Before you make an offer on a home, it’s very important that you investigate the property and surrounding area. Don’t make an unwise decision and end up in an undesirable home or neighborhood because you rushed into things. Even in a seller’s market where inventory is low, it’s important to take your time. Here are ten areas every home buyer should cover before making a decision.
1. Research neighborhood information.
Unless you already live in the community, it’s worthwhile to search local websites and learn as much as you can about where you’ll be living.
2. Research crime statistics.
Contact your local police station or visit www.crimereports.com to find local crime information according to a particular address, zip code, or neighborhood name.
3. Research local schools.
Even if you are not a parent, choosing a neighborhood with high performing schools will help ensure your property maintains its value. You can find information on the local school district website, or visit sites like www.greatschools.com.
4. Research local amenities.
Visit Google Maps for a Street View of a neighborhood to see what’s around, or go to www.walkscore.com to find nearby amenities. If there is a particular activity you enjoy, find out how far you’ll have to travel to enjoy it.
5. Research neighborhood amenities.
If you’ll be part of a homeowner’s association, you can usually find information about community activities on the association’s website. Even if you are not joining a homeowner’s association, you can usually find information about community activities online.
6. Drive by the home and walk around the neighborhood at different times of day.
To gain a more thorough understanding of what it will be like to live somewhere visit on weekdays, weeknights, and weekends. Levels of activity can vary widely depending on the time of day or day of the week.
7. Become familiar with the commute.
Drive by the property both during the week and on a weekend. Traffic patterns vary widely, and can have a profound impact on your enjoyment of a property.
8. Request a home inspection.
A home inspection will uncover any needed repairs and costs of those repairs. You may not be able to negotiate for the cost of home improvements, but it’s always better to be as fully informed as possible.
9. Discuss the home and surrounding area with the sellers.
Assuming they are wiling to share information, sellers can be an invaluable resource for learning about the home and surrounding area.
10. Inform yourself.
Know about taxes, home owner association dues, homeowners insurance, and utility costs.
Make sure you factor in these costs and add them to the monthly mortgage payment. This way you can be confident of staying within your budget.