Does the Home You’re Buying Have a Notorious Past?
You want to learn as much as you can about your home before you buy, and you always ask the “right” questions. Were there any recent improvements? What major repairs were done in the past few years? How’s the neighborhood? These are the expected questions.
What about the less common questions? While it might not seem obvious to ask, you should take the time to learn as much about your home’s past before your closing date. Recently, the New York Post shared the story of a family who purchased their dream home outside of Manhattan only to discover it was actually a past gang crime scene.
Believe it or not, it isn’t always required for real estate agents to disclose these gritty details about a property. It’s often up to the buyer to do some digging to discover the notorious past of their home. Here’s why you should look into the past of the next home you buy.
Why Be Concerned About the Past
You might be wondering why it matters in the first place. If the past is in the past, why does it matter what happened in the home before it went on the market? It’s common sense to think that the house itself is benign. The previous owners or tenants moved on, and so did the crime, right? Well, that’s not always the case.
First, if the home used to be filled with illegal activity, it could be unsafe to reside there even now. A Tulsa, Oklahoma couple moved into an apartment a few years ago only to grow increasingly ill. They soon discovered a meth lab was under the apartment left over from previous tenants. They had no idea when they chose to live there.
This is just one way criminal activity can impact your safety. While it’s less likely that there’s a meth lab anywhere on the property that’s gone unnoticed, it is possible that criminal activity will continue at the location. If your place used to house drug dealers, for instance, it’s normal to find people loitering around the property or knocking on your door looking for someone.
You don’t want your personal privacy or safety to be compromised by the past owners. Unfortunately, many real estate agents or past owners keep this information to themselves hoping that it simply won’t cause a problem once new owners take over. This is unsafe, and that why you need to take matters into your own hands.
How to Research Your Home’s Past
Before making a home purchase, it’s smart to do a bit of digging yourself. As mentioned above, it’s not always the case that the past owner will be upfront about the property’s criminal past. Some states require full disclosure but others don’t. The best place to begin your investigation is with a simple search online. Searching the exact address will pull up any police reports from the property.
While you’re searching, don’t be afraid to look up the neighbors as well. You don’t want to position yourself anywhere near risky activity. Look for red flags like past break-ins, drug crimes, or sex offenders. Crime Reports is another great resource for seeing the status of your neighborhood.
Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. There might be a reason your prospective home is listed so cheaply for the area. It could be a sign something unfortunate took place recently. Either way, it’s smart to second-guess yourself with some online searching. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the previous owner or current neighbors directly about crime in the area.
Know the Home You’re Buying
It’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about your new home before you make the final purchase. The last thing you want is to end up in a nightmarish situation where you’ve discovered your home was the scene of a crime. While you likely won’t find yourself with a Hollywood-style haunted house, that doesn’t mean you want crime finding you.
It will be up for you to decide if the home is worth the risk. The reality is that if a crime happened recently, it’s not unlikely to happen again. Consider whether your safety and privacy are worth a good deal. At the end of the day, do your research. You deserve to know your home’s past.