Few occasions in life are as momentous as purchasing a home. Much like choosing a mate, a prospective buyer wants both initial attraction and assurances of a successful long-term relationship. Thus, it is crucial to investigate some often-overlooked details to ensure that a home will best meet your present and future goals. With the proper due diligence and by asking the right questions, a homebuyer can greatly increase the likelihood of finding the right property and secure a greater potential for a return on that investment. Consider the following:
Take the time to find the right real estate agent. You may have a friend who is a realtor, or your friend has a friend. This decision is more important than you think. A knowledgeable and proactive agent is essential to ensure you purchase at the right value. They will provide you with abundant and accurate information that may save you from future disputes and litigation. Your agent is your first line of offense and defense. Dont waste this.
Research the builders reputation. The house looks lovely, but what about the nuts and bolts? Ask around for information about the builder and developers, look at other properties that they have completed and sold, and look into any reviews or pending lawsuits against them. You need to know if the builder cuts corners or are known for poor work.
Good fences make good neighbors, unless that fence actually cuts off part of your property. Determine the exact boundaries of the property and whether you share any part of it with adjoining properties, such as walls or driveways. A homebuyer should not assume that they have sole access to or are legally entitled to what physically appears to be part of the property.
Look into local history about flooding, natural disasters, and other environmental occurrences. It is important that a homebuyer be aware of these conditions and be able the assess whether a property has the structural qualities to withstand them. A buyer will also want to consider whether and if they are able to purchase extra homeowners insurance coverage.
Read the neighborhood police reports. A homebuyer should find out about local criminal activities, neighborhood disturbances, and registered offenders. There may be certain trends or recurring problems. You want to know if you and your family will be safe, unbothered, and if the future value or marketability of your home could be at risk. If you find nothing, you have peace of mind.
Take the time to carefully review all zoning and local ordinances governing your property and the adjacent areas. If you intend to ever do construction on the home, keep certain animals on the property, or operate a particular home business, you will need to know if you are lawfully permitted to do any of these things. For example, you may want to know if you can build an addition later on when you have more children or when you take care of aging family members. You also want to know if your neighbor a few homes down has the ability to use their property in a way that may disturb your enjoyment of your own property.
Research any sought or pending new construction in the area. Some neighborhoods undergo drastic changes over a period of time. For example, a buyer will want to know if someone plans to construct high-traffic structures like commercial centers, or whether there will be years of construction to drive through every day to and from home.
A homebuyer should examine the rules and restrictions of the propertys homeowners association, if there is one. The rules can cover everything from structural considerations to the number of cars that may be parked in the driveway. Inquire about special assessments, which occurs when the associations trust account has insufficient funds to cover extra expenses not budgeted for, such as major repairs. Look carefully at all governing association documents.
A homebuyer should often come prepared to find their dream house with loan pre-approval. This is true for two reasons: (1) most sellers, whether private or institutional, will not even look at an offer if the buyers have not been pre-approved for a loan; and (2) the buyer may get pressured into a bad, last-minute financing deal provided by the seller. Find the right lender and the right financing.
Dont do it. Double-check anything you see in a listing agreement, anything an agent represents to you, and any unofficial reports or documents. Home purchases involve lots of paper and back-and-forth. Ask questions if you dont understand what you see, obtain official records, get second opinions, and possibly hire outside people to make additional valuations. You are buying a house and a home.