You have found the perfect house, you want to make an offer, you have seen it in the early afternoon for about 20-30 minutes. Do you write an offer or do you do a “drive by”?
I encourage ALL of my buyers to drive by the property they want to purchase at different times of the day/night prior to writing a purchase and sale agreement. Our Form 35 – Inspection Addendum does have a section titled Neighborhood Review Contingency that gives the buyer the opportunity to review all areas of the neighborhood during an agreed upon time frame which is usually 3 days from mutual acceptance. Of course you can use this to preform your due diligence on the neighborhood, but from my experience by the time you have written an offer, went through any kind of counter-offer phase and have come to terms with a mutually accepted contract you just are not that motivated to preform a neighborhood review. This is why I counsel to review the neighborhood prior to submitting an offer.
Drive by during the day. Are there basketball hoops in the cul-de-sac? If the neighborhood is not in a HOA (Home Owners Association) the only fall back you have is the City of County the neighborhoods is located in. Is it garbage day? If not, do you see cans left out on the street?
Drive by at night, see what type of street lighting there is. See what neighbors have what lights on. Is there a neighbor with a security light that is right next to a window where you won’t want light at night? How are all the cars parked? Do people have to use their driveways? (Some HOA’s demand this) If not, do people use them? Are drive ways empty and cars parked out on the street?
Drive by during the morning commute time and see if the neighborhood is used as a “cut through” for commuters. Are the stop signs sufficient? Are people driving too fast? Will kids have to walk to school or are they bused?
Is there a vacant lot next to or in back of the home? What can become of this lot. Will there be 1 home or will the city/county allow for the lot to be subdivided into two or more? Will the homes built there face towards one street or maybe the other street so their backyards back up to your side yard? If you want to purchase a classic charmer will a vacant lot and new construction ruin what your idea is of the neighborhood? Builders will build anything anywhere as long as they can get a permit and cities/counties want that permit money! Never assume anything.
Remember that neighborhoods are always changing and your new neighborhood will but at least if you are careful and do your homework the changes won’t effect your quality of life or the joy of your new home.