When searching for your next home, you are likely focused on the location, the number of bedrooms, the features, and more. But what you might not be thinking about is the property history.
Even if the home fits your requirements and the price is right, the home could be hiding a checkered past.
Finding out the history of a house could be the key to making the right purchase decision. Some properties are issue free, while others could have vital information you’ll want to investigate. Everyone’s comfort level is different. We look at the questions you need to research before buying a home.
You should also investigate any potential neighborhood as part of your due diligence process.
Is there any stigmatization with the home?
When you buy a home, you will look to the future, not the past. But the property could have a hidden past that could cause you problems in the future. A stigmatized home could have a bad reputation that might reduce its value.
The home might have been involved in crime, there could have been a violent death, a previous owner might have had regular visits from debt collectors, or maybe the home is considered haunted. Whatever the cause of the stigma, it is something you will want to know about before you buy.
But how do you know if your potential home has a stigmatization?
You could find the history of a house just by asking the real estate agent if the home is stigmatized. Whether they will reveal a stigma may depend on the disclosure laws in the state. A few states require recent deaths to be revealed to buyers, and sometimes there are other disclosures, like methamphetamine production in Illinois.
You can also check online for information or news stories about the home that could reveal a stigma. Criminal activity can also be checked online for the area. But if you want to learn about a stigma and more, try chatting with a neighbor.
Are there any sexual predators nearby?
If you are moving into a new home with your family, you don’t want to discover a sexual predator is living next door. While the seller might be required to disclose information like this, the requirements vary in different states.
Fortunately, it is easy to check for sex offenders online. There are websites like FamilyWatchDog.us that allow you to use your ZIP code to search the local area. This will show a map indicating the locations of different types of offenders.
Real Estate agents and home buyers should understand Megan’s Law.
Did the seller pull permits for work done to the house?
Another thing to research before buying is the building permits. The previous owner might have made some improvements that attracted you to the home, but if they didn’t get the proper permits, it would be a problem.
Permits ensure work on the home is safe, and inspections might be required to check the construction during building work. If a home doesn’t have the required permits, there could be outstanding fees, the work might not have been done to a good standard, and you might have to redo work if you want to remodel.
Permits will also show that the seller’s disclosures are accurate and reveal when repairs and changes to the home were completed.
Without permits, the title company might not insure the home, making it more difficult to sell later. And if the owner wasn’t willing to spend a few hundred dollars on a permit, where else would they have tried to cut corners?
Permits can usually be checked on the city’s or county’s website. You can phone or visit the building official’s office if this isn’t available for the property’s location.
Has the home ever had any water penetration, Including basement, roof leaks, or ice dams?
If water finds its way into your home, it will cause much damage that might not always be obvious. Finding out if it has had a history of these problems is essential.
You should have the home inspected; the inspector’s report could reveal these problems. Stains on ceilings, walls, and floors could indicate water damage. Sometimes paint and wallpaper will peel or bubble due to water.
If the basement has moisture on walls or signs and smells of mold, it will show previous or current problems. Water could enter if the roof shows signs of damage, with missing shingles or flashing. If there have been ice dams, there might be signs of damage in the attic.
Simply asking the owner could also reveal these previous problems and information about the work done to fix the issues.
Doing extensive research into a home before you commit to buying is always a good idea. Even if everything appears perfect, there could be problems that you will want to know about before buying.
Your home is a big investment, and you want to ensure you aren’t making a mistake. So taking some extra time to thoroughly research could be a valuable choice.