How to Research a House

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  • Are you ready for some detective work? It's best to discover problems before you ever write an offer.

    Becoming the Sherlock Holmes of Homes

    There are several things to look for when buying a house.  It’s best to do some research in the following ways before writing an offer so you don’t have to back out of the deal later on.

    Go on a Walkabout. Walk by the house at different times of day and days of the week.  Spend time in the neighborhood. You might be surprised by a noisy neighbor on Friday night or how friendly neighbors are on a Saturday afternoon. Talk to neighbors on either side of the home. You’ll gain insight into the home, but you’ll also find out if the neighbor is someone you don’t want to live next door to!  See How to Checkout a Neighborhood.

    Talk to Strangers! Ask at least 2 neighbors about the home and the neighborhood before buying a house.

    Days on Market (DOM). One of the most important things to consider when buying a house is how long it’s been on the market.   Your Buyer’s Agent has access to the “days on market” and the most recent price reduction.  The longer it’s been for sale at this price, the more flexible the seller should be.  See 3 Ways to Decide How Much to Offer on a House for more tips on seller’s motivation.

    Write an offer just before you think the seller will drop their price to avoid competition at the new price.

    Length of Ownership. How long has the seller owned the property? Property tax records show how long they’ve had it, and often how much they paid for it.  You guessed it, ask your Buyer’s Agent to look it up!

    Permits & Remodels. Check to see if building permits have been taken out for remodel projects in the home by going to your city or county website.  You need to be sure that work was done properly and safely.

    Flood Zones. Another thing to look for when buying a house is whether the home is in a flood zone.  Check the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 100 year flood zone map.  If it is, you’ll be required to have flood insurance plus the worry, of course, of having a flood!

    Coming Soon:  The National Association of Realtors(NAR) is creating an unprecedented database of info on every property in the US called  “Realtor’s Property Resource (RPR).”  Your Buyer’s Agent will use it to access to an immense amount of info for you.

    Your Buyer’s Agent can give you additional ideas for things to look for when buying a house in your area.

    Thinking of buying a home in the Portland, Oregon area?  Checkout our First Time Home Buyer Classes!

    How to Research a House was last modified: April 6th, 2012 by David Axness

    Choose a state from the drop-down menu for specific state information related to this lesson.

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