Home Buying Prep: Your Due Diligence Checklist

When buying a home, it's essential to do your due diligence right up front because once the deal is put together, it can be difficult to renegotiate with the seller. Read on to form your checklist for buyer's due diligence on your new home.

1. Review Seller Disclosures

First, review all seller disclosures. This includes the seller's real property disclosure report, which you normally receive after you open escrow on your house. You can also ask your buyer agent to request a copy of this report upfront.

Reviewing this document ensures you’re comfortable and confident moving forward with the home. If your state doesn't require seller disclosures, compile a list of questions to ask the seller and request your buyer agent to get those answered.

2. Understand Your Local Disclosure Laws

Understanding your local disclosure laws is crucial. Different states have different requirements for what the seller must disclose, including material defects (what you can see) and latent defects (what you can't see).

Your buyer's agent can help you understand what disclosures you should receive and what remedies are possible through closing. Some states also require disclosure of a death on the property, while others do not. Be clear about your state's laws to avoid surprises later.

3. Scout the Property

Scout the property at different times of the day and week. Drive by in the morning, at lunch, in the evening, and on weekends. Observe the neighborhood and how the neighbors live to ensure it’s a place where you can see yourself living comfortably. Ideally, do this before scheduling a showing to save time and effort.

4. Get to Know Your Local Building Department

Your local building department can provide valuable insights into any future developments or zoning changes in the area. This information can help you understand how these changes might affect your property value. Ask for the city plan and any developments going on around the area. This knowledge is crucial for making an informed decision about your investment.

5. Research Zoning Around Your New Home

Research the zoning laws around your new home. If you’re buying land or a property next to a natural preserve, you need to know if the area can be developed or or if it's protected. Zoning changes can impact your property value. Your real estate adviser can help you find this information or guide you to the appropriate resources.

6. Meet the Neighbors

Meeting the neighbors can provide candid insights into the neighborhood. They can tell you about the history of the home, the community vibe, and any potential issues. This can help you get a clear picture of the area and decide if it’s the right fit for you.

7. Research the Homeowners Association (HOA) if Applicable

If you’re buying in an HOA community, review the HOA's CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) and financial statements. Ask about any planned developments or assessments. This information will help you understand the HOA’s management and any potential future costs.

8. Get a Jump Start on Your Homeowner Insurance

Start researching homeowners insurance policies early. Understanding the different types of coverage and what’s right for you can save you time and stress later. An insurance agent can help you navigate the options and find the best policy for your needs.

9. Check the Sex Offender Registry

Check the sex offender registry to ensure there are no registered offenders in the neighborhood. This information is publicly available and can provide peace of mind about the safety of your new home.

10. Check the Crime Stats

Check the crime statistics for the area. Your real estate adviser can provide hyperlocal crime stat websites. Reviewing this data will help you understand the neighborhood's crime levels and make a well-informed real estate decision.

11. Google, Google, GOOGLE Everything

Google the address of the home. This can reveal any hidden issues such as a history of being a meth house or other stigmatized property concerns. Some states require disclosing certain issues and others do not.  So a quick online search can provide additional peace of mind.

12. Test the Parking Space

Test the parking space to ensure your vehicles fit comfortably. Measure the height and depth of the garage or driveway. This might seem minor, but it’s important for your daily convenience and can prevent future headaches.

13. Look for Possible Encroachments & Easements

Check for encroachments and easements on the property. Encroachments can include a neighbor's fence or shed on your property. Easements might allow others access to part of your property. Understanding these issues upfront can help you avoid disputes later.

This might seem like a lot of homework as if you’re back at university. But let’s get real: this is one of the biggest assets many of us will ever have. Shouldn't we do our due diligence? Isn’t it worth adding these things to your checklist? Only you can decide that, and now you know more about some things you should consider as you prepare to buy your home. 

For more insights and tips, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel.

Please contact me if you plan to buy or sell a home in the Las Vegas, Nevada region. 

Thank you for reading. Peace be with you. 

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