Most of us use Google or another search engine every single day. Those who are house hunting use the internet constantly to keep up with recent home listings and pricing changes. If you are searching for a home in the Upper Valley or the greater Burlington area, it’s time to start using Google to learn more about the property you’re interested in.
1. Google the address – Your first step should be to google the address. You can plug your address into Google Maps and use the Street View to explore the neighborhood or use Google Earth to get a visual of the land surrounding the home and the proximity of neighbors. This is especially helpful if you are unable to drive by the property easily but even if you have driven by there are still things you may be able to notice that you didn’t see during the drive by.
2. Investigate the Homeowners Association – If the home you are considering buying is part of an association you should take the opportunity to research the HOA before you make an offer. Many HOA’s have online reviews of logged complaints that may be of interest before you buy.
3. Home History – The real estate listing may give you some of the sales history of the home but there is further research you can do. By Googling the home you should be able to determine if the previous owners intended to flip the home or if they lived there for 20 years. If the home was a flip and the sellers are claiming a number of improvements, there may even be photos from before the last sale. You may even take it a step farther and Google the names of the sellers. If they have done other home flips, any issues or complaints could show up.
4. Evaluate potential growth – Depending on where the home you are interested is, you may want to do a little research on the towns growth plans for the area. If you are near a main road this would be especially important. You can Google the city’s planning department to see what kind of projects are lined up or look for any recent permits pulled for nearby streets or intersections. The more you know before you put an offer in on a home, the better you’ll feel.
5. Detect health and safety concerns – When you are house shopping you can get all kinds of information before you make a decision. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration maintains a list of properties that have at one time been identified as drug labs. This could be especially helpful if the property you are interested was a rental and you don’t have access to tenant information. Additionally you can check the sex offender registry to determine if there is concern in the neighborhood you are considering.
You probably Google everything from current events to the best price on a purchase you are planning to make. You should use the same tools to learn everything you can about a home you are considering making an offer on. The more you know in advance the less chance there is that you will ever regret your purchase or be blindsided by a development you were not expecting in the first year or two of owning the property.