Buying a House in Austin Checklist

I have been meaning to jot down all the things I wish I knew before I bought my house, with the hope of helping someone out.  I will add to it as time goes, but here is the raw list and some thoughts/reasons:

  • Sunrise/Sunset (What direction does the sun rise and set) – This one didn’t even come to mind when we bought our house.  Now in the summer our backyard is just about useless, due to the heat and bright sun after about 2-3pm.  Of course this can be fixed with trees and paying for shade basically…but something to consider before buying and trees take a while to grow…lol

  • Crime – All the popular real estate sites have crime and police report maps. Know the crime rates in and around your future property.
  • Schools – If you have or will have children you want them to have access to good schools, so have a look and research the schools to see what’s available in the area. Most real estate sites have school rankings on the home listing pages.
  • Ground (Clay, rock, etc.) – Our house was built on a clay like dirt that has the house settling more than we expected. Our drywall seams need to be fixed every so often (also probably related to the dry air in Austin too), as well as the BIG A$$ CRACK in our driveway that has developed!
  • Flood plains – Research the areas that are prone flooding before signing on the dotted line. Also, know the water flow when there is heavy rain, etc. Consider extra insurance if necessary.
  • Property Tax – Some areas are higher than others so know the rates in the areas you are shopping.  We are just in the Austin city limits so we pay a bit more than someone 5 minutes from our house.
  • Road Width – It seems like modern developments are building really narrow streets, and when people part their big trucks and SUV’s (which they will) on the street…. Two cars cannot pass at the same time.  It becomes a pain in the butt!
  • Distance Between Houses – Be aware of the distance between houses, because they just don’t build houses the way they used to and a neighbor with a loud surround system that likes to watch movies late at night can be irritating…
  • Noise – Trains, Planes, Automobiles, Bikes, Neighbors… You get the idea…LOL
  • Neighbors – Hard to be PC here….but if possible know your neighbors.
  • Internet – Speed
  • Daytime vs Nightime vs Weekend – Check out your future neighborhood/location at all times of the day to get an idea of what’s the place like.
  • Through Traffic – Is it a busy street with cars blazing by often, or a chill street with very little traffic.  This can be dangerous if you have young children.
  • Traffic – Roads and congestion near your future house.
  • Commute – How long? How much traffic during peak hours?
  • Cable vs Fiber VS ADSL – Types of available internet connections and providers
  • Year Round Weather – Know the seasonal averages of the location you are moving to. Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, thunderstorms, snow, earthquakes, etc.
  • Upgrades Options – If you are buying new…Make sure you thoroughly go through the list…Get the stuff you want, so you don’t have to pay extra later…TRUST ME HERE!  Get that big bathtub!
  • Last House vs Not last house?? If possible know if this is it, or if it’s only temporary.
  • HOA’s Rules vs No HOA and benefits of HOA (Gym, park, pool, etc.) – Some HOA’s are strict and have rules that will irritate you, like not working on cars, etc.  Property value based on how the neighborhood looks. They are good and bad.
  • Future Resale Potential – If you plan to upgrade/downgrade in the future know the potential value in an area.
  • Jobs – Very important to have an idea of the jobs and companies that are available in the area you are moving to.
  • Shopping – How close/far are the important places like supermarkets and gas stations.
  • Pollen or No Pollen / Allergies – Austin has crazy allergies!! Do you research by checking weather apps or sites with pollen counts.
  • PPI – Payment Protection Insurance – Hopefully you can have a large enough down payment so you wont need to pay this scam of a fee!
  • Hire private inspector Most builders use A LOT of contractors. Do yourself a favor and tell the builder you are hiring a private inspector so they know you mean business about things being done the right way, the first time! Have the private inspector go through your house before you get the keys or sign anything! Basically, be firm here. You paid a lot of money for this house and you don’t want to have to call them to fix shit later!
  • Per-Approved for mortgage (If international money is involved make sure it’s “clean”) – Get pre approved to speed up the buying process once you start looking. There is a lot of competition so you have to be ready to pounce!
  • House age – Just be aware when it was built, if used..was the roof redone, electrical up to code, new AC/Heather/Water Heater, etc.
  • Hard water vs Soft water – Some areas will need extra equipment to fix this. Just something to be aware of.
  • Backyard – Will it come with grass….Yeah, I know this shouldn’t be a thing but our house didn’t come with grass in the backyard!?
  • Animals/Bugs – Know the “local” animals and bugs. Watch out for those FIRE ANTS!
  • Insulation – Most homes are pretty energy efficient these days, but thought I would add to the list for something to keep in mind.
  • Sound Insulation – A lot of modern homes are just noisy! If you are going to get a house built…Maybe sure they put sound insulation and/or dry wall that prevents noise from traveling. It will cost you more but you’ll thank me later.  This is especially the case with 2 story houses. Probably have them throw some extra carpet padding/insulation too while your at it.
  • Pre-Wired Internet – All rooms pre-wired for internet and also think about extra outlets for wall mounted TV’s, etc.
  • Condo-Fees – If you are shopping condos…Make sure you know the fees and the fee history. Your condo fees can end up costing you more than a mortgage if you don’t watch it! Building age is an important factor here.
  • Recreation – Are you close or far from the things that you like to do? Downtown, eating, drinking, hiking, golfing, swimming, kayaking, biking, etc.
  • Driveway – Length, width, grade, etc.  Think about parking, guest parking, washing cars, working on cars, etc.
  • Electricity – Enough outlets throughout the house,
  • Gas/Electric Stove/heating
  • Plumbing 

I will add more information about each of these points eventually.