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Buying a home is a huge commitment and investment, so it makes sense that before you close on the sale, you want to be sure you know what you’re getting into. That’s what doing your due diligence is all about, and a home buying checklist will save you stress and make your life easier. And while it’d be nice to be able to learn all you need to know at the first home tour, really doing your homework takes – well, work. There are a lot of factors to consider and it’s easy to forget to ask about stuff that’s actually kind of important. To help you gather all the info you’ll need, here are a few items that are often overlooked:
Know C.O. requirements: Before closing, you might want to consider asking the local construction officer to do a walk-through of the property to see what you need to do to get a certificate of occupancy (C.O.); if that’s not possible, make sure your home inspector knows the requirements for getting a C.O. to avoid costly surprises after closing.
Know what’s included – and what’s not: Do you know the difference between real and personal property? In a nutshell, items that are more or less permanently attached to the house are usually considered real property and are included in the sale; items that aren’t attached – like a swingset or refrigerator – may not be included. If you aren’t sure, ask your real estate agent and make sure the contract spells out what personal property is included and what’s not.
Know your neighbors: All those open houses and daytime tours are great for getting to see the property itself, but to really get a feel for the neighborhood and the people who’ll be living nearby, be sure to visit the neighborhood at off times, too, like later in the evening and on weekend days and nights. What seems like a typical suburban neighborhood Monday through Friday could turn out to be party central on weekends. Also check online for possible sex offenders who may be living in the area by visiting the National Sex Offender Public Website.
Know the neighborhood: Drive around the few blocks surrounding the home: Are there businesses in the area? Do they make a lot of noise? Even rural areas can have concerns like pesticide use and animal odors as well as noise from farm machinery or wind and solar farms. Visit at different times to learn about potential disturbances and consider calling the local government offices to learn about businesses and ask about business zoning that may allow future business development in the area.
Remember: There no such thing as too much diligence. Want more? Click here to download a handy buyer checklist form HUD.