You have been looking for the perfect house for months and finally found it. If you are like most of us, your home will be the largest purchase you ever make so take the time to do your research and make sure you know everything you can about the home you are buying. Don’t become so obsessed with research that you don’t ever find the right house but do take the time to answer important questions and educate yourself before you jump in. Here are six things to investigate before you buy a home.
- Utility bills. Before you make an offer an a home, ask to see a copy of the utility bills and not just one month. Ask for a year’s worth. While the utility bills themselves aren’t likely to keep you from buying a home, they may give you an indication if a home is poorly insulated or has an HVAC system that doesn’t operate efficiently.
- Go a little beyond the utility bills and make sure you understand what kind of utilities the home has. Assuming the home is served by public water and sewer because it is located right in town may not be good. There are exceptions to every rule and you don’t want to be surprised when the septic tank needs to be pumped because you didn’t know it had one.
- Schools are hugely important. Even if you don’t have children in school, the local schools for the property can make a big difference when it comes time to sell your home. The perfect house in a school district no one wants to live in will always be a tough sell.
- Practice driving to the house. This isn’t about driving. This is about routine. If you will be dropping the kids off at school on the way to work and that takes 30 extra minutes because of traffic that time of day, you need to know that. Whatever your regular routine is, try it with the new address and confirm the new traffic patterns won’t make things more difficult than you can manage.
- Ask your agent to analyze the surrounding properties values. Historically, real estate is a strong investment but if you are in an area with declining values, don’t let that be a surprise after you move in.
- Look up the property taxes. Ask the seller for several years’ worth of property tax receipts if you can’t access the information online so you can see if the taxes are trending up or down.
Buying a home is a huge commitment that requires a lot of thought and diligence. Most of these items will not keep you from buying the house on their own but they will allow you to better understand the house you are buying. Because buying a home is most frequently a long term decision, make sure you truly understand your decision before you fully commit.