What you need to learn about a home before committing to buy it
Here’s something we find fascinating: 90% of diners researched a particular restaurant online before dining there. That is more than any other business type, according to a survey by Upserve.com.
It makes sense at first glance. Let it sink in, though, and you’ll begin to wonder why physicians, dentists, hairstylists, plumbers and others aren’t at the top of the list.
By the same token, why doesn’t what may become the biggest investment we ever make, a home, deserve such careful scrutiny?
Homebuyers are a trusting bunch which can lead to remorse after they purchase.
The market is thankfully changing and you will be able to take time to consider your purchase. Ask your agent the questions he or she can get the answers to. Then, do your own research on the remaining.
Here’s a list to get you started.
- How old is the home? This is an easy question for your real estate agent because the year built is typically stated in the MLS listing.
- How old is the water heater, HVAC system, roof and other systems in the home? For instance, the average life expectancy of a water heater is 10 years. If the one in the home you have your eye on is going on 11 years, you may want to negotiate for a new one or a credit to purchase one.
- Ask about any renovations that have been done to the home, if the work was permitted and ask for copies of the permits. Who did the work? Is the contractor licensed?
- Ask your agent to request a CLUE report from the seller. “The report generally contains up to seven years of personal-auto and personal-property claims history,” according to the Washington State Office of Insurance Commissioner. The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles Americans to a free copy of the CLUE report. Your agent can point the seller to this website on which the report can be ordered.
- Ask your agent to find out what the average utility bills amounted to over the past year. This should include electric, gas, water, trash and sewer.
- You will be given a packet of information from the Homeowners Association if the home is in a managed community. We urge you to read everything and, if possible, run it by your attorney. These are sometimes complicated documents but what is in them impacts how you will live in the home.
- Visit the local planning department to determine if there is potential property development planned for the area near the home. For instance, will a Walmart be built on the vacant parcel behind your home?
- Are any of the non-built-in appliances included in the sale? This might include the refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc.
- Contact the local police department to find the answers to your questions about crime in the area. You can also plug in the address of the home at Areavibes.com and get its Livability Score, find crime stats for the neighborhood at SpotCrime.com and do check the National Sex Offender Public Website.
- If schools are important to you, check them out online at SchoolDigger.com, GreatSchools.org and Education Consumers Foundation.
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