First time Homebuyer Tips from Steve Gladstone- Stonehollow Fine Home Inspections


cover pictureAfter 30 years in the Home inspection business, I am frequently amazed at how poorly prepared first time potential homebuyers are.  And while I am writing a new book on what to look for before you buy… I want to share a few common sense challenges to those entering the chaotic world of real estate in Fairfield County.

Pick your Realtor carefully. Their willingness to listen, understand your needs and understand your goal is critical. Do not enter the Fairfield County market without someone who understands the game. I have worked with many fine Realtors… search them out and interview them carefully.

Don’t go to open houses unrepresented. If you find a home of interest you will not be fully represented if you ask the listing broker to negotiate for you. Working both sides of a deal often sets up divided allegiance.

Look carefully… “do your homework”, examine listings on line and better understand what is available before you visit homes. Choose slowly based on your needs, not on  the inventory that is shown to you.

Many times people will tell me they knew the home they bought was correct for them the instant they walked in the front door. That may be true but try not to fall in love with any home initially… shop carefully and make sure the home meets your needs,or can ultimately meet them through renovations.  

Be picky- advise your Realtor what is critical to you. Be it a nice yard, quiet street or 3 car garage.

Don’t choose the best of 3, rather take the time to look at a communities offerings and better understand the market.

Understand what the limit of your financing will be, and remember things break,  costs to repair are often more expensive than planned, and extras make sense to improve on, when something else breaks. 

Take photos and compare listing information.  Remember listing sheets can be misleading, and frankly many are incorrect.

A quaint quiet neighborhood with water views may be an old house near a cemetery with a wet basement.  Remember creative writing is part of the real estate world.

My bigger warnings for 1st time buyers:

Don’t buy a home that is lower than the street. Water always runs downhill.

If they say the basement only gets wet in a heavy rain… think twice.

If there’s a buried oil tank… be careful.

If the roof looks bad, it probably is…

If it smells like mold… you guessed it there’s mold. 

Synthetic stucco …. yucko,  stay away.

Don’t believe everything you hear, or are told, as people rarely tell you the bad stuff when they are trying to sell something.

Keep that poker face on.  If you show you are too excited you may end up paying more. 

And finally, (for today) make sure you do not waive any contingencies… that is: a home inspection by a skilled inspector who is independent of your realtor, mortgage, termite, radon, mold and any other safety clause that can get you out of a bad deal… and return any deposit you have placed on the wrong home.

Questions?  Just e-mail me at or contact me through the Patch. 

Happy Home Search ! 

Most roofing has a design life of 17 to 25 years.

Most roofing has a design life of 17 to 25 years.


Rot and trim damage may indicate that there will be more to spend after you buy. Budget for that.

Rot and trim damage may indicate that there will be more to spend after you buy. Budget for that.


Is the oil tank inside or buried?

Is the oil tank inside or buried?