Aspiring Homeowner’s Not-So-Obvious Homework: Do Your Due Diligence, Dude

By Nathalie Nayman August 17, 2016
Photo courtesy of

“Do your own research before buying a home,” your real estate agent said, “Thorough research.”

Great idea. If only there was such a thing as an aspiring homeowner’s unified and exhaustive list of things to research. Sure, it won’t hurt to go over some common sense items like checking local crime stats and public school ratings (thank you, Captain Obvious).  But once you’re done with the easy part, you are inevitably stuck with hundreds of other articles to browse and easier-said-than-done tips.

Related: Buyer Beware: Greater Due Diligence Needed in Real Estate Transactions

Here is one: “Check traffic patterns during the rush hour.” Now, that would be quite useful, and as soon as you figure out a feasible way to obtain this kind of information, do let us know. Or – “Check