Buying a home can be a stressful, especially if it’s your first time. Listening to the advice of your realtor and mortgage broker can help some, but there are a lot of details that can go overlooked, even by experienced professionals. We’ve assembled this quick list of resources to check before signing on the dotted line to help you buy the best home for you.
The county tax records on a property will tell you a lot about its history. A sudden jump in the assessed value or taxes payable rate on a home could mean either there was a lot of new work done in that year, or the tax rate was suddenly increased. Looking at tax records for your potential home and asking around about anything that may have caused the changes can be helpful. Additionally, seeing the tax payment history on the property will give you a heads-up as to whether there are any liens against it that could cause you problems.
Oftentimes, homeowners will think they have the right to do whatever they’d like to their own property, but this isn’t the case. Getting your hands on the property’s plot plan and zoning details will help you understand the exact space of which you will own, and what you can and cannot do with that space. In some cases, you may need a special permit in order to build a shed, or zoning laws could prohibit you from operating a business out of your home. It’s important to understand these details so you don’t get your plan going only to find yourself in a legal bind down the road.
A Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is a private group formed by the real estate developer and run by the community residents. An HOA acts as a sort of low-level community governing body for the homes in that planned community. The tenants or owners living in homes under the umbrella of the HOA pay a fee to be a part of the HOA, which then, in turn, uses those funds to maintain common areas and provide amenities and services such as recreation facilities and trash pickup. An important thing to do is to find out details regarding any HOA you may be a part of with the purchase of a property. Some of these details could include who is on the board of the HOA, what fees are required, and how those fees are handled and spent by the HOA. Pay special attention to any restrictions listed in the covenants; for example, many HOAs forbid parking commercial vehicles within the neighborhood, even on your own driveway.
Looking through what seems to be the minor details of a property’s ownership history can reveal some important skeletons in the closet. This includes checking with the local authorities on the permit history of the house. Property tax records are considered public documents, so look up the records to see when the property was last sold, and what the official property description is (for example, does the listing say four bathrooms but the tax records say two?). Also, a house that changed hands within the past year for a much lower price than the current listing price may be a “flipper” house, and these may have been prettied up to sell, without correcting potentially expensive problems. Check the permit history as well. It could save you a lot of trouble if you get the ball rolling on your homeowner’s insurance in order to make sure the home is insurable. There are horror stories of owners purchasing a home only to discover it is uninsurable due to previous insurance claims from the old owners. These clues and details can then be turned into powerful resources negotiating the price of the property, or the deal-breaker that saves years of headaches.
Conveyance of Fixtures & Appliances
A big part of the home-buying process is double- and triple-checking details, and this includes things such as the fixtures and appliances the current owner will be leaving. You don’t want to assume the window treatments, washer and dryer, or refrigerator are staying only to find out they are long gone after you have the keys to your new abode. Often, the home listing put out by the seller will include any items that are being left behind for the new owner, but your contract with the seller finalizes all of that, and the list of items could change at some point during the process.
As a homebuyer, it is important that you do your homework on any property before putting in an offer. Consulting with the above resources can help you get a more complete picture of the purchase you’re about to make. This information, paired with an inspection by the independent professionals at Inspections by Bob, can give you the tools you need to make an informed home choice. Call today!Tags: homebuying tips