There are some very important things that every buyer should know about a home before signing on the dotted line. Most people, real estate agents included, think a professional inspection and an appraisal will uncover everything you need to know about a house. While we agree that no home should be bought without an appraisal and full property inspection, we also think there are a few other items that are equally as important.
Utilities: A good way to tell how well a home is built is to call electric and gas utility companies to get a sense for how much it will cost you to heat the home in the winter. Most utility companies will give you an average and a high and low over the last year and some will even go back a few years. This information will not only give you a good idea of what to expect but also might point to some repairs or improvements that need to be made.
Also, be sure to take a look at the furnace and hot water heater during one of your visits. There should be a sticker on each that will tell you how often they have been serviced and when. If it has been a few years since the last service on either piece of equipment it might be a good idea to call a local HVAC company or plumber to come take a look. A simple $85.00 inspection could save you a lot of money down the line.
Permits: Check Deschutes County Dial for permits pulled on the property. If you find permits that were opened but never closed you could end up buying a house that you can’t sell without performing thousands of dollars in repairs first. We had buyers who found a house they loved. One of the attractions of the house was a living space under the house the sellers had finished but never received final approval for. Turns out the sellers made some errors in their construction that would have cost our buyers almost $10,000 to correct. The buyers wisely walked away from the deal.
Listen to the sellers and their agent. If they talk about remodeling this or that ask them exactly what was done then check for permits. Not every improvement requires a permit but the city or county can tell you if one should have been applied for.
Neighborhood: If you are going to buy a house the neighborhood comes with it. Good, bad and unbelievable. Drive around the neighborhood not just the street your house is on. What do the houses two streets over look like? Are you going to have to drive that street to get home? Visit the neighborhood at various times of the day and night. The street your house is on may have been quiet for your showing at 11 am but what happens when everyone comes home after work? What route do your neighbors use to leave the neighborhood? Do they all have to drive by your house?
What about your immediate would-be neighbors? Do they have barking dogs or children that like to use your yard as a shortcut? Or maybe one of them (imagine a big over-weight man) likes to water the yard half naked but uses a hose instead of a sprinkler so you have to watch him.
Taking a few extra steps can be the difference between buying the home of your dreams and a home that nightmares are made of.