We all know the saying “try before you buy.” Akin to test-driving a car or trying on a new pair of shoes to ensure a perfect fit, a fair amount of due diligence applies to real estate transactions, too. Before making a decision, buyers should do their homework long before the “sold” sign is posted in the front yard.
Of course, it’s not always possible to live in a seller’s home while contemplating a purchase, so you may not know everything about a particular property until you move in. But there are several things (other than the obvious, such as location, design and price) that you should consider before signing on the so-called dotted line. Here are a few preliminary tasks that should be on any homebuyer’s checklist:
Play 20 (or more) questions
Prepare a comprehensive list of questions to ask the sellers. Has the house had any major problems? Recent repairs? What do they like best about the home?
Explore your surroundings
As they say, location is everything in real estate. And for a buyer, scoping out a home’s location should be a priority. First and foremost, do you like the location? What’s next door—the beach, a park or a cane field? What’s the traffic like going to and from the property? If you have children, where is the nearest school?
Talk to the neighbors
For obvious reasons, it’s a wise idea to check out the character of—and the characters in—what may soon be your new neighborhood.
Review tax bills
If it’s possible, ask the sellers to show you their most recent tax bills—again, for obvious reasons.
Schedule a home inspection
No home is perfect, and defects aren’t always obvious (or fixable, for that matter). A home inspection can save you money in the short- and long-term. Buyers should consider scheduling inspections for structural defects, as well as pests, radon and lead paint.
In real estate—like all things in life—it’s better to be safe than sorry. These are just some of the things to consider when buying a home. I will share a few more preliminary home buying tips in my next column.