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Overlooked Factors to Consider While Home Shopping

It's human nature to overlook negative factors involved when we've made up our minds on something, but this is particularly a bad idea when shopping for a home. Some home shoppers make up their minds they want a home without even looking through all the rooms because they fall in love with the exterior and the kitchen, for example. Because of this tendency, it's a good idea to be thorough in your investigation of a house before putting in an offer. Below is a list of key areas that are sometimes overlooked but should be considered by every homebuyer before tendering an offer.

One thing to remember about home shopping is to stop by a home at different times of the day. Your agent will likely show the home in the middle of the day, or in the morning. Perhaps you're looking for a quiet neighborhood and the home fits the bill perfectly when you first see it. But come back to see how things look during the evening rush hour. You can't really know what the neighborhood is like with one brief visit, so take some time to get to know the neighborhood before making an offer. You can also have conversations with neighbors, to pick their brains about the neighborhood's pros and cons. Keep an eye on the local news, as well, watching out for any issues such as contaminants in the water supply or local crime waves. It's also a good idea to touch base with local officials to find out if any projects are planned that may affect the neighborhood, such as new power lines, construction projects or zoning changes.

It's also a good idea to ask plenty of questions to the seller or his agent. Ask about any problems that have come up since the seller has owned the property, such as burst pipes, foundation or roof problems. The seller may believe that those past issues are not relevant to you, because they've been fixed, but it's good to know about them so you can advise your home inspector to look for problems. A home inspection, meanwhile, is perhaps the most important step a homebuyer should take. All homes have some type of defect or another, and knowing about all of them can help you negotiate a lower price or even convince you to avoid a costly mistake. All home inspectors will check foundation, electrical and other factors, though not all will include checks for lead paint, radon or termites. If the home you're buying is older than 25 years, it's a good idea to include these checks as well.

Another factor many people don't think about is utility bills. Ask the seller about how much they spend, both in the summer, or even ask to see the bills, if possible. Unusually high bills can reveal insulation problems or issues with doors and windows that might not be apparent to the naked eye. The same thing goes for taxes. Ask to see several of the seller's recent tax bills. Not only will this give you an idea of what you will be paying if you buy the house, it will also tell you if the local government re-appraises homes every year, thus raising the homeowners' tax bills.

Finally, take a drive through the area surrounding a home before submitting an offer. The home may be on a quiet residential street, but there might be a bus depot or train tracks just a few blocks away. If quiet is important to you, then you will want to explore several square miles around the home, keeping an eye out for hospitals, airports or any other high noise places. You should also be on the lookout for run-down neighborhoods backed up to nicer communities, agricultural operations or industrial facilities that produce unpleasant odors.

April 10, 2014