BOSTON — Surprise!
Your new house may hold unexpected bills in its nooks and crannies before you even settle in.
Once the seller moves out, hidden flaws may appear that can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars to fix, says Daryl "Jess" Jasperson, president of ReMax International in Englewood, Colo.
Carpet stains may have hidden beneath furniture when you made your first tour.
Or furniture may have cast a shadow on the wall, and left a permanent outline on otherwise faded paint.
Wood floors may also show uneven wear.
Remember: It's easier - and cheaper - to repaint rooms, steam-clean carpets, or work on the floor when the house is empty.
That's what Matt and Renee McLaren found when they bought a four-bedroom house in Costa Mesa, Calif., last summer.
Before they moved in, Mrs. McLaren hired a contractor to rip out the kitchen and tear down a wall. Their new kitchen, with a view of the backyard pool, was ready by the time they moved in.
"So many people want to move in the day of the closing, so they can stop paying rent or making other payments," Mr. Jasperson says, "when it would only take three or four days to work out all these issues and enhance the [home's] livability."
The money you save on the repairs will usually cover any extra rent.
A real estate broker with a trained eye should help you spot hidden expenses early, Jasperson says. And the home inspection can point up more surprises.
Ask the home inspector about the cost of repairs, and consider doing them before you move in. It will save time, money, and hassle and possibly make your first few years in the home house trouble-free.
Is the water heater due for replacement? It may be wiser to remove it before it threatens to drain all over your furniture on the way out.
First-time home-buyers should also budget for a refrigerator, washer, and dryer, since they're rarely sold with the house.
And most sellers take the drapes. So if you don't want the neighbors spying in, plan on springing for window trimmings.
The extra effort will pay off when you move in - and the house actually looks the way you thought it would.