One of the services we provide to our clients is assisting them in the preliminary research regarding a piece of property they are considering buying, also known as due diligence. The issues that a potential buyer needs to look into depend on the type of the property, the history of the property and use to which he or she intends to put it. With over 40 years of experience in real estate matters, our firm has developed systems and checklists, as well as a body of knowledge, to assist in conducting the investigation of a new property. Among the most important and common issues owners encounter in purchasing property are:
- critical areas, such as wetlands, which may occur in areas that appear to be no more than a drainage ditch or wet ground;
- zoning and use restrictions, which may prevent an owners expected use or changes to the property;
- landlord and tenant issues, which may arise even though there is apparently no tenant in possession;
- issues related to personal property on site, which is especially important when there are specific appliances or fixtures on the property;
- homeowners associations and community organizations, which may limit or impede an owner's use of the property or result in unexpected payment liabilities;
- environmental issues, such as hazardous waste on the property, which you may be liable for even if an owner is not the cause;
- encroachment and boundary-line issues, which are common on all types of property and can lead to costly dispute, whether or not an owner is concerned about the disputed property; and
- unpaid assessments or development fees, which can result in substantial payment liability.
Another issue, which is of vital importance for properties not served by urban utilities or intended for water intensive uses like agriculture, is the presence and status of water rights, which will be the subject of a future post.