Whether buying or renting, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Existing homes have different issues than newly built homes.
For previously owned homes the Arizona Department of Real Estate advises:
-Hiring your own broker to represent you in the sale.
-Checking the seller's property disclosure report and asking for receipts for any repairs done on the home.
-Ordering your own termite inspection.
-Hire a professional home inspector to check out the home.
You may also want to have specific trades take a look at big ticket items like air conditioners, hot water, heaters, pools, and plumbing. Another good idea is to talk to current residents and see what they think about the neighborhood.
If you are buying a brand new home The Arizona Department of Real Estate advises:
-Make sure you understand where your earnest money is going to be deposited. If it goes into the builder's general fund rather than an escrow account you risk losing it if the company goes under.
-Check the CC&Rs for rule you may not be able to live with.
Also research your builder's record with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and search the county courts for recent civil lawsuits about defects.
When looking for a rental home, read through every part of the lease. That is what you and your landlord will be held accountable during your tenancy. What are you responsible for? What are the rules about terminating the lease early?
If in an apartment, do an online search for reviews, talk to neighbors for their experience and drive by at night to see how the property is handled after dark.
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