Although exciting, buying a home should not be a process that is entered into lightly. It’s not as carefree as home-buying TV shows might make it look. Thorough measures should be taken to ensure that you are making the correct decision. Luckily, if you know where to look, it’s a piece of cake.
Use the Internet
Before leaving the comfort of your current abode, you can put together a hefty file on any home you are considering. All you need is the address. There are useful tools online that will perform a reverse lookup address, giving you really handy information: past and current owners with relevant sales history, neighborhood data, maps and images. Searches like this often turn up a home’s value, as well; this could give you a leg up when talking price later on.
Visit the Neighborhood
Touring the property itself is a no-brainer, but carefully touring the neighborhood is often overlooked. Driving through, walking about or sitting at the local cafe can give you a feel for what it’s like to live there. You might even meet some of the local residents and chat about the area. Visiting more than once could give you a better picture, and if you find yourself looking forward to going back, you may have found the one.
Take Advantage of Public Records
It may involve more leg work than internet sleuthing, but a trip to the county courthouse or city hall could turn up additional information on the house you are after. These types of offices can keep records of property deeds and encumbrances, or restrictions on the property. If you know the identify of the seller, you could even dive into federal court records to find any information relevant to the sale. Is the seller going through a divorce, or have they recently filed for bankruptcy? It’s best to stack your deck before negotiating price.
Order an Inspection
Further along in the process, usually once an offer has been made and accepted, a pre-buy inspection should be called for in the negotiation. Make clear to the seller that the results of the inspection can allow you the pull your offer from the table, so you aren’t locked in if the you find something sinister. You don’t want to get stuck with a crumbling foundation after you move in.
Becoming a property detective isn’t as intimidating as it may seem. It’s important to know all you can about a place before you invest your life savings or take on a mortgage. Owning valuable property is well worth effort. Good luck out there!