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5 RISKS: Agents Invaluable at Uncovering Value

Written by on Monday, 07 July 2014 12:20 pm
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Real estate buyers are often so dazzled by showings, deluged by online data, and distracted by searching out "must haves" in each property viewed that they may overlook real estate value determinants which are often invisible to the human eye.

Luckily, for buyers who've selected an experienced, savvy real estate professional to help them through the real estate buying gauntlet, these professionals understand that taking RISKS out of the buying equation represents their primary value to home, recreational, and commercial buyers.

What you don't know and what you don't understand can cost you a lot in real estate—money, time, dreams, stress, frustration, and maybe a law suit or two. To be sure you don't end up with any unpleasant surprises after you move in, help your real estate professional do their best for you by ask about the 5 invisible, relevant RISKS to the joy of property ownership, once you find a property you like and before you sign on the dotted line:

RIGHTS of OWNERSHIP

"I've got rights" is a common exclamation, but when it comes to owning real estate do you understand what rights you have and do not have? Rights of owning a property include the right to enter, use, do nothing with, sell, lease, and give it away, subject to the municipal, state, and federal law. This is not a simple topic, but relative to your specific needs and proposed uses for the property, and to a specific property, your real estate professional can explain relevant details and lay out alternatives.

  • For instance, if you purchase a property with a mutual or shared drive, your access and use will be subject to deeded rights given your neighbor and municipal enforcement or the lack of it. Later renovations may be restricted. To ensure your property carries the greatest potential for increased value relative to the right to enter, choose a private drive that is on your property without easements or deeded obstructions. These details should be included in the listing, but with today's emphasis on interior decor, they may be overlooked or underplayed.
  • For example, you may see the huge backyard and think "swimming pool," but, a few years later when you're ready to build, utility easements and/or rights of pipeline owners and government agencies may veto your plans to add a pool. Verbalize any intended future use for the property, so your professional can let you know about obstructions to your plans before you buy.

INSURANCE COVERAGE

Insurance companies decide what they will and will not insure, which can leave property owners hanging because the value of an un-insurable property is compromised. Since you won't worry about insurance until after you buy, insurability issues like aluminum wiring, insulbrick siding, flood planes, and non-permit renovations, many of which may stay hidden until you're already committed to the property, are issues to be aware of. On the other hand, real estate professionals know what area insurers won't and will insure, without penalizing the owner. Knowing the cost of insurance is important to projecting monthly affordability, so raise insurance issues early without hesitation.

SUN EXPOSURE

We take the sun for granted until something like a neighor's two-storey addition, or an adjacent 20-storey condominium build, comes between us and the sunlight. You can figure out sun exposure relative to the side of the street the property is on, but the real estate professional is the one who knows, or can find out, exactly what is going on with properties around your chosen real estate. Tree cover plays a part here. In many municipalities, you can't chop down trees just because you want to. Mature trees should be investigated because they can cost thousands to prune or cut down. Trees on municipal easements or property may give you the benefits without the expense of maintenance. Again, real estate professionals are go-to sources here.

KNOWLEDGE OF THE AREA

A few seasons after you move in, you'll know exactly what you like and don't like about the property and the neighborhood. The real estate professional is there to make this as clear as possible to you before your buy. What are the environmental issues of concern to the neighborhood? Fracking, rail transport of dangerous chemicals, pipelines, air traffic pathways, flooding, and water quality are problems in many areas. Safety can be a related issue in some cases. Know what you are getting into. Forewarned is forearmed. You may still go ahead with the purchase, but you'll be in a better state of mind for negotiations.

SECURITY OF INVESTMENT

Location is one of the most significant value criterion, especially since you can't move real estate. However, what comes into a location and what leaves it means that the value attributed to a particular location is not static, but increases or drops over time. Some change can be predicable. Area values may drop with plant closings, addition of new big-box malls, new high-rise buildings, and large townhouse projects. Development policies that limit change to an already-valued neighborhood or pro-active flood-plan projects that eliminate flooding can protect value. Ask your real estate professional for a clear picture of the value trend is in the area you're shopping, and do your own investigation to see what local residents are happy and unhappy about. We have gotten used to real estate values rising over time, but that is not a blanket truth for every location, nor will it ever be.

Yes, get excited about the property that looks like the perfect fit for you and your plans. Just make sure you take a good look at what could go wrong before you buy.

Buyer's remorse is not typical, but it does typically arise out of lack of information, lack of attention to detail, acting on guesses instead of facts, and adopting wishful thinking instead of forward thinking.

TIP: Use the first letter of each of the 5 factors—R-I-S-K-S—as a memory tool to help you keep these Five Invisible, Relevant RISKS to the joy of property ownership top of mind so they can be eliminated from your buying equation.
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  About the author, PJ Wade

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