Buying A Home? Useful Tips To Help You Learn More About Each Home You Are Considering

Posted on: 13 November 2017


According to data compiled by the National Association of Realtors®, the average home listing price in 2016 was a whopping $412,222.94. While this number is only an average figure and not relevant to the myriad of real estate market areas across the nation that may reflect much different numbers, it is a very real reminder that buying a home is a large investment that should be taken very seriously. So it stands to reason that buyers should use every avenue available to find out as much about any home they are considering before moving forward with a purchase offer. 

Start with seller disclosures and listing information

Prospective buyers who take the time to carefully study each home's listing information and any available disclosure documents provided by the buyer can learn many things about each home they are considering. When doing this, make sure that you pay particular attention to any details that offer clues to the actual condition and repair history of the home, including: 

  • Dates and types of repairs and renovations
  • Ages of major systems and appliances
  • Mentions of fire, flood, or other serious damage

In addition to helping you better understand the home's history, this type of information can also be helpful when searching for additional information from other sources, like those available through public records. 

Search out more details through land and zoning records

Many buyers are not aware of the wealth of information that public land and zoning records can provide for most homes. To begin, contact your local recorder of deeds where you will be able to obtain copies of: 

  • Property deeds, including deeds of trust, quit claim deeds, and general warranty deeds
  • Plats and surveys
  • Information on subdivision covenants and restrictions
  • Records of legal actions involving the home, such as those relating to a foreclosure 

Since most county property records are filed by date for each address, using any dates noted in the disclosure documents can help you better focus your search. While a recorder of deeds will be able to provide copies of any records they have, for a nominal printing fee, they are not attorneys and will not be able to offer advice or opinions about any property you are seeking information on.

Once you have obtained all relevant records from your county recorder of deeds, the next place to look is at your local zoning office, if applicable. These offices typically keep records of building permit applications, actual permits issued, any inspections related to the permits, and zoning information, as well as any nuisance or non-compliance violations that may have been issued.