Deciding to buy a home is a big decision, and you need to ensure that you have done everything possible to protect your investment. Your lender will require an appraisal, a title search, and probably a home inspection, but there is quite a bit more you should do to protect yourself and your home.
- Be sure to get a copy of the appraisal, title search, and home inspection. That way you can review them and ask questions if you have concerns.
- Obtain a survey. It is an additional expense, but by doing so you will know things like if the neighbor’s fence is encroaching on the property before it’s your problem. It should also let you know if there are any easements, such as for utilities or a shared driveway.
- Are you purchasing a condo, townhome or a home with a homeowners’ association (HOA)? Ask for copies of the restrictive covenants and the minutes of the last 6-12 months of HOA board meetings. Review the covenants to understand your obligations to the HOA, in addition to your monthly dues. The minutes should give you an understanding of how the HOA works – when they meet, what is its financial situation, what are other issues? Also ask if there is an assessment, where HOA board of directors may impose an assessment fee to pay for expenses that are not covered under the monthly dues. These assessments can be very high, especially when communities are assessing for a major repair like new roofs.
- If you haven’t already, get online. Google the neighborhood, the schools and the local businesses, and be sure to review the sex offender registry.
- Find out if the home is in a floodplain and if there have been any recent floods. Flooding patterns are changing and most people don’t learn they aren’t covered for flooding until they’ve already had a flood loss.
- Drive through your future neighborhood at various times of the day and week. Make sure you’re comfortable with the lighting, the traffic, and the area of town. Ask your future neighbors, how they like living in the community.
- Make sure that you address all of your concerns within the due diligence period. If you wait, you may not be able to cancel the transaction without penalties.
- If you still have questions, contact an attorney with experience in real estate matters. We are happy to help you during this process!