1. Get a copy of the Sellers Disclosure.
Most real estate companies will require the owner of the property being sold to fill out a Sellers Property Disclosure Statement. This form consists of general questions about any changes to the property during the seller’s ownership that would be helpful information to the new buyer such as any repairs, additions, insurance claims, or any changes to the property during the current owner’s time of ownership. While a sellers disclosure is very important to have it should never replace a buyers need to have a thorough home inspection done on the property.
2. Compare closed sales of similar homes in the area.
To make sure the property you are buying is priced fairly it is wise to compare other sold homes in the same area or neighborhood that have similar features such as size, age, features, exterior frame (brick, stucco, vinyl). Make sure to use comparisons of sold properties within the last six months not homes that are currently for sale, since closed sales are a true indicator of market value.
3. Verify the property taxes.
It's very important to know the cost of the property taxes on the home you are interested in buying since this has a direct effect on your monthly mortgage payment. You can also check the history of the property taxes thru your county tax assessor’s office, to see exactly how much the property tax has increased over previous years. Knowing this information is also helpful in determining whether the home is appreciating in value.
4. Order a termite letter on the home.
Most lenders will require a current termite letter be done on the home. But even if not, be sure the letter states there are no active termites within a 30 day period of purchasing the property. This is also necessary even if the sellers have a current termite bond on the home and if they do, check to see if the bond is transferable to a new homeowner.
5. Order a survey
We recommend having a licensed surveyor perform a new survey of the property to determine if there are any encroachments from neighboring properties such as a fence line, utility shed, or drive way. Knowing this in advance will allow you to be aware of any encroachment issues and enable you to address the issue(s) in advance.
6. Order a Home Inspection on the property.
When making a written offer on a home, make sure the contract is contingent on a home inspection which allows you to void the contract should you find defects in the property the seller is not willing to fix or that seem obsessive.
7. Look up listing history of property thru Multiple Listing Service.
The number of days the house has been listed, if the house was reduced in price during the listing period, and if more than one real estate company has listed the house within a short period of time will help you determine how motivated the seller might be to sell or if there is concern why it has not sold before now. If the home you are considering buying is listed thru the local Multiple Listing Service with a licensed real estate broker, your selling agent will be able to check listing information that could provide you negotiation leverage in the offer on the house.
8. Obtain a copy of neighborhood covenants.
If the home is in a neighborhood, ask for a copy of the covenants. Also find out if the neighborhood association is actively enforcing the covenants .It is important to remember that not all neighborhoods have an active association and some associations have mandatory fees and others do not. Find out the status of your particular neighborhood thru your selling agent.
9. Verify property is not in flood plain and cost of homeowners insurance.
An additional cost that is associated with buying a home is the cost of homeowners insurance which covers loss to your property in the event of a fire, storm etc. Keep in mind that insurance rates will vary based on your credit rating, so be sure to verify the yearly cost since this will directly affect your monthly house payment.
10. Check national and local websites for crime and sexual predators.
Be sure to check state and local websites for registered sexual offenders that may live in the neighborhood you choose to live in