Finally, the last post in my homeward bound series. I’ve covered everything from house hunting to getting a lawyer so far. This post will cover the last bits and pieces of my home buying experience.
Examining the nooks and crannies – the home inspection
One would hope that everyone knows that home inspections are really important. After all, Mike Holmes seems to rant about it every chance he gets. The trick is finding a good inspector. The first person I asked about local home inspectors was my realtor – he gave me the name of one inspector and a good recommendation. I put the inspector’s name into the google machine and hunted for reviews, both good and bad. I also combed through his website and the Ontario Home Inspector Association to make sure his qualifications were up to date. When I was satisfied he was suitably qualified, I emailed him and asked for some references. The inspector got back to me that evening with some people to call as well as his rates. I called the references, was happy with what I heard so I called the inspector and arranged an inspection.
The inspector met my Dad and I at the house. The inspector started right away, looking over the exterior and roof of the house. We walked along with him, and he pointed out things like loose deck boards, a splash of paint needed on the window frames, mostly little cosmetic things. We grabbed the ladder from his truck and then headed up on the roof, where he checked over the roof itself, flashing, chimney and eavestrough. I was happy to hear the roof was in good shape, with relatively new shingles. Next, we went inside and went through the house, room by room. The inspector explained what he was looking for in each room, what was good, what needed fixed, and answered all the questions I, or my Dad, had. Once we’d gone through all the rooms, the inspector pulled out a binder and copied all his notes into it and gave me a final verdict, which was good. No major problems or deal breakers. I was really happy with the inspector, he was very thorough, took lots of pictures and told me I could call him anytime with questions. Overall, the $365 I paid the inspector was well worth it.
Next for inspection was the wood stove, which is really important when you’re trying to get insurance. Some home inspectors can do WETT (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) but I got a local stove shop to do the inspection. The guy doing the WETT inspection showed up shortly after the home inspector left and started right away inspecting the stove. The inspector looked at the distances between the stove and the walls, the stove itself and of course the stove pipes out through the wall and the chimney. Unfortunately, there was a missing heat shield in the wall where the stove goes out through the wall, so the stove didn’t pass the WETT inspection. I asked the inspector what it would cost to fix up the stove so that it would pass and he estimated around $1000.
After the WETT inspection, was the septic inspection. When I said nooks and crannies, I really meant it. Through my work, I have a lot of experience with septic system (which is both a good and a bad thing, but I won’t go into that now), so it was really important for me to see that the septic system had been maintained and was functioning. I had the home owner dig up the lid and get the system pumped out. I know the local septic inspector, so together, we inspected the tank and found it to be in good working order. Having to put in a new $12,000 septic system wasn’t high on my priority list.
So after all the inspections, the only major concern with regards to the conditions on the offer was the WETT inspection. I called my realtor and told him about the inspections and he informed me I had three choices: ask for $1000 off the offer price, request the seller fix the stove at his expense, or walk away. I wanted the stove fixed, so I decided to request that the seller fix the stove and get the stove WETT certified. This wasn’t a problem for the seller, and within a week the stove was fixed.
With all the inspections taken care of and those conditions on the sale all satisfied, it was time to go back to the bank and the lawyers office.
Crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s
The last conditions for my offer were finances, a clear title search, and everything else being legal. With a copy of the offer and the mls listing, I headed to the bank to finalize the mortgage. Back in the first Homeward Bound post, recall that I had an agreement with my bank for a 5 year fixed mortgage at 2.64%, now it was time to make that official. I met with the mortgage specialist and we went over the terms of the mortgage. The bank offered me mortgage and disability insurance, which I refused. I’m not going to go into detail about mortgage and disability insurance, but in my opinion it offers more protection for the bank, rather than me. After reading through the mortgage documents, I signed it and got copies for my records and for my lawyer.
Next, I started looking for home insurance. Shopping for home insurance is much more time consuming than shopping for car insurance – there’s a lot more questions you have to answer. It’s really helpful to have your home inspection report/binder with you when you start calling around for home insurance so you can answer the insurance company’s questions about the house. Generally, they ask you about the condition of the house, roof, plumbing and electrical systems. If you have a wood stove (like my house does) be prepared to answer alot more questions. Funny enough, insurance company’s aren’t really keen on fires inside of houses. I ended up sending the WETT inspection report to my insurance company to prove I had a well maintained, functioning wood stove. You’ll also need to know how far the nearest fire hydrant is (or for those who aren’t serviced with municipal water – the nearest fire station). The insurance company also wanted to know about my cat, which surprised me – if she had her shots, ever attacked anyone, was strictly indoor or outdoor. Just a head’s up for all those pet owners out there. Once I found a policy that suited me, I had the insurance company forward a copy to my bank and the lawyer.
Off I was to the lawyers, this time I made sure to dress up a little nicer to try and impress my young, hot lawyer. Of course, he was out and all I had to do was drop off all the papers with his assistance. No matter though, after about a week and a half, the lawyer had everything ready for me to sign. My lawyer went through everything with me, going through the mortgage agreement, what they found during in the title search (nothing), over the breakdown of the costs, and basically every other piece of paper involved in a home sale. It was really helpful. I signed everything, and he told me that all I needed to do was bring the bank draft for the down payment and he would arrange with the realtor for the keys to be dropped off on the closing date.
One last look around
After I dropped off the bank draft at the lawyers place, I called up my realtor to have one last look around the house before the closing date. I asked for the last inspection after reading horror stories about sellers taking everything out of their previous houses that wasn’t nailed down, leaving the house looking like a disaster zone or smashing walls and windows. While I didn’t expect the seller to smash windows or anything like that, I really wanted to make sure that he left the appliances like he was supposed to. I met with my realtor and we went through the house, and I’m glad we went through the house again. The seller left so much stuff. Some of it was alright and useful stuff that I’ve kept, but most of it was absolute junk. We looked through his workshop in the basement, and it looked like he totally forgot to clean out that room. I was not impressed and neither was my realtor. He called the seller right away, and told him he had a day to clean the place up. The call sort of worked – he cleaned some of the stuff out, but my Dad and I still ended up taking 2 loads of his junk to the dump and I still have his kids’ toys in my little shed (but I am giving those away). He did leave some pottery though – I suspect he didn’t know how much the artisan-made bowls are worth (50 bucks a piece), so I count that as a small win for me. It’s definitely worth your time to have one last look around though.
A couple days later, the realtor dropped off the keys and the place was mine!
Two months later, I’ve finally got my house in a livable-form and I’m moved in (for the most part). It’s hard to believe the whole house buying process, once I really started looking, took about a month in total. Of course, it can take much longer than a month, but hopefully these posts might be useful to anyone out there thinking about buying their first home, or actively looking for a place to buy.
Have a good ‘un