A Multi-Family Home

Before Putting Down Roots, Use Google to Dig Up Dirt on Your Potential Home

by Arnold Gomez

Sometimes sellers omit certain facts about their homes or neighborhoods to avoid scaring away potential buyers, and that is why you need to launch your own investigation to get information about the home you're interested in. Here are two things you should Google about your future home that may help you avoid making a mistake.

Criminal Activity

In many states, homeowners are obligated to tell potential buyers about certain crimes that occurred in the home. In Texas, for instance, sellers must disclose whether someone died in the home because of a violent crime. Many times, though, a home seller is not required to tell you about criminal activity that may have happened in the neighborhood. It's your duty as the buyer to ask those important questions and, even then, you may not get a solid answer.

Entering the home's address in Google can uncover crimes that may have happened there or in the vicinity. It's common for reporters to put a blurb about burglaries and other crimes in the newspaper to fill up space. Since most newspapers are online these days, you may get a hit when you enter the home's address. To maximize your search, enter the names of cross streets too to uncover problems in adjacent neighborhoods.

You can also use Google to locate sex offenders living near the home. Enter the search term "Megan's Law registry" plus the city and state where the house is located. This will bring up a registry where you can see how many sex offenders live in the area. Even if you aren't bothered by the presence of these individuals, their proximity can affect your ability to sell your home at a later date, so you need to be aware of this challenge before you hand over your hard-earned money.

Other useful sites that can help you look up crime in the area are HouseCreep.com and CrimeReports.com.

Unearth Human Health Concerns

Another thing you can uncover using Google is local environmental issues that may cause or exacerbate health conditions. For instance, it may not be obvious when you visit the house, but using Google maps may show the home is located in the flight path of an airport. The constant noise from airports can lead to problems such as increased blood pressure, and the associated air pollution can worsen asthma and other lung diseases.

Meth homes are another problem in many areas of the country. The residue from manufacturing the drug methamphetamine linger long after the original owners have vacated the home and has been known to make people sick. However, the home sellers may not notify you the house use to be a meth lab. Luckily, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has a website where you can look up whether the home you want to buy was a place where people made meth. If so, you can either pass up the sale or negotiate with the owners to have the home thoroughly cleaned by professionals.

For more tips on using Google to uncover important information about your home, contact a real-estate agent.