Searching through residential real estate listings can leave many folks wondering how to narrow down the list of available options. It can be helpful to develop a process for assessing residential real estate. Here are a few pointers that will help you develop that process.
Establish Your Priorities
The first thing you need to do is to determine what your priorities are. Do you want access to public transit or proximity to a usable freeway? If you have children, what are your targets for the types of available schools in the area? Do you want to live in an up-and-coming neighborhood or one that's fairly low key?
Identify the Resources Available to You
While it's tempting to just Google everything, that's not a 100% perfect solution. There are many resources available at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels to help you make decisions about residential real estate listings.
For example, the county register can give you details about the history of a property, including how it has been subdivided, what rights are attached to the property, and even what variances have been granted. All changes to the location go into the county register so you can rest assured this is an accurate record. Be aware, though, that some counties charge fees for detailed searches.
Another interesting set of resources are the local and county historical registers. These may be available for free online. They'll likely include less information than the county register, but at least they'll be free. Also, some entries may come with fun stories about the property.
Talk With a Local Real Estate Agent
Especially if you don't live close to the area where you're looking to move, you may want to reach out to a local real estate office. Let them know which properties interest you and what your priorities are. Many use the multiple-listing system, and that means they can even take a look at real estate listings that were posted to the MLS by agents from competing offices.
Contact a Home Inspector
Before you tour a specific house, you may want to ask a home inspector to let you know what basic things you should be looking for. This will help you quickly eliminate places that just aren't going to cut it. When you want to get serious about a specific house, you can then contact the inspector again to schedule an appointment. They'll supply a detailed report explaining the issues the building has.