5 things homebuyers may regret later (© Peter Scholey/Getty Images)

© Peter Scholey/Getty Images

So, you've found a house you like, come up with a down payment and gotten preapproved. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, if you and your agent rush through the deal without doing all the homework.

In this installment of Buying Advice, we'll look at the little tasks or details that buyers may neglect that could come back to haunt them. We'll also check in with the latest housing statistics and answer a question about who pays for what in a short-sale transaction. (Bing: What is a short sale?)

Buying without regret
Buying a house is like getting into a marriage: You must make sure there aren't any problems you might have missed during the courtship. After all, you might have to live with your mistakes for a long time. Just ask buyers who purchased six or seven years ago.

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To help MSN Real Estate's readers buy without regret, we asked a number of experts to give us their list of mistakes that buyers make in the rush to close on that house of their dreams.

Here are some of them:

1. They ignore the maintenance and repair costs.
"When people see a house they really like, they don't see all of the bumps and bruises the first time they look at it," says Cara Ameer, with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

They might disregard the ancient heating and cooling system or not factor in adequately the cost of running or replacing it. Ditto for that awful plumbing system or roof. If a roof is more than 10 years old, Ameer says, a replacement should be accounted for in your bid.

"You might find yourself paying more than you should."

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2. They blow off secondary inspections.
After the general home inspection, many rushed buyers blow past other recommended once-overs, such as checking out the pool for leaks and electrical problems or getting that tiled roof looked at by a contractor. These oversights could pose a terrible problem later when an owner has to spend money on repairs rather than on new furniture.

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"I have one client that found it will cost $10,000 to repair the leaks on a [tiled] roof," Ameer says.

What are some other expensive problems that buyers didn't address to save money or time?

Niels Brownlow of Coldwell Banker Seal in Portland, Ore., would add sewer problems to the list. He recommends his buyers get sewers scoped out for any root intrusions or broken lines, which can cost a mint to fix. If you're buying a house with a heating oil tank, it's also wise to do a separate inspection for leaks around it, he says.

"Remediation can be very expensive if those tanks are leaking," he says.

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3. They don't do enough research on the condo project they are buying into.
Often, Brownlow says, people scrutinize the unit but neglect to fully inspect its homeowners association documents and the building's insurance coverage or to do a check for pending litigation.

"Read all of the condo documents, such as the financials, covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), HOA board-meeting minutes, etc.," Brownlow says. "Ask questions if you do not understand."

You want to make sure that the project has enough money to pay for needed repairs and emergencies, that there aren't any structural defects and that the HOA isn't planning to sock you with any huge assessments. You'll also need to know if they will accept your charming, 60-pound Australian cattle dog.

4. They don't check out the neighborhood.
Finding the perfect house is wonderful, but if your neighbors are disrespectful or the local amenities are sparse, you might get buyer's remorse.

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Get the lowdown by knocking on doors around the house. Tell neighbors that you're interested in purchasing there and would like to know more about the neighborhood. You can ask:

  • What do they like about it?
  • Have there been any recent problems with crime?
  • Have there been any big disputes between neighbors? How were they resolved?
  • Do the neighbors around the house have pets?

You don't want to have a serious barking-dog problem on your hands or any other contentious situations.

You would be surprised at how much people will tell a complete stranger, says Ilona Bray, editor and co-author of Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home. Sometimes, she says, just a bad attitude or hostility from that next-door neighbor may give you pause about buying.

Don't forget to check out the local restaurants, grocery stores, parks and service establishments before you commit to a house.

What's your home worth?

"See what you think," Ameer says. This is where you will be spending a large part of your time. It had better be a good fit, she says.

5. They don't calculate the commute.
Sure, that neighborhood is quiet and kid-friendly, but how long will it take to get back there from the downtown where you work?

Avoid road rage. Make sure you know what to expect on your drive home.

"Drive the commute to your office during peak traffic time so that you know how much time it will take to get to your job and to get home," Brownlow says.

Housing market update: Sales and prices rise. Has inventory bottomed out?
Existing-home sales inched up a paltry 0.6% to 4.97 million in April from 4.94 million in March, as buyers struggled to find homes from a limited pool of inventory in many markets.

This resale activity was up 9.7% from the 4.53 million pace set in April of last year, according to National Association of Realtors data. But that figure could be higher, argues Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist. "Buyer traffic is 31% stronger than a year ago, but sales are running only about 10% higher," he says.

Still, existing-home sales are at the highest pace since November 2009, when the homebuyer tax credit sparked sales.

Inventory ticked up 11.9% from March to April, with 2.16 million homes for sale — a 5.2-month supply at the current sales pace — as more sellers put homes on the market in time for the peak selling season. Still, listed inventory is 13.6% below April 2012, when there was a 6.6-month supply.