Buyers - Be diligent in knowing THE REST OF THE STORY

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Safe Haven Realty | 707-332-2560 | Serving all of Sonoma County, CA CalBRE# 01433049

PAUL HARVEY was a radio personality who was one of the best storytellers of all time. From 1976 until his death in 2009, Paul told a series of stories described as part mystery and part history. And each time he would end his broadcast with his famous line "and now you know ... (pause) ... the REST OF THE STORY".

When buying a house, your real estate agent will be able to tell you at least some of the story. They can tell you facts about the neighborhood that might include nearby schools, parks, grocery stores and public transportation.

The seller will be able to tell you some more of the story. Sellers, under most circumstances, are required to disclose everything they know about the house. The disclosure forms have yes/no questions such as ... Are You (Seller) Aware of any alterations or modifications on the Property?

While the disclosure forms might help jog a sellers memory, there is usually more information that can be acquired that could influence your decision in buying a house.

1) Talk to the neighbors. Ask them about noise. Ask them about community events. Ask them how long they have lived in the neighborhood and what they like the best about it. Ask them what they like the least about it.

2) Spend as much time as possible in the neighborhood at different hours of the day and night, weekdays and weekends. Maybe you were shown the house at 2:00PM on Sunday afternoon while everyone was inside watching sports. But what is the neighborhood like on Saturday evening? How about when everyone is coming home from work? Are there barking dogs, garage bands or planes flying low for a landing?

3) If you are buying an old home and it appears there have been some alterations, visit the City and County planning departments and ask about permits. Is that 4 bedroom house on record as a 3 bedroom? Was that patio always enclosed? Is there a permit on file?

When buying a house, don't just settle for some of the story. Do your due diligence so that you know ... (pause) ... the REST OF THE STORY.

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Rainmaker
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Peggy Hughes
PHA/Peggy Hughes Associates - Professional Moving Organizer - San Francisco, CA
SF NYC LA

excellent post with great information for home buyers!

Nov 22, 2010 01:27 AM #2
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Michael Thornton
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspector - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.0297

Good morning Cynthia. Good suggestions, and yes, Paul Harvey was one of the great communicators that will sorely be missed...

Nov 22, 2010 05:17 AM #3
Rainer
114,289
Cinnamon Wright
Wilmington Real Estate 4U 910.547.1446 - Wrightsville Beach, NC
Assistant to Tish Lloyd

Loved Paul Harvey's show! 

Great tips for home buyers -- especially suggesting they visit the neighborhood at different times and days. 

Nov 22, 2010 06:03 AM #4
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Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.265.3004 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Ssssssynthia, So true!  We're generally looking at houses on the weekend.  One of the things we recommend...make the drive to the house during your normal daily commute time, find out if you're subject to massive jams or smooth sailing.  And talking to the neighbors is very useful too!

Nov 22, 2010 06:31 AM #5
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Charita Cadenhead
Keller Williams Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

In short Ssssssynthia:  Buyers should seek and they will find.

Nov 22, 2010 07:46 AM #6
Rainmaker
575,215
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Cynthia:  No kidding about talking to the neighbours.  They know lots of things about the house and the neighbourhood and even the Sellers.  It pays to hang around outside a bit and see who comes and goes and maybe approach the neighbours.  They have a vested interest in getting a good new neighbour and are often more than willing to talk. 

Nov 22, 2010 09:37 AM #7
Rainmaker
542,887
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty | 707-332-2560 | Serving all of Sonoma County, CA - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker/Owner

Susan - thanks ... Paul is surely missed.

Peggy - the neighbors are always a great source of information. They are the first to knock on your door the day after you move in and say ... HEY, did you know blah blah blah.

Michael - you have the perfect profile photo for this blog!!

CA - I didn't think you were old enough to know who Paul Harvey is!

BLiz - yep, in the morning when you are going to work and at night when you are getting home.

BDAMB from Bham - you and BLiz spell my name with exactly 6 s's ... now if that isn't a conspiracy I don't know what is!

Valerie - the neighbor will tell you EVERYTHING. Better to know before you move in rather than after!

Nov 22, 2010 10:09 AM #8
Rainmaker
241,407
David Ames
Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco - San Francisco, CA
San Francisco

Talking to the neighbors is an interesting point here, Cynthia.  It reminds me of a conversation I always have with my sellers when it comes time to fill out the TDS.  Basically, I remind them that anything they don't disclose (but should) will most likely be shared with the new owner by one of the neighbors after COE.  That usually kicks the truth into gear, and fast!

