If you’ve ever been in the market for a used car, you probably know about Carfax. For $39, Carfax will sell you a detailed report on a car, based on its VIN — vehicle identification number. This can be invaluable when you are considering the purchase of a car that has been through a traumatic event, such as a major collision or flood.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a similar service for home buyers? There is. It is Housefax.com. Housefax reports are available nationwide and cost $29.95 for consumers. Professional plans are available too.
Homebuyers typically rely on realty-focused websites to conduct their research. These sites are mostly driven by data from Multiple Listing Services and county property appraisers. Housefax drills much deeper by pulling data from a multitude of other resources that are obscure and not readily available to the general public. For example, the Property Incidents section scans emergency responder databases for incidents related to the home. Some of the 23 categories included in this section relate to structural fires, outside fires, electrical problems, meth lab activity, chemical or inflammable material spills, light ballast breakdowns, overheated motors, toxic conditions and water exposure/ removal.
The Housefax website will indicate “A home that has had a flood or fire incident could potentially hide mold in the walls spelling disaster for the homes’ occupants, especially small children and infants.” This would alert the buyer to inquire as to how the aftermath of the incident was mitigated. Another benefit to being aware of these incidents is that repeated incidents could portend a moneypit scenario.
The transaction section provides interesting details on the chain of ownership from the original owner to the present. It reports who bought it, how they paid for it, the mortgage amount (if any), the lender, type of loan, etc.
The local hazards section identifies natural, climatic and environmental factors that could affect the property. The first factor is the flood zone the property is located in. This, in turn, will indicate whether a federally backed mortgage on the property will require flood insurance.
The report indicates other hazards that are more likely to occur elsewhere than our regions. These include the property’s proximity to an earthquake fault, proximity to the nearest sink hole, and the hail exposure index. It’s interesting to note this information is available because we deal locally with many home sellers who are relocating to other regions of the country. The information contained in these sections become more valuable to buyers contemplating relocation to unfamiliar territory.
The HowLoud report provides a “soundscore” that indicates the noise level at the property, ranging from 1 to 100. With 100 being the most quiet. This rating is determined and broken down by vehicle traffic, air traffic, and local sources such as restaurants, schools, and stores.
The FEMA reported emergencies section lists natural catastrophes within the county by date. It shows 15 Charlotte County emergencies since 1999, including six hurricanes and a tropical storm from August 2004 to October 2005.
Perhaps the most intriguing section is the utilities report. It shows who provides cell service to the property, and indicates in bars how strong the signal is for each provider.
For a sample report, go to Housefax.com.
About the Author: Brett Slattery is broker/ owner of Brett Slattery Realty LLC. Reach him via 941-468-1430, Brett@BrettSlattery.com or www.BrettSlattery.com.
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