Figuring out how much the property is worth
You think you've found the right home. But is it really worth what the sellers are asking?
Before you give away your hard earned money, do some thorough research.
First, ask your agent to prepare a comparable market analysis (CMA). This is a compilation of sales prices of homes similar to yours in the neighborhood which have recently sold.
You'll also want to check out the school district, crime statistics, and whether property values have been generally rising or falling in the neighborhood. Visit city hall to learn about future development plans for your new neighborhood.
Next, consider location. Assess how close the home is the property to schools, your job, transportation, shopping, hospitals, community centers, the downtown core of a major city, cultural and utilitarian services, and the airport. All of these factors affect price, as does the square footage of the lot, the size and age of the house, the amenities it has, the condition it is in, and how anxious the owners are to sell.
Look beyond the basics and have the property inspected. Is it in a flood plane? (Again, you can check this at city hall.) Are there cracks in the foundation, a wet basement, environmental contaminants? Are major systems in working order? While you're not going to hire a professional home inspector to go through the property until you've agreed on a price, you should certainly look for major flaws.
Make sure the seller provides you with good title through a staked survey and title insurance.
If you're buying new construction, check out land prices. Ask the town's land planner about current zoning requirements and any proposals to develop nearby land. Visit the developer's unfinished and finished projects to check the quality of housing and ask neighbors if the developer delivered all that was promised and in a timely manner.
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