There are many times in business where you can spend hours trying to find the answer to a question or solution to a problem only to have it be right in front of you. There are many investors who will scour through the multiple listing service looking at comparable sales and listings for days hoping to find information on a property they are considering buying. While that may be helpful, you can get a much more accurate feel of a property by walking down the street or driving the neighborhood. Instead of looking at numbers, take a look at the property and street you are buying on.
Most investors pull up to see a new property and want to get in and out before their car gets cold. Even if they do take the time to thoroughly examine the property, they neglect the fact that while the property is important, so is the neighborhood it is located in. There is nothing wrong with knocking on neighbors doors, introducing yourself and asking about the property. They may tell you about work that was done that you weren’t aware of or other issues that could impact your offer price or decision to make an offer. The more you know about a property, the better off you will be. Most times you can get that information from the people closest to the property.
If the previous owner lived in the property for a while, you can expect them to have a relationship with their neighbors. This is information that you can’t get online or on a listing sheet. If the area is one you are not familiar with, they can tell you about any new projects the town has planned, proposed increase in taxes or possible changes in zoning. In addition to interaction with neighbors, you can drive the area at different times of the day to get a feel of the property. If the traffic is busy in the morning, it may deter buyers from making an offer. If there is constant partying from a house full of college students in the area, it will impact your decision. This is all valuable information that you can simply get by talking to neighbors and driving the area.
Another auxiliary reason to meet neighbors is that you can immediately begin to build a rapport with them, if and when you buy the property. You may want to do some work that could impact them somehow or you may need to park a car in or near their yard. The sooner you make contact, the quicker you establish a relationship. The neighbor may resent the fact that you bought the property from their friend who may have been foreclosed on or forced out of the property. You never know when you will need your neighbors consent if you rent to college students, build a deck or even cut down a tree in the driveway.
It is no secret that the better you know the area you are buying, the much sharper you will be with your price and ultimately with whatever you decide to do with the property. This usually starts with walking the area and talking to the neighbors. All it takes is a few minutes and a knock on the door to get the ball rolling.