This past weekend my honey and I ventured up into the mountains for a little backcountry skiing. The day was amazing and we found a secret little stash of powder that made for some great turns and we even created some "powder 8's" like the cool kids back in the 80s!
If you've enjoyed any such adventures, regardless of the season, you know they take preparation. Whether adventuring in the White Mountains at 4,000 feet or in the Rockies at 12,000 feet, being prepared is critical to both your enjoyment and your survival. We have all read countless stories of the half-wits that head up Mount Washington in jeans and sneakers and then wonder why they got hurt, lost, cold or worse.
I think the Boy Scouts were on to something with their "Be Prepared!" motto (I think the exclamation point is part of the motto — so cool), One of the primary things I do before hitting the trail is I ask a ton of questions or rather I gather a ton of information.
I'm checking the weather at the elevation at which I plan to achieve. It doesn't matter if it is 50s and sunny in North Conway or Gorahm, what is the weather atop the mountain with the worlds (second) worst weather? What are the trail conditions? Is there weather moving in? What do I need for gear? Do I have the right gear? What do I need for food? The list goes on.
I say all that to also say that when it's time to buy a house, it's equally important to be prepared. It's important to gather all the information you possibly can about the whole shootin' match. That includes the house, the neighborhood, the mortgage, the market, etc. That list goes on and on as well.
Today we're going to focus on the questions you should be asking before you put in that offer. There are the inanely obvious questions like: Can I afford this house? But there are also more pertinent questions that many of us don't think of. Let's dig in.
What is the purchase history of this home? This question provides lots of information but I will caution you a bit to take the data with a proverbial grain of salt.
"Simply knowing that a home was "bank-owned" or that the listing had expired at some point in its history are not necessarily bad things," notes Badger Realty agent Don Lapointe. "As with nearly everything in life, the more information you have about the situation the better off you will be," he continued.
I love knowing the sales history of a home. It shows you (almost inevitably) a continued increase in value and it provides a bit of back story to how the market has treated this property. If nothing else, it's a great place to start.
What is the future of this property? This, of course, is a little more challenging to ascertain, but equally worth your time to explore. I know almost none of the details of this story, but I heard through the grapevine about a community's government that accepted the creation of a waste facility.
The homeowners were incensed that their properties were rendered nearly unsellable due to the proximity to the "dump" and the associated smells. You can never know all the future plans that any one of countless entities may have in store. But it is important to do your due diligence and learn about community upgrades and assessments, the general trend of the neighborhood's home prices, new construction going on (especially commercial) and anything else that may impact, not only your home's value but your families enjoyment of living there.
One lesson I learned a very long time ago is to ask for help or advice when I felt I needed it (which is often). As we all know, from the teenage years through our late 20s (typically) we have the silly sense that we have it all figured out and don't need help from anyone (Wasn't that an adorable time?). Once we get past that mark, our eyes are finally opened and we see that the vast majority of the world is older and more experienced than we are and knows far more than we do about almost everything.
When you are considering buying a home, seek out those folks who already have that experience and can help you get pointed in the right direction. Do you know of any good home inspectors? Is there a handyman that you would recommend? Who did you use as your real estate agent and why did you like them? Where do you get your car fixed?
Sure, the internet is a wealth of information (and very often misinformation), but I always (always) prefer to have a conversation with a human being to get my recommendations and advice. So much is lost in false reviews and curated five-star ratings. Put down your phone and pick up your phone (Ha!) and give someone a call. You'll be glad you did. They will be honored that you trust them with this huge decision. And you will make a new connection with both them and the person to whom they refer you.
Buying a home is a big deal and owning a home is equally significant. Before and during this process, my advice to you is ask a ton of questions. Gather all the information you can about the property, the process and the potential (I struggled for another "p" word there). You will be better informed and will feel so much more comfortable with the decision because you did your homework. Now go do some research and get up in the mountains! Just please don't wear cotton in the White's this winter! Happy adventuring!