9 Important Steps to Perform Your Due Diligence in Real Estate

When you are buying a home, particularly for the first time, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t making a mistake. The home buying process can be complex. Due diligence in real estate can help you reduce the risks when buying a home and shouldn’t be overlooked.

While you could always go back to the seller after you’ve purchased, no one wants to fight an expensive legal battle. If you properly perform your due diligence, you should avoid most of the potential problems. And by performing your due diligence, you will have full material knowledge of the condition of the home. If the home is a fixer-upper, you will be aware of the items that need to be addressed with the home,

We look at the due diligence you need to do to make sure you pick up property problems before they become an issue.

What is Due Diligence?

Carrying out due diligence involves a deep investigation of the home, both the physical condition of the property and the financial situation. The time frame that a buyer uses to perform their due diligence is the contingency period.  And there will be contingencies with the purchase agreement that a buyer will need to perform prior to removing them and proceeding with the purchase. The area the home is located is another factor that you will need to check as well.

The Due Diligence Perioddue diligence

During the home buying process, you will typically get between 7 and 14 days for due diligence. The exact amount of time will depend on the state you are based in and the common practice there.

This period allows you to investigate the history of the home. It is your opportunity to uncover any defects that could lead you to rethink your purchasing decision.

Since you only have a short period where you can carry out your due diligence, the help of an experienced buyer’s agent can assist you here. They will understand what is required and can help you make sure you don’t miss something in your research.

Mortgage and Appraisal Contingency

When purchasing a home and planning on getting a loan, there will also be a mortgage contingency and an appraisal contingency. An appraisal is a contingency of purchase for the buyer if they are obtaining a loan. If the buyer is paying cash, they may still want to have an appraisal to ensure the value of the home comes in at the purchase price. There are many factors that an appraiser will consider when performing an appraisal.

A loan or mortgage contingency is present in the purchase agreement to ensure the buyer is able to obtain the loan. The buyer may have many mortgage questions to ask of their lender. Some of those questions may include information about private mortgage insurance, how long it takes to obtain a mortgage, appraisal information, and more.

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Home Inspections are Part of Your Due Diligence

A common contingency in a purchase contract is a home inspection. The home inspection is very important and will help you avoid buying a home with serious structural defects and other problems that you’ll want to avoid.

While you might consider the home inspection a buying expense you can miss out on, doing so could end up costing you more in the long run.

due diligenceMake Sure You Know About Disclosure Laws

Disclosure laws can vary between states, so you need to understand what the seller is required to reveal to buyers in your area. Often the seller will be legally required to disclose any home defects they know exist, but this isn’t always the case.

In some states, there isn’t any requirement for the seller to reveal known problems, and it is left up to the buyer to uncover issues. Even if this is the case, the seller might not be allowed to hide issues when asked by buyers.

So if you notice something in the home that could have been caused by a leaky roof, asking the seller should give you a truthful answer.

Search Online for the Address

A quick Google search could reveal a lot of interesting information about the property. Look out for anything negative or unusual, as well as anything that could potentially affect the home in the future.

Speak to the Neighbors

Owners of neighboring properties could have a lot of information that would be interesting to know. You could learn some information you wouldn’t otherwise have discovered, as well as the things about the neighborhood that could be crucial to your decision. This is an important fact when you are searching for the best neighborhood to purchase a home in.

Check the Building Permitsdue diligence

All too often, homeowners don’t get the right permits for renovations on their homes. To make sure this isn’t an issue for the home you are looking to buy, check with the city building department. This is exceptionally important if you are buying new construction.

Frequently you will be able to get a permit that covers the renovation later on, but it isn’t always the case.

Check the Zoning

It is good to know about the zoning in the neighborhood so you know what nearby properties can be used for. This will show you if there are commercial properties close by or proposals to change zoning.

You should also find out if the house is in a flood zone. If it is, you’ll have to pay for expensive flood insurance. This isn’t covered by normal homeowners insurance and can be required by the lender before they will approve a mortgage for you.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the most important things to check during due diligence when buying a new home. Your buyer’s agent will be able to advise you on the research required if you are unsure. Once you have completed your due diligence and are satisfied with the condition of the home, you can then remove the contingencies.

Buying a home is likely to be the biggest purchase you ever make, so you need to check enough to ensure you don’t regret your choice.

About the Author

Top Newport Beach Realtor Sharon Paxson has written the real estate article “9 Important Steps to Perform Your Due Diligence in Real Estate”. With experience since 2005 representing sellers, buyers, and landlords with their real estate transactions, we welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise and guide you through the home buying or selling process.

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Sharon Paxson is a full-time REALTOR® with EQTY | Forbes Global Properties and has been specializing in residential real estate throughout the Newport Beach area since 2005 assisting Buyer’s, Seller’s, Landlords, and Tenants with their real estate needs.

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