It’s tempting to just sign on the dotted line when you want something badly. Emotions have a funny way of making otherwise important factors look small and negligible. But before you commit to buying that nice, new Indianapolis home, there are a few less obvious steps you can take to avoid buyer’s remorse.
Come back at various times of the day. A house may look great at one time of day, but you may not be getting the full picture. For example, a neighborhood might seem nice and quiet in the afternoon. But if it’s located down the street from a major highway, it could become quite noisy during morning or evening rush hour. If it’s located off a feeder street then even getting out of the neighborhood could prove to be a daily chore. Or what about noisy neighbors with booming stereos, who only become a problem when they get home in the evening? These are just a few examples of things that would only be apparent at certain times of day.
Find out about things to come. Reading the news can yield important information about future happenings that could have a major impact on your quality of life, and even the resale value of your home. For example, maybe homes in the neighborhood will be forced to connect to a municipal water line. Or maybe a proposed high-voltage will seriously detract from the home’s otherwise pleasant view. What about waste from nearby industry? Maybe run-off contamination is an issue. You should also consider talking to the city and county. These and many other factors could be waiting to rear their head if you don’t do your due diligence.
Talk to neighbors. Pride of ownership can make a huge difference in a neighborhood. But how many people in the neighborhood actually own their homes? It can be anything but obvious at first glance. But living in a neighborhood dominated by rentals comes with certain concerns. For one, you never know who the next renters will be. Will they bring an incessantly barking dog, loud stereos, or even an unsavory group of associates? This is not to impugn the character renters in general. But if a sense of continuity is important, then living in a neighborhood that has frequent turnover may not be the best idea.
Find out about any neighborhood association. Ask for a copy of the newsletter if possible. Try to find out as much as you can, such as the frequency of meetings, get-togethers and parties. It doesn’t mean you have to attend. But just knowing that a neighborhood association cares enough to be involved is a good sign. It means there they see themselves as building a community. It means more vigilance over the neighborhood, and more community pride.
Talk to sellers. It’s always a good idea to talk to the sellers to learn of any problems they’ve had in the past, whether with the house or with the neighborhood. For example, maybe a damp basement was caused by an improperly sloped yard on one side of the home. Knowing that the problem was fixed by building up that part of the yard will save you from unknowingly paying to have it leveled in the future.
Get a home inspection. There can be any number of unobvious things wrong with a house. This is all the more true for older homes. It may be tempting to save yourself the money, especially when everything looks good on the surface. But a home inspection can uncover all kinds of little, and even not-so-little, problems. By knowing what’s wrong with a home you are better able to negotiate the fairest price. Among the top things to look for are lead paint, radon, wood-boring pests, structural issues, electrical, plumbing and mold.
Get receipts for past improvements. Knowing that a home was repainted is great. Knowing that it cost just $1,200 is not so great, since it means you will more than likely have to pay to have it redone in the not-too-distant future. Seeing the receipts also shows who did the work. That way, you know who to contact in the future should you have any questions. It won’t always be possible to get receipts. But it doesn’t hurt to ask.