Nov 22, 2010 06:47 PM #9
Rainmaker
542,887
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty | 707-332-2560 | Serving all of Sonoma County, CA - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker/Owner

David - I sold a home in Petaluma a few years back. The day my buyers moved in, the neighbor came over to tell them the previous owner died in the house. Great.

Nov 22, 2010 07:12 PM #10
Rainmaker
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David Ames
Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco - San Francisco, CA
San Francisco

OMG...now THAT'S a big disclosure...Oops!  Hopefully your buyer was able to deal with it.  I can imagine the conversation you had with the listing agent about the 3 year rule.

Nov 22, 2010 08:00 PM #11
Rainmaker
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Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty | 707-332-2560 | Serving all of Sonoma County, CA - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker/Owner

David - I did a lot of research about that 3 year rule after I spoke to the listing agent. She stated that a death within 3 years does not need to be disclosed unless it is a "material fact". I found out she was right, but determining whether something is a "material fact" that would influence someone to not buy a property is subjective, isn't it? Regardless, I will never have a buyer purchase a property without a SPQ filled out by the seller. My buyer was able to deal with it because she is a doctor ... thankfully!

Nov 22, 2010 08:48 PM #12
Rainmaker
169,107
Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale
Wende Schoof - Menlo Park, CA
WendeByTheBay.com - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula

Cynthia, these are good tips for buyer due dilligence.  Paul Harvey is another icon whom I miss, too.

Nov 23, 2010 11:52 AM #13
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Karen Crowson
Alain Pinel Realtors, Pleasanton, CA - Livermore, CA
Livermore Wine Country Homes

You bet.  Uck - do I wish my current sellers had had this advice.  I'm not even sure how to go about fixing the mess they're potentially in!

Nov 23, 2010 01:48 PM #14
Rainer
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Phil & Celeste Pafford
PaffordHomes.com, Corona CA - Corona, CA
Corona Short Sale Broker

Ahhh, good 'ol Paul, takes ya back to what we remember to be a simpler time... Good tip on the neighbors.  By talking to them, you may discover that the neighbor you talk to, "is" the problem! ;-)

Nov 23, 2010 01:55 PM #15
Rainmaker
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Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty | 707-332-2560 | Serving all of Sonoma County, CA - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker/Owner

Wende - I've had buyers that are disappointed with the seller for not disclosing "noises" that the seller had become accustomed to. One persons tolerance for noise could be another persons nightmare.

Karen - ooh ... that doesn't sound good!

#15 - yes, Paul takes us back to the days of radio, a much simpler time. And you are spot on about the neighbor you talk to! One time I observed about 10 visitors come and go from a house two doors down from the one I was showing. Someone would drive up, go inside for a few minutes, then leave. Then another and another ... Hmmmmmm.

 

Nov 23, 2010 02:10 PM #16
Rainer
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Eric Lee
Realty Executives - Phoenix, AZ
e-PRO, SFR - Phoenix, AZ

Great post! #1 & #2 are things I have been stressing to buyers for years now and I would estimate less than half of my buyers knock on more than 1 neighbor's door before they buy. In AZ the standard inspection period is 10 days which means you get 10 days to decide everything you need to know about where you are going to live for the next 5-20 years. Spend every hour possible there, knock on doors, ask questions.

Nov 23, 2010 05:24 PM #17
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Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Cynthia I like the looking at the neighborhood at different times during the day. Sometimes rush hour traffic noise past a neighborhood or traffic congestion can make it not so appealing. Great detective work on your part.

Nov 23, 2010 06:13 PM #18
Rainmaker
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Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty | 707-332-2560 | Serving all of Sonoma County, CA - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker/Owner

Eric - thanks! #3 has become very important here ... the municipalities have been using un-permitted work as a revenue source in these hard economic times.

Dorah - I'm spoken for, sorry.

Gary - yes, commute time is crucial.

Nov 23, 2010 06:17 PM #19
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Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 800-610-7253 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I think it's really important to visit a neighborhood on different days and at different times.

Nov 23, 2010 11:38 PM #20
Rainmaker
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Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty | 707-332-2560 | Serving all of Sonoma County, CA - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker/Owner

Christine - there are neighborhoods here that look completely normal on the weekend. On the weekday, there are tons of cars parked in front of every house because the college kids can't afford the on-campus parking. I don't know about you, but I don't care to have cars parked in front of my house all day long ... especially if I want to park there.

Nov 24, 2010 09:59 AM #21
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Rainmaker
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Cynthia Larsen

Independent Broker/Owner
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