3 Things for New Home Buyers to Check On-Line
A Home of Your Own
Home Ownership is a BIG Investment
Home, Sweet Home. Despite the challenging economy, Americans still dream of owning, rather than renting, a place to live. For people who have been able to hang onto enough savings for a down payment and who can qualify for a mortgage, here are 3 things to check on before one makes the HUGE investment.
The Usual Inspections
A licensed realtor is an incredible asset and advisor. This person can guide the first-time home buyer through all the gobbledy-gook of termite inspections, radon checks, and title insurance. Often, a realtor knows the service providers which are worth their fees and those to avoid.
Furthermore, a realtor with a solid reputation can ease the way for a buyer who may be a little weak on paper, but who is an honest, hard-working person that will be a credit to the community. Most realtors are worth their commission.
Checks You Can Make
In addition to the knowledge and resources of a realtor, there are checks the home buyer can make on his own. The age of internet information is a boon to gain information that would have been impossible to ferret out 30 years ago. The following information sites will save much heartache later on.
1. Flood Probability
Flood insurance is not usually part of a home owner policy. it is an optional and EXPENSIVE add-on. Plus, if one can avoid living with the fear that her entire ground-level floor may be destroyed, that is a good thing. This government website will inform you if an address has low-to-moderate flood risk or high flood risk. Also, it provides the names and contact information for insurance agents who can write flood insurance policies. I recommend that if you do not want the probability of flooding hanging over your head, that you check addresses on this site before you agree to look at a property.
2. Sexual Predators in the Neighborhood
Unfortunately, in my opinion, punishment does not always fit the crime. I refer to sexual predators. I cannot do much to change this situation, but a home owner or buyer can find out where they live. Megan's Law provides a way for learning the addresses of convicted sex offenders.
Each state has its own system for making the address and employment information available to the public. Do a search to find the site for your state. Then, if this information is important to you, enter the address of homes you are considering before you agree to look at them. If you have children or expect grandchildren to come visit, I suggest you check this.
In Pennsylvania, the website is run by the state police at:
3. Frequency of Crimes in the Neighborhood
Now we can research the records of arrests made in some places. I use the real estate site of Trulia. Its listings for homes includes a map upon which you can click to reveal the "density" of crimes committed. It is color-coded. The areas that are red are high crime. Then they fade to lighter red and yellow as crime decrease. The best areas are colored green. Green means go. Again, why not save yourself disappointment as you shop[ for your dream house? Check the address at Trulia before going to look at a property.
Go Forth and Buy with Confidence
It is a brave new world. Although these new sources of information are fantastic, in the end, your gut will tell you what to do. Best wishes to you!
Photo and text copyright 2012 Maren E. Morgan.