Crossing the Threshold: Your First Home

checking home for sale

If you have just been married and purchased your first home recently, you and your partner should consider yourself extremely fortunate. According to CNN, housing prices are still surging. In August, the median home price was $356,700. This was 14.9 percent higher than the median price in August 2020. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the usual annual increase in home prices is three to five percent. August also marked the 114th month of consecutive annual housing price increases.

There is also a low supply of available houses for sale. By the end of August, there were 1.29 million available homes. This was 1.5 percent fewer than July and 13.4 percent fewer than August 2020. It also represents enough supply for 2.6 months, whereas a healthy market should have a six-month supply.

Housing Inspection

Because of the tight competition among homebuyers, some forego house inspection to get ahead of the others. Hopefully, you did not do this. If you did, make sure you immediately get a reliable home inspector to ensure that the house is safe to inhabit.

The benefit of having a home inspection contingency in the purchase agreement is that the buyer can negotiate a discount on the home price to cover any needed repairs identified by the professional home inspector. If you purchased a house without this contingency, you would shoulder all needed repairs.

A professional housing inspector will check the entire building’s condition. The foundation, exterior walls, interior walls, flooring, and ceiling must be straight with no cracks. Stairs must be solid. Sidings must be undamaged, the roof must have no missing shingles or leaks, gutters must not be rusted or sagging, and the chimney must be in good working condition. If there is a garage, deck, or fence, these must also be checked, especially for wood rot. There must be sufficient insulation, and these must be made of materials that do not contaminate air quality. The paint must not be peeling, both indoors and outdoors.

The plumbing and electricals will be checked to ensure that there are no problems. This must include leaks from the septic tank. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system must be working well.

Bathroom tiles must have no cracks. The shower and toilet must be in good working condition. Faucets must be working, and drains must not be clogged in the bathroom and kitchen. Exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen must be working well. All built-in appliances, the smoke detector, and the carbon monoxide detector must be in good working condition.

If any damage is found, you must address this immediately. Postponing action will only lead to further deterioration and even higher costs of repair.

Hire a professional pest control company to check for termites and institute preventive measures. Also, have them check for any other pests.

home inspection

Ensuring the Home’s Energy Efficiency

From the start, it is important to weatherproof the home to make it energy-efficient in both winter and summer. This will save you a lot in energy bills. Follow the Energy Star guidelines, and you will even get tax credits of 10 percent of the cost, excluding installation, up to $500.

Insulate your attic, walls, and basement. Qualified are pour-in-place insulation, expanding spray, blow-in fibers, rigid boards, rolls, and batts. Air sealing products such as air sealing spray foam insulation, air sealing caulk, weather stripping, and a house wrap, all with a manufacturer’s certification statement, are also accepted.

Use Energy Star-rated doors, windows, and skylights. There is a cap of $200 for the tax credit for windows, though.

Replace the roof with an Energy Star rated asphalt or metal roof coated with special heat-reducing materials. These can cool the roof by as much as 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are also tax credits for certain systems for renewable energy, from 26 percent to 30 percent of the cost, including the installation cost, depending on the time of installation. This includes solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems, fuel cells, geothermal heat pumps, residential wind turbines, and biomass stoves.

Specific types of equipment likewise have certain tax credits. For instance, a tax credit of $300 can be earned for an air source heat pump, central air conditioning system, electric water heater, and a water heater powered by propane, oil, or gas. A tax credit of $150 each can be earned for a hot water boiler powered by propane, oil, or gas and a furnace powered by propane, oil, or gas. A $50 tax credit can be earned from an advanced main air circulating fan using only two percent of energy from the furnace.

Having a safe and energy-efficient home will give you peace of mind. It will also help you to save and will increase the value of your property.

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