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The process of finding a home is stressful, exhausting, and often filled with let-downs as the “perfect” house online is the ugly duckling once you open the door. But you’ve survived the home search trials and now are ready to write an offer to purchase on your chosen property. In my many years of real estate rarely did I help someone buy a home that wasn’t nervous and mildly second-guessing themself just before signing the offer sheet. In order to reduce the stresses involved with signing the offer, I tell my clients to do these 10 things to guarantee that this IS the perfect house for them.
- Look at the home during the day– Now that it’s winter, the days are shorter and there’s a higher likely hood of only viewing the home after work. Go during the daylight to get a full sense of the home and the surroundings. Daylight provides the opportunity to fully review the exterior condition as well as the dark corners of the interior.
- Review the neighborhood crime report– You have two options to find good neighborhood crime data: 1) Talk to the local police & 2) Go to www.crimereports.com to find zip-code specific data.
- Review the State sex offender list– If asked, your Realtor will legally not be able to tell you if there is a sex offender in the neighborhood, instead s/he should point you to a State run website that lists all the registered sex offenders. A great place to start your search is the National Sex Offender Registry website.
- Check school scores– Even if you aren’t a parent (or plan on being one) when it comes time to sell your home, those buyers might be and schools will play a major role in where people choose to live. Visit www.schooldigger.com for your local schools’ scores
- Time your travels– When my wife and I were looking for homes, I required that we live within a 10 minute drive to the nearest grocery store. We measured the distances for our commutes, daily errands, and schools to determine if the home were closer or further from our current home, and if that increase in time was fine with each of us.
- Look for local amenities– Expanding on the above point, investigate all the local amenities for local activities that might have gone unknown. A great site to check out is www.walkscore.com.
- Talk to the neighbors– The neighbors often know insider stories of your potential home and can give great advice on the neighborhood in general.
- Review your numbers again– Connect with your mortgage broker to get a new calculation on what your monthly mortgage payment will be at different price points. Rarely do sellers agree to the first offer, so make sure you are comfortable with the mortgage payment at the higher price.
- Review dates– When writing an offer to purchase there will be many dates involved: inspection date, loan commitment date, close date just to name a few. Make sure that you are comfortable with the dates included in the offer. If you’re looking for a quick close and currently rent, make sure your current lease allows for a quick exit. Also, many Realtors don’t like closing on Fridays because if there is any paperwork issue, the closing will be moved to Monday and you lose the weekend to move. One extra day added to the mortgage is very cheap insurance.
- Take a deep breath and enjoy– This is an exciting chapter of your life, enjoy it. If there is anything you don’t understand in the paperwork, ask questions. Your Realtor wants a smooth transaction and for you to be completely comfortable with what you’re signing.