Class focuses on smart home buying

Published 5:33 pm Thursday, June 25, 2009

Consumers often purchase used cars with caution, but many may not be as prepared when buying homes.

Roland Thomas, a real estate instructor for Jefferson State Community College, said lemons exist in the real estate market too.

“If you get a foreclosure, but you’re sitting on a mine field, you really haven’t gotten yourself a deal,” Thomas said.

Thomas wrapped up a community education course June 29 on buying and selling in a tough economy.

Thomas said he covers three main topics with students: the history of real estate, 250 questions to ask when buying and working the market.

The No. 1 buyer right now is the first–time homebuyer, Thomas said. He said this means a lot of nave consumers.

“Buyers are really not educating themselves,” Thomas said. “Its not too much of a problem unless you are the person who is buying a house that eventually will slide down the hill.”

People often lock eyes on a home they think they can’t live without, but forget to ask the tough questions, Thomas said.

If a person buys a home built in the 1970s, for example, they might forget to ask what treatment the owners used on their deck, Thomas said. He said many treatments at the time included arsenic, which now seeps out of the wood and can be harmful, especially to young children.

Remember to ask even the most random questions, Thomas said. If the kitchen is updated, ask who did the renovations. Also find out if the home sits anywhere near a smelly plant or active late–night business.

Thomas said asking the right questions is vital to making a good purchase.

Working with well–trained professionals is even more paramount, he said.

“At a time like this you need to plug into somebody who has their finger on the pulse of what is going on,” Thomas said. “You need someone who is on top of things.”

Thomas said he also receives numerous questions from people wondering when home prices will go back up.

“Everyone wants to know when all of this spiraling price drops will settle down,” Thomas said. “I have to tell them I think the prices are coming down to more realistic prices.”

Thomas said that’s why potential buyers shouldn’t back down.

Jeff State plans to host another course July 13–27. For more information, call 856-7965.