Purchasing a property is a big decision. From an investment point of view, real estate is one of the most secure choices. But sellers will go above and beyond to make their place look good, and this can be misleading. How to make sure that you won’t be dealing with a lot of problems after closing a deal?
What to Look For
There are some things that seem obvious, like external cracks or flooring problems. But other issues, that may be more important, are difficult to see. For example, foundation problems. Some tips to stay on the safe side are:
- Look for issues that may be hidden by paint or wallpaper
- Check the functioning of the bathrooms
- Beware of places with a strong smell of home deodorant
- Ask to see the whole house and be wary of an owner who doesn’t want you to see a certain area
The first thing is to ask for a home inspector of your choosing. Most home inspections costs are covered by the buyers, so this should not be an issue. Be careful to select a home inspector with an outstanding reputation, as it is the last step before closing a contract. Beware of a seller that offers any kind of incentive to waive the inspection. A property owner search is in order if there is anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Consider Using A Real Estate Agent
While you may think you are saving money by not using the services of an agent, reality can be different. Agents usually inspect properties before agreeing to represent the owners, as they have legal responsibilities to their clients. Real estate agents are especially recommended for first-time buyers. Research deeply before choosing your agent. Look for references or reviews, and interview a few before making a decision.
Talk to the Owners
Ask as many questions as you need. Meet with your real estate agent and prepare a list of questions together. The first thing to ask is the reason for selling. While some owners will sell because of personal reasons (like their family growing or a professional change) it is always good to have an open conversation about it and read between the lines. If the question makes them uncomfortable, there may be other problems that they are not disclosing.
Research Housing Market Trends
You probably believe that the neighborhood is great, but are property prices decreasing? If so, why? Trends in the housing market can give you important information about other issues. For example, water problems. Or earthquake risks. This is why it is extremely important to perform deep research about the neighborhood and probably the county in which you are planning to buy. Usually, if you are using the services of a real estate agent, they are obligated by law to disclose these issues, but it is better to do your own research as well. On the other hand, neighborhoods with low median home prices may be a great investment.
Tour the Neighborhood
Are small businesses thriving? Do you see plenty of children riding their bikes? Are there public places, like parks, close to the house? A simple observation tour can offer important information. Go one step further and talk to the neighbors, or spend some time at the local cafe and have an open conversation with the staff. You can’t imagine the value that you can get from the local’s opinions. Also, pay attention to your own feelings. If you are purchasing a place in which you are planning to live, do you feel at ease there? Can you imagine your children in the playground?
While background checks and housing markets are important, purchasing a home is, in the end, a very personal decision. A good idea is to make a list of pros and cons and pay attention to what makes sense to you.