If you’re preparing to move, you’ve probably already completed a home inspection and checked out the schools and neighbors. But you might want to get more pro-active and delve a little deeper to unearth any potential problems that could cause costly repairs down the line.
Here, Realtor.com offers nine things you want to be sure and examine before you buy.
1. Property lines
Property surveys can be expensive and even seem unnecessary, but you don’t want to be caught off guard if a property line dispute does arise. For example, if your driveway just happens to cross over your neighbor’s lawn, it might be impossible to make any future improvements. You also might even wind up in a legal dispute with your neighbors. Go ahead and pay for the survey beforehand to ensure that none of your projects will kick off a turf war.
2. Prior claims history
A long history of insurance claims can render a home uninsurable, making it a risky (and sometimes impossible) purchase. Even if previous claims aren’t severe enough to scare off the insurance agencies, your home’s history might indicate whether there will be repeated problems in the future, such as roof leaks, faulty plumbing or flooding.
Deciding to forego the pest inspection when purchasing a home can come back to haunt you. You can even make your offer conditional on an inspection. That means you are free to back out if any pests show up in the carpeting, or if you spot termites or carpenter ants chewing through your wood.
4. Detailed HOA information
First-time home buyers might be intimidated when buying a property with a homeowner’s association. But an HOA doesn’t have to be scary. Just check it out first by acquiring budgets, financial reports and meeting minutes. Also make sure that your neighbors are paying their dues and that the HOA has enough funds for necessary upkeep and repairs or you could end up paying more in the future.
5. Famous history
It’s a good idea to Google your potential address for any potential surprises, like ghosts or celebrities. If your home is rumored to be haunted or if someone famous lived there at one time, you could end up with regular visits from tourists and fans.
6. Flood zones
Flood insurance can add thousands of dollars to your insurance bills, but flood plains can’t always be easily spotted. If you’re on a tight budget, keep a close eye on the flood map. Typically, homeowners can’t elect to skip flood insurance if they’re in a hazard zone. Your insurance company (and possibly even your lender) might require it.
7. Master plan
If you’re buying in a newer neighborhood, be sure to check out the area’s overview of nearby land use and future development. Taking the time to find out what is planned for the area surrounding your neighborhood and home can go a long way when determining if your home is a good deal or a bad mistake.
8. Square footage
Inaccurate measurements can cause issues with your appraisal. Even if the square footage only is off by about 150 square feet, that could mean a big difference in price in a small space.
Checking out crime in the area is a must-do. For detailed criminal statistics, CrimeReports.com and SpotCrime offer extensive information on burglaries, auto thefts and violent assaults that have occurred nearby. You also might want to check the National Sex Offender Database (or Family Watchdog) to see who’s living nearby.