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Caveat Emptor (Let The Buyer Beware)HOME BUYER - CHECK IT OUT

Updated on February 22, 2014

Sweat The Small Stuff - Things To Consider

How savvy are you when it comes to buying real estate? A seasoned buyer knows that while aesthetics are often the first draw for prospective buyers, there is much more to be considered. Take note of the small stuff. Those who have little to no experience in buying properties can avoid some of the pitfalls by doing their homework, learning what to ask and where to find answers, making them less likely to fall prey to Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware). Things to consider:


Everybody has water, right? Sure, but there are things you need to know, such as quality, quantity and taste. Water issues will differ in relation to location of the property, i.e. city or rural areas.

a. Taste – Don’t be shy; ask to taste the water. Will it make good tea or will it turn dark, cloudy, or filmy? If it isn’t good water, are you willing to purchase bottled water for all drinking purposes from now on or to put in a filtering system?

b. Quality – Besides the reasons mentioned above, quality of water has bearing on other aspects of your life. Find out what minerals it contains. Although filters may take care of the problem, water can be “slick”, making it easy to fall when getting out of the bath/shower. Laundry is often an issue. Are your whites always going to look a little dingy? Is your hair going to show changes due to the water? Is the water hard or soft?

c. Quantity – This may be more of a rural issue, however some cities have times during summer months where water use may be limited. For rural areas or those living just outside of city limits, the source of water may be from wells. While city residents may have water even though the electricity is out, well water users may not have that luxury. Does the well ever run low, or dry, during any time of the year?

d. If well water is the main source of water, other questions you should ask are:

1) Is the pump submergible and how old is the pump?

2) How old is the well and how deep is the well?

3) What kind of casing does the well have and is it in good shape?

4) What was the last trouble the homeowner had with the well?

5) Use the information you collect to research via internet and/or expert to discern approximately how long before the present well may need to be replaced.

Sewer Systems

Always ask if there are any problems with the sewer system, inside the house or outside the house. Problems could be anything from bad plumbing to tree roots growing into the system or low lying areas having problems with backup. Those issues relate to city or rural properties, but rural dwellers may have other issues also since their sewer systems are individual systems, rather than part of a larger system. Questions to ask if the property is located in rural areas:

1) How big is the septic tank?

2) Do they ever have problems with back up?

3) How long since it was last cleaned out?

4) What type of lateral lines and how many feet of lateral line is there?

5) How long has the present system been in operation?

6) Was it put in by a professional and inspected/approved, or was it a job that may have been competed by a group of friends, etc?

7) Assuming they have clean out valves on the system, and if you have decided to buy, you will want to know where they are located.

8) What kind of cover is on the tank? It should be the same material the tank is made from. Heavy wooden planks is not a good answer.


Additions, which may be located on edges of town and give the appearance and feel of rural living, many times have restrictions. If you raise dogs to sell, you’ll certainly want to know if a restriction exists where no animals may be raised or bred for commercial purposes on the property. Some additions may require architectural approval prior to building a home, everything from minimum size to style. As always, read the fine print.

Right of Way

You’ve found that perfect weekend getaway for your wilderness loving family and you’ve decided to purchase a cabin in the area. Don’t wait until the papers are signed to figure out you may have to be drop shipped to actually get on the property, that having access depends on the good nature of your neighbor. One of the priorities on your list when purchasing remote real property should be access - making certain permanent right of way is included where necessary.


Low Lying Properties – Be aware of problems occurring with low lying properties and make it your business to find out if the property you are considering purchasing has those problems. Sewer problems and flooding should be foremost on the list.

Railroad Tracks – Of course, you are aware of the noise level and vibrating associated with living near railroad tracks, but do you know the metal wheels running on the track can make sparks which sometimes cause fire to break out in areas where dry grass is close to the tracks? If tracks run through or near the property you are contemplating purchasing, determine how close the dwelling is to the tracks and what lies between the two. Also if you have teens, consider the safety issue and the fact that they may be driving across railroad tracks coming and going from home on a daily basis.

The more questions you ask, the more information you gather to make an informed decision on the property you are considering buying. An informed buyer is more likely to be a satisfied buyer.


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