When you’re buying a home, it’s easy to let emotions get in the way of reality. Here are few things to consider when buying your home.
Visit at various times of day.
That seemingly quiet residential street may be a noisy, highway-feeder street during morning or evening rush hour. The adjacent school may seem like a nice perk if you’re buying in the summer, but during the school year, daily playground noise and extra traffic may be more than you bargained for.
Talk to neighbors.
How many people in the neighborhood own their homes? What do neighbors say are the pros and cons of the area?
If the neighborhood has an association.
Ask how often does the neighborhood get together? Do they have a block party every year? The fact that they’re having a gathering says they care about their community, that they want to get to know each other, that they’re willing to socialize that way. People who behave that way are building a community. They’re going to look out for your kids; they’re going to look out for your house.
Really pay attention to disclosures provided. Even better if the seller is willing to speak with you.
Ask what past problems are the sellers aware of? Even if the issues have been fixed, it’s good to know that the house may be prone to, say, ice dams or water leaks so that you can take preventive measures rather than find out the hard way. If you know that the basement flooding was solved by building up the landscaping in a particular area, you won’t level the ground there.
Get a home inspection.
Virtually all houses have defects. Some are obvious, and most are curable. But knowing what needs repair can help you negotiate a lower price — or at least prepare you for costs you’ll soon incur. Strongly consider getting above and beyond a general building inspection make sure to get inspections for septic, air quality and water quality.
Get detailed records on past improvements.
This isn’t always possible. But if you’re told the house’s exterior was painted two years ago — and then see a receipt noting the whole project cost just $1,000 — then you’re forewarned that cheaper materials were used and that you may be looking at repainting sooner than you thought.
Don’t assume remodeling will be easy.
If you voice your ideas to the sellers, you may glean valuable insights. For instance, perhaps that shower is in an odd location because, when the previous owners remodeled 10 years ago, they discovered a costly structural impediment to putting a shower where it would seem more appropriate.
Ask for utility bills.
You may love the Cape Cod architectural style and the charm you are looking for but have older windows and insulation, or the high ceilings in a newer home, but those winter heating and summer cooling bills may not fit your monthly budget.
Explore the surrounding area.
If you’re new to the area, you may not know that only three blocks away, this pretty neighborhood backs up to a dumpy commercial zone or a less-than-savory part of town. If the home is near an airport, fire station, police station, hospital or railroad track, expect to hear trains, planes or ambulances throughout the day and night. Make sure you’re not too close to a dump, a farm or other areas that may generate odors.