Oct 182006

I love LifeHacker.

LH is a wonderful blog presented under the manifesto “Computers make us more productive. Yeah, right. Lifehacker recommends the software downloads and web sites that actually save time. Don’t live to geek; geek to live.”

I have learned so many great things about computers, the internet, and life in general from the information and links to blogs, websites and news articles posted there. I highly recommend you bookmark the site, put it in your RSS reader and geek to live!

A great discussion came up this week on LifeHacker prompted by a reader’s question about the “walkthrough” before closing.

When you’re getting ready to close on your home, schedule an appointment with your Realtor to inspect the home. You usually do the walkthrough inspection the night before or morning of the closing. You want to make sure there are no nasty surprises waiting for you once you move in and you want to verify that everything in the house and the condition of the house is reasonably the same as when you decided to buy it.

Below are the suggestions I offered on LifeHacker. Be sure to check out the LH site, too, as there’s lots of good advice from the LifeHacker readers.

1. Take your original home inspection report with you. Highlight in advance any major items that were to be repaired by the Seller prior to closing.

2. Take your time as you conduct your inspection.

3. A standard purchase contract provides that Plumbing, Heating, and Electrical systems are in working order and the roof free of leaks. Concentrate on these items.

4. If any personal property is included in the sale, such as refrigerator, stove, A/C, chandelier, etc., be sure those items are present and in good working order.

5. Observe any major cosmetic damage. Often you’ll see damage to a floor or wall that was previously obscured by furniture or carpeting.

6. Does it look like the Seller is packed and ready to move? Most contracts call for the Seller to vacate within 3-5 days. If it looks like they haven’t even begun packing yet, be prepared for a surprise request at closing.

7. Bring to the attention of your Realtor and attorney your concerns or checklist of missing or damaged items. Remember that for the most part you are purchasing the home “as is.” You can’t start negotiating price reductions at the closing table. Your attorney should be your guide in this area: she’ll know what you can and can’t fight for and/or ask for a credit for at closing.

8. Don’t forget your utilities. Once your closing date is confirmed, you should coordinate with the Seller their moveout date so you can have all utilities switched to your name and turned on effective that date.

9. If something is a glaring problem—huge hole in the wall, leaking bathtub onto ceiling below—be sure to snap photos. And, if you’re going to ask for a credit at closing, you’d better have at least two contractor estimates for the damage/repair. Don’t expect the Seller’s attorney to concede to your informal, “Well, I went online and saw a new bathtub is $3,000” estimate when deciding if and how much credit you’ll get.

10. Remember the Seller is holding your money in escrow. If it appears you are trying to “default” and get out of the transaction they could very well walk away and keep your money. Tread carefully, rely on the counsel of your attorney, and remember this is supposed to be a happy time, the purchase of a home. Don’t get bogged down and angry over minutiae. The fact is, when you own a home, things break. It could happen the day before closing, three months or six years later.

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