Dig a little deeper and you may find that your dream home is a nightmare, one best avoided because your research has revealed certain hidden truths.
At a glance, the neighborhood looks clean, well kept and safe. Most homes are presentable with manicured lawns, featuring tidy fences separating properties, and peppered with an assortment of outdoor structures in good repair.
The neighborhood, however, may have a higher than usual crime problem, something that you would not necessarily know without checking with the local police department first. A recently closed meth lab, a still active rehab home and a preponderance of rental properties are matters that should concern you.
Home Inspection and History
On the surface, a home may look great. You won’t really know what condition it is apart from a home inspection. Even if an inspection is not required, you should pay for one. Choose a home inspector who will do a thorough job of looking at the home’s history and anticipating repairs that you can expect during the first few years of ownership.
Expect that your home inspector will find some problems that are minor and can be remedied easily including a leaky toilet, a broken light fixture or a branch hanging over the home that should be trimmed. More worrisome are problem areas that won’t easily go away such as a damp basement with toxic black mold in evidence; a deteriorating roof that has been patched, but needs replacing; an electrical system that was poorly wired or even a structural problem. These repairs may be costly with neither the current owner nor you willing to bear the expense.
City Planning Changes
Your desired home and neighborhood may be in transition and you may not even know it. The city has plans to turn the two-lane road just outside of your subdivision into a four-lane highway. That highway will feed into the planned interstate extension that will soon run along your neighborhood’s perimeter, bringing with it traffic that you can hardly imagine and will soon hear morning, noon and night.
If you are unfamiliar with your neighborhood chances are that your real estate agent is. Ask her or him if there are any major plans being proposed that might dramatically change the neighborhood’s complexion. Besides a new road, a mall, an expanded school or an airport can make a big difference in traffic patterns and noise. Visit your town’s website and read up on proposed changes that will affect where you want to live.
You can also uncover many things about a neighborhood by visiting it at different times of the day and week. Your initial visit on a Sunday afternoon may hide the fact that people cut through the neighborhood during the week. Also, current residents can reveal tidbits about a neighborhood that no real estate agent might know, revealing matters that have been ignored.