If you have questions about this change, you're in the right place. Our editors, experts, and community of change optimists have answers!
Life is full of surprises. Here are a couple of things to consider:
* The real estate agent helping you (who should be a buyer's agent) doesn't have exactly the same motivations you do. For example, he/she doesn't get paid unless/until you buy a house. So the agent may not tell you if you're overpaying for a house. You need to gather information about that yourself - for example, by asking the agent for information on comparable sales, and understanding your local market.
* Always, always pay for a home inspection, and make your offer contingent on any identified problems being fixed or paid for by the seller. Ideally you should find the inspector yourself - ask around, or become a member of Angie's List, or check for an AHSI inspector located near you. If you ask your buyer's agent for a recommendation, you may end up an inspector who is less than fully rigorous. (Really good agents won't do that to you, but remember that some agents just want to make the sale, and a tough home inspector may find things that end up causing the sale not to take place.)
*If you're buying a brand new home, find out if the developer is a one-shot organization (which makes it virtually impossible to sue for hidden damages, years later, and get money, since the corporation will have ended its life) or a long-time homebuilding company that will be around for years.
*If you're buying a home that's part of a homeowner's association (as a large percentage of new homes these days are, and many older homes as well), do your homework. Read the rules and regulations. Have someone who understands financials look at numbers of the HOA - for example, are there adequate reserves for large expenses that are likely to occur in the next few years. Don't get surprised by a large special assessment to fix problems that everyone but you knew existed and must be paid for.