Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith - Century 21 North Shore / Cape Cod



Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 4/12/2018

House hunting can be time-consuming. With so many houses currently on the market and so little time to spend visiting homes, it’s important to narrow down your search as much as possible before attending a showing.

Fortunately, in today’s digital world, it’s possible to learn a great deal of important information right from your phone or computer.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you some advice on researching the homes you’re thinking about making an offer on. We’ll talk about researching the neighborhood, and--of course--the house itself.

Putting together all the stats on the home

Let’s start with, arguably, the most important thing to research: the house itself. When you want to learn about a home, the best place to look is usually the real estate listing. Since most of us discover homes through listings, odds are you’re already on this page. However, there’s a lot of information in a listing, so take the time to go through it and gleam whatever you can from the home’s description.

Next, Google the house address and click on listings from other real estate sites. Oftentimes, a house that has been sold before will have multiple listings across the internet with different data.

Once you’ve scoured the listings, head over to the county assessor’s website to look at records of the home’s ownership. This will tell you who bought and sold the home and when. There’s much you can learn from this data, especially if a home is being sold frequently. You can also use this information to contact previous owners to ask them questions about the home that the current owner might not know the answer to.

Snooping around the neighborhood

If the house is nearby, simply driving through the neighborhood can tell you a lot. You can visit the neighborhood during rush hour to see what the traffic is like, for example.

However, it isn’t always practical to take the time to visit a house that you aren’t sure you’re interested in. So, what’s the next best thing? Google Maps.

Visit the neighborhood on Google Maps to see what’s in the area. Are there a lot of closed businesses? That could be a sign of a neighborhood in decline. Check for nearby things like parks, grocery stores, and other amenities that could influence your buying decision.

Next, use Google’s “street view” feature and explore the neighborhood. You can see what kind of shape the other homes are in, and find out the condition of infrastructure like roads and sidewalks.

Note addresses of comparable homes in the neighborhood and look up their purchase prices. This will give you an idea of whether the home is being priced appropriately.

If you’re having trouble finding information on a home, such as sale records, try contacting the local assessor. They should be able to point you to a database that will help you in your search.





Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 10/12/2017

When you stop and think about all the potential pitfalls, the prospect of buying a house and moving into a new neighborhood can be quite nerve wracking! (It doesn't have to be, though.)

Since there are so many crucial factors to consider, you want to be sure you're not overlooking anything important.

A Real Estate Agent Can Help

What makes the process a lot less daunting is the fact that experienced Realtors and real estate agents are available to provide you with guidance, advice, and help.

The ideal real estate agent will be familiar with areas you're interested in, and will be able to provide insights into everything from nearby conveniences and municipal services to the character of neighborhoods you're considering and the quality of the local school district. If you try to do it on your own and gather all the relevant information you need to make an informed home buying decision, it can be overwhelming! By working with a knowledgeable buyers' agent, you're a lot more likely to find a home that is a near-perfect match for your wants, needs, and budget.

In addition to getting prequalified for a mortgage, one of the first steps to beginning a house hunting campaign is clarifying exactly what you're looking for. Creating both a "wish list" and a "must have list" will enable your real estate agent to make the best use of your time and effectively match you with houses you'll like.

Although everyone has a different perspective when it comes to house hunting, most people start making decisions, early on, about things like the house style they'd prefer, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they need, and the preferred size of the backyard. First-time home buyers may be unsure about their square-footage requirements, but after touring a few houses and spending time with their real estate agent, they usually gain a good grasp of how much space they would need to feel comfortable.

Other Factors To Weigh

If you have children now or are planning to start a family soon, then your priorities may include living in a good school district and being close to playgrounds and summer recreation programs. The ideal neighborhood would also include potential playmates for your children, low-to-moderate street traffic, and short commuting distances to work. A low crime rate, convenience to shopping areas, and off-street parking are other typical priorities.

While your agent will undoubtedly help you develop a list of requirements and preferences for your real estate search, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The layout and floor plan of your ideal home
  • The preferred size and style of the kitchen
  • The possible inclusion of a deck, patio, garage, and/or finished basement
  • The number and size of closets and storage space
  • Features like a fireplace, fences, and a backyard shed
Once you get to the stage of having a property inspector examine a house you're considering, you'll have the chance to be alerted about issues like wet basements, leaks, termite damage, radon hazards, insufficient insulation, and other potential red flags. Most problems are readily solved, though, and can sometimes result in seller concessions and a lower selling price. In all instances, an experienced real estate agent is a good person to have in your corner.