You wouldn’t buy a used car without first understanding its history, so why would a home be any different?

Checking a home’s public records will go a long way in helping make sure that it is safe and does not harbor any unpleasant surprises such as a lien. Here is what you should check a home’s public records before you buy.

before buying a homeAvoid Unexpected Surprises

One of the biggest reasons you should check a home’s public records before you buy it—or even consider buying it—is to avoid any unexpected surprises during or after the buying process.

For example, a couple who jointly owned the home got divorced but one party did not file a quit claim deed, so they still have an interest in the property. Then when you go to purchase the home and perform a title search, you find that someone else has a claim on the property.

Then, you can decide what to do in terms of going through with the purchase.

Understand The Home’s Pricing History

Researching the home’s pricing history will go a long way in helping you understand the home’s value over the course of its lifetime. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How was the home priced in the past?
  • Did the value rise or drop?
  • How much is owed on the home in the case of a short sale?
  • How many times has the home been put on the market, withdrawn, and put back on the market?

Ask your realtor about the home’s value and pricing to get

Check For Any Renovations Or Repairs That Have Been Done

What modifications have been done to the home and when? Were there any unauthorized renovations, modifications, or additions? Before a homeowner can do renovations on their home they must obtain a building permit for the purpose of enforcing building codes. These permits should be included in the property disclosures.

If renovations were done without a permit it can create a dangerous situation such as leaking gas lines, fire hazards, and stability issues. You may even have to rebuild a whole part of the home, like the foundation.

Remember, you should always have the home inspected by a professional home inspector and walked through several times to ensure the home’s safety.

What Documents Should I Look For & Where Can I Get Them?

Public records you should search for include:

  • Tax liens
  • Warranty deeds
  • Property tax records
  • Foreclosures
  • Date the home was built
  • Past home prices

All of this information is often readily available in the home’s listing or in your area’s County Clerk’s office. You can search online in their database or call them directly.

Your realtor will be able to help you get information and documents you need to verify information about the home that will make the purchasing process as pain-free as possible.

Never feel embarrassed to ask questions! It is always better to be safe than sorry.

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