Buying a new home can be a daunting prospect, especially for first time homebuyers. There are many factors to consider, and most ordinary purchasers have a list of priorities. Free-range shopping is the best way to approach home buying, and buyers should obviously look for what they want first and foremost. That said, there are a few general tips that buyers should keep in mind.
We are not referring to basic information like “have a good credit score” or “make sure it fits your price range.” For the most part, everyone already knows some basic information about home buying. As attorneys, however, we see a lot of unhappy customers and we wanted to pass along some more unconventional advice that homebuyers should keep in mind.
Survey the property and hire a home inspector
Border disputes between neighbors are incredibly common for various reasons. Knowing exactly where your property line is could affect possible improvement ideas you have for the home such as building a fence or extending a screened-in porch. Similarly a home inspector will hopefully be able to catch any problems with the home itself and keep you from buying the equivalent of a lemon.
Consider all of your surroundings
Most people think about two things when they buy a home – the home itself and the cost. Many more people consider other important factors such as what the closest school is or how the rest of the neighborhood appears. These are all important things to check for, but once you move in, you may find yourself considering other factors such as where the nearest grocery store is, or whether the local gas stations regularly charge more than you are used to. Make sure to think about all of those factors before purchasing.
Think About Outside Access and Public Transit
Similarly to the notion of checking for useful nearby services, is it easy to get from your home to other parts of the area? Very few people strongly consider public transit options prior to purchasing a home only to learn later that the bus routes are needlessly circuitous or that the subway lines require multiple train transfers before arrival.
What some homebuyers find helpful is to visit the home and spend half a day simulating a commute. If the route is too lengthy or traffic is always congested, it may be your dream home, but a nightmare for other reasons.
Ask a local
If you are moving to a new location (works best in small towns) that you know very little about, find a local coffee shop and approach someone who looks like they have lived in the area for a while and ask him or her if they know anything about the home.
You would be surprised what locals in small communities know about their respective neighbors’ properties from recognizing bad construction to rumors about hauntings (homebuyers accidently purchase haunted houses more often that you would expect).
Question the purpose and placement of everything
If you are taking a tour of a home, you should know and understand that both the realtor and the current homeowners have done everything in their power to market their home for sale. This means that they have placed each piece of furniture meticulously and the home looks in its best possible condition. Don’t forget to question what lies behind the marketing façade.
Is a dresser ideally placed in a room for its positioning, or is it hiding mold growth on the wall behind it? Are there any abnormally high amounts of scented candles? If so, the homeowner may be hiding pet odor. Once, we had a client come to us with a unique problem: the home had a large hole in the wall that was obscured by the convenient placement of a large hanging mirror at the time of sale.
Consider access rights
This is another easement-related tip, but how are you accessing the property you are purchasing? We once worked on a case where a homeowner purchased a home in a small subdivision (only four homes) that had two roads exiting to the main road. Little did the homeowner realize that both roads were actually on a neighbor’s property. This created an interesting problem because the previous owner had a right of access on those roads, but when our client moved in, he and the neighbor did not get along, and the owner of the property containing the roadways placed locked gates along both roads and gave the other two homeowners keys.
Most home sale transactions are simple and low risk; however, people make bad deals and poor transactions all of the time. Hopefully, this list of home buying tips clued you into some of the more unusual things that you should be looking at in a new home. If you are planning to purchase a new home in the future or you are worried that you made a bad transaction, call Law Offices of Yuriy Moshes. Our law firm is a full-service real estate law firm taking clients in New York and New Jersey. We provide free intake consultations for our real estate clients.