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Buying a home is a serious and expensive commitment.
If you’re searching for new place to live, you’ve probably spent a lot of time going over your wish list: the number of bedrooms, the square footage, a gourmet kitchen. But many prospective homeowners spend so much time stressing over these details that they fail to consider their new surroundings. To ensure you’re getting the home and community of your dreams, it takes some investigating to get an accurate picture of the overall quality of life that awaits you.
Here are seven illuminating things every would-be homebuyer should take the time to do.
- Spend some time there.
You are your own best research tool. When you’re house-hunting, don’t just tour the property. Walk down the street and get a feel for the neighborhood, too. If you see the neighbors outside, ask them how they like living in the area. It’s also a good idea to drive through the community on various days and times. Is it safe and well-lit at night? Is it boisterous on the weekend? Having multiple perspectives will provide a more realistic assessment of the area.
- Check out the rules and covenants.
Homeowners Association (HOA) rules are intended to help maintain property values and protect shared community property, but they tend to be restrictive. Before agreeing to purchase a home in an HOA community, ask to see the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). These are the rules that govern the neighborhood and if you don’t adhere to them, the HOA can place a lien on your home and even foreclose on it. Most homeowners in HOA communities greatly benefit from the amenities provided, but it’s still a good idea to find out in advance what’s in the agreement.
- What are the costs of living in your new locale?
Most people give a lot of thought to their mortgage payments, but they often fail to consider other required expenses like taxes, fees, and insurance. HOA fees can be exorbitant and insurance costs can vary widely too, depending on the area. For example, if your new neighborhood is in a designated flood zone, the mortgage lender will likely require you to purchase flood insurance. Be sure to discuss with your real estate agent how the prices for any homes you’re considering compare to others in the neighborhood. This is useful information to have ahead of time, as your home’s value will be affected by the value of other residences in the community.
- How safe is it?
Use the information available at your fingertips to review quantitative data such as crime statistics, police activity, and neighborhood trends. Free online tools like CityProtect.com and AreaVibes.com make it easy to assess the relative safety of an area, while sites like Family Watchdog allow you to see if there are any registered sex offenders in the vicinity.
- Are people coming or going?
Keep an eye out for other “For Sale” signs. If people seem to be moving away, find out what’s causing this exodus before purchasing a home there. High residential turnover is often caused by rampant unemployment, a skyrocketing cost of living, or surging crime rates.
- Watch for signs of obvious property neglect.
Take a good look at the homes surrounding your potential new residence, as well as those down the street and in the vicinity. Uncut grass, trash and clutter in the yard, and overgrown flowerbeds are all signs of neglect. Are the houses themselves well-maintained or are they shoddy and in need of a coat of paint or other repairs? If they’re desperate for some loving care, it could be a red flag. While homes may be older or modest in size, their yards and exteriors should still indicate pride of ownership.
- Are the amenities plentiful and appealing?
Drive around the area and take note of nearby features. Parks, museums, public transit systems, grocery stores, highly-rated schools, and local hotspots are generally desirable, so proximity to those things will add to the home’s resale value. On the other hand, power lines, factories, highways, and airports are serious detractors.
It’s easier to avoid a home-buying mistake when you take the time to fully research your new neighborhood in advance. If you have questions are need more information, the knowledgeable professionals at Certified Title are here to help. Please reach out to us anytime.
About Certified Title Corporation: Since 1994, attorney-owned Certified Title Corporation has been furnishing residential and commercial real estate stakeholders across the nation with robust title insurance, settlement, and escrow services. Renowned for industry-leading reliability and an exemplary level of service and quality, the Maryland-based company helps clients from all walks of life achieve their asset goals. To learn more, call (888)486-5511 or visit https://www.certifiedtitlecorp.com/.
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