You found a home you want to buy – that’s so exciting! But, we have some advice for you before you pop the champagne.
Make sure to do your buyer due diligence first!
There are several steps you can take to make sure that the house will both fit your lifestyle and be in line financially with what you’ve planned. Let’s take a look at these two categories and how to do as much as you can to make sure this home is the right one for you.
When you talk to your lender to get pre-approved in the homebuying process, they will use an estimate for taxes and insurance based on the norm in the area where you are looking to purchase. However, there are times when a house is out of line with the norm.
- Taxes: Be sure to check the assessment on the city or county site to make sure the taxes aren’t out of line with the norm for your price point.
- Similarly, reach out to your insurance agent to see what the insurance will run on the home to make sure pricing is also in line with the norm. If there have been a lot of claims on a particular property, it can cause the insurance rates to rise.
- You’ll also want to check to see if the house is in a flood zone which will require added insurance. You may also want to check floodiq.com, which uses predictions based on research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). This site incorporates the predicted effect of climate change by home address and shows various tidal flood and hurricane scenarios now — and into the future.
LIFESTYLE & COMMUNITY
It is so important to love the community you will be a part of! Here are some things to check to make sure the community is everything you expect and need.
- Time of Day: Be sure to visit the neighborhood at different times of the day. Some neighborhoods feel very different at 9 a.m. than they do at 9 p.m. Similarly if there is time, check out the neighborhood on the weekend and during the week to get a true sense of the area.
- Commute: This is a big one in our area! While it’s always best to do the actual commute to work, school, or other important locations at different times of day, sometimes that is just not practical. The good news that Google Maps or Waze (for driving) and Metro’s website (for bus and Metro) can provide very accurate predictions for what to expect when commuting at different times of day.
FAIR HOUSING ISSUES
As agents, we are not allowed to discuss various things that fall under Fair Housing laws, including school ratings and crime in a neighborhood. If these issues are important to you, be sure to do your own research. Even though your agent can’t talk to you about these items, they can often point you in the right direction or put you in touch with clients who live in the neighborhood.
- Schools: You’ll want to be sure to confirm the school district with the actual district and not rely on what you see on Zillow.
- Sex Offenders: If you want to check out if there are any sex offenders in your future neighborhood, be sure to visit the National Sex Offender Registry.
- Crime: If you are concerned about crime, give the local police department a call.
In addition to the above, I’d be remiss in not mentioning a couple of other tips we’ve picked up over the years.
- Once you’re interested in a house, even if you haven’t been through it yet, it’s critical that you let your agent know right away!!!
- Once your agent knows you’re interested, she can advise if you need to see the house right away or if it’s okay to go to the open house. Often in this market, waiting for the open house is too late! The house may sell before then or may require doing a pre-offer inspection in order to compete.
- There are several other buyer due diligence items that your agent should do on the home if you’re interested as well. Giving your Realtor enough time to ask the listing agent the right questions and do the proper research is critical!
- Your Realtor will also let you know if you need to move on the house right away. In some cases, there may not be time to do all of the above, so starting the process of your due diligence on neighborhoods before you’re ready to buy is always a smart move!
If you’d like to chat about the buying process or buyer due diligence, either virtually or in person, we’re always happy to talk! Just fill in the form below and we will get right back to you. Be sure to check our guide for first-time home buyers too.