If you’re a home buyer who’s ready to jump into the housing market this spring, you’ve probably begun searching to see what’s on the market. You may have already met a real estate agent or two; and if you’ve haven’t yet talked with a mortgage lender for a prequalification, it’s probably high on your priority list. Exercise due diligence throughout the home buying process.
Before you know it, you’ve selected an agent, mortgage lender, and title attorney to assist you. Then you find yourself searching for homes. Guess what? You’re well into in the process of buying a home! But before you put the buying process on cruise control, how much trust should you put into the professionals helping you?
Exercise your due diligence when buying a home.
It’s not to say that real estate agents, loan officers, home inspectors, or anyone else assisting your home purchase are not qualified. But then again, some professionals are better than others. Buying a home is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll make during your life. The saying “trust but verify” should be your mantra throughout the home buying process to ensure you exercise due diligence.
Have you verified the credentials of those you’ve hired?
Believe it or not, there are some who are doing business without the authorization of the corresponding licensing agency. And yet, some reasons given for not having a license may sound innocuous, such as forgetting about a license renewal deadline; other reasons may not seem as innocent (for example, licensed professionals from neighboring jurisdictions, DC or VA, attempt to do business locally where they are not licensed).
Professional licensing is a regulatory safeguard that provides consumers a pool of professionals that meet or exceed a minimum professional competency. Agencies such as the Maryland Real Estate Commission; Maryland Home Improvement Commission; Maryland Commission of Real Estate Appraisers, Appraisal Management Companies, and Home Inspectors; Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation; and the Maryland Insurance Administration offers an internet portal to verify a licensee’s status, check for disciplinary actions, and also explains how to file a complaint.
Although the MLS strives for accuracy in home listings, there are inaccuracies. The MLS provides guidelines and standards for home listing data. However, exactness and truthfulness can vary because data input is performed by many agents and/or their staff. a disclaimer used by our local MLS prompts you to verify MLS listing information,
“Information is believed to be accurate, but should not be relied upon without verification. Accuracy of square footage, lot size, schools and other information is not guaranteed…”
Verify the schools are accurate.
You can verify schools by checking with the local school board. Our local school board has an online tool to check schools assigned to any county address. The tool is located here: Montgomery County Public Schools “School Assignment Tool” (gis.mcpsmd.org/SchoolAssignmentTool2/Index.xhtml).
Verify zoning, development and other information
You can verify zoning or development questions with your locality. Montgomery County allows you to check information online via Montgomery County Planning Department (montgomeryplanning.org).
Sure the deck is beautiful and the basement is fully finished. But how do you know that they were built to meet county code? Maybe the home seller went with the lowest priced contractor who cut corners and did not pull a permit. Or worse, the seller did it themself to save paying a licensed contractor. Make sure any improvements and recent repairs have had the proper permitting! The permitting process certifies that repairs/renovations comply with building and zoning codes. Permitting ensures that houses are safe, structurally sound, and meet health standards. Permits can be checked by contacting your locality. Montgomery County allows you to check most building permits online via Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (permittingservices.montgomerycountymd.gov) “eServices” data search portal.
Most home buyers are familiar with basics of the home buying process. However, “trust and verify” can help identify and reduce hidden and obscure risks. Exercising your due diligence can make your home buying experience increasingly trouble free and more enjoyable.
By Dan Krell
Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2015/01/16/trust-and-verify-home-buyer-due-diligence/
Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.