If you’ve read the blog for the past two weeks, you know that I’ve recently had safety on my mind. Originally, I’d planned this as a two-part series… one post from the perspective of Realtors and one from the perspective of home sellers and tips for how we can all keep ourselves safe while we do our jobs and sell our homes. However, during my research, I discovered that there is another population of people in “real estate land” that need to keep safety tips in mind, too: home BUYERS! We’ve all heard the term “buyer beware,” but when you’re looking for a new home there are some special considerations you should remember to protect yourself and your family.
First and foremost, it’s important to educate yourself about the overall safety of the neighborhoods in which you’re looking for homes. You might imagine that your Real Estate Agent can simply give you a “thumbs up” or down regarding certain areas, but actually, they cannot. Realtors are prohibited from “steering” potential buyers towards or away from certain homes, neighborhoods and communities, so it’s crucial that buyers educate themselves. You should drive by and around potential neighborhoods at various times of the day to get a better sense of the overall safety and environment. If possible, talk to current residents and ask safety questions. Consider using third party resources (like crimemapping.com) to check crime statistics in a certain location, community, neighborhood or even specific homes.
If you are interested in foreclosed or distressed properties, there are even more safety issues to consider. You should never (and your Realtor should never advise you to do so) enter a home that appears to have been inhabited by squatters. Even vacant homes should be approached with caution as they may have maintenance issues. You should watch your footing as you tour these homes, navigating away from loose floorboards, rotted decks and loose railings. Loose gutters or lighting fixtures also pose added danger. Additionally, you should be aware that animals might have made themselves at home in long-vacant properties. NEVER approach an animal that has been left in (or has made their home in) a home. Call the local humane society or shelter immediately.
Most home buyers won’t have to consider these issues, but even the “typical” buyer can be vulnerable as they search for their new home. A good Realtor will help guide you in making good – and safe – decisions for yourself and your entire family!