No. of Recommendations: 16
Hi Fools,
I borrowed this for the boards from one of my competitor's free email newsletters. In fairness, her name is Diane St. James, and the author of this piece is B.C. Marcus. I enjoyed it, and thought you would too! It covers a lot of stuff we've done on these boards, but it's always good to read the great stuff again...

Things All Home Buyers Should Do, But Most Don't
by : B.C. Marcus

1. Ride the Neighborhood in the Early Evening: By doing this you
you will see the people who live in the area and how they live. You
will see the condition of the cars, and if any conditions exist
(loitering, loud music, etc...) which you may find objectionable.

2. Get a Home Inspection: Many home purchasers bypass this
step because it will cost them a couple hundred dollars. However,
a couple hundred dollars up front will let you know exactly what
you are buying and reveal any problems you might not have
noticed on your walk-through. Real Estate Appraisers are
not Home Inspectors. Appraisers make only a casual inspection
of the property and are not trained to identify any problems other
than the obvious. Do not rely on relatives who are contractors.
If they are wrong, they probably won't have Errors and Omissions
Insurance for you to file against. Get a professional Home Inspector.

3. Visit the Local Police Department: Police Departments know
the crime in an area better than anyone. Many will even print
you a report of the crime history of a neighborhood. Once you
buy a house, you are stuck with the neighborhood whether you
like it or not. While you are at the Police Department, if you
have kids, ask for a crime report on the school your child
will be attending.

4. Check the Sexual Offender Register: Do you want to live
next do to a child molester or rapist? Few of us do. The local
Sheriff's Department will have a list of all sexual offenders
living in the area.

5. Check with the Local Road Department: Do you want to
move into a house and later find out there are plans to run a
freeway through you living room the next year, or there are
changes planned that will turn your nice quiet cul-de-sac
into a thoroughfare?

6. Check with the Local Zoning Board: The woods next
door may be beautiful, but they may not appear so beautiful
when you find out the land is zoned for a strip club, saw mill,
convenience store, or apartments. Most cities and counties
keep a wall map you can look at and tell in a few minutes if
there are any allowed land uses you would find objectionable.

7. Obtain a Utility Cost History for the House: Most utility
companies will print out a history of the utility costs for the
property. High utility costs can be the result of an underground
water leak, a malfunctioning furnace or air conditioner unit,
or lack of proper insulation, among many other causes.
None of these are cheap to fix.

8. Talk to the Neighbors Before You Sign the Contract: Often,
neighbors will know more about the house than anyone
besides the previous owner. They will also know about the
neighborhood. Tell them you are interested in purchasing
the house, and find out what they know.

9. Research the Former Uses of the Land and the Adjoining
Land: Was there an old gas station down the road at one
time? Was there a factory nearby years ago? Was there
a town dump around the corner back in the 1930's? All of
this is important. Soil and water contamination from a
property a mile away can affect your health and the resale
value of your property. The Environmental Protection Agency
publishes a list of hazardous sites. You may be surprised
at how many are located in your area.

10. Add to the contract that the Seller will furnish to you
for your review all plans, specifications, surveys, warranties,
appraisals, or other information he has in his possession
regarding the property within a specified number of days
of signing the contract. Additionally, the contract should
state that, upon purchasing the house, these documents
become your property.

There are all kinds of hidden problems you may not find
about until it is too late, unless, of course, you do your
homework. The key is information. You cannot have too
much. Question anyone who might be familiar with the
area or the property. Real estate agents often know very
little about the house or the neighborhood. Sellers will
usually keep their mouths shut and reveal no more than
what they legally are required to reveal. It is up to you to
do your homework.

(C) 2001, B.C. Marcus - Atlanta, Ga.

About the author:

B.C. Marcus' experiences include real estate investing,
developing and sales, as well as ownership interests and
management responsibilities in a number of small
businesses in a number of industries including self-storage,
hospitality, advertising & marketing, insurance, network
marketing, specialty contracting, light manufacturing,
web marketing, and retail, among others.
Mr. Marcus also served seven years as an elected official.
He has written several books including "Rental Secrets
for Tenants - Georgia Version," and "Simple Secrets of
Buying Rental Properties". A list of books by B.C. Marcus,
as well as a list of his articles is available at:
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