do the math on the actual interest they are going to be paying on if they just make the minimum payments and after these numbers are actually written out, the appeal factor seems to decrease quite a bit.

So at the end of the 30 years if everything went perfectly as planned, you might be able to make your money back on your house if you are extremely lucky. But none of this considers the fact that you have probably poured thousands of dollars into your house which would never have been spent if you rented.

There are a lot of factors to consider in regards to buying a house and they should all be examined carefully.

Pros of Renting

There really are a number of reasons that I find renting to be more appealing than owning your own home. For me, the single biggest reason that I choose to rent over buying a house is that when you buy a house, you are your own landlord.

Not As Great as it Sounds

Now this may sound appealing to a lot of people but when you are actually in this position, it isn’t as glamorous as it may seem. When you are renting a house or apartment, your landlord is always just a phone call away and they are responsible for fixing any sort of damages or problems that you may be having.2

Oh, the heater won’t turn on? Call the landlord.

The sink is leaking in the bathroom? Call the landlord.

Someone busted out my window last night? Call the landlord.

This list can go on forever and I don’t know about any of you out there, but I don’t know the first thing about plumbing or construction work and would embarrass myself if I tried to take on any sort of home improvement job like that.

My parents own their own house and even with my dad being awesome at this kind of stuff, he still has to call the repair man for something every once in a while. Just last week they had a leak in their roof and guess who is stuck with the thousands of dollars in bills? Yup, my parents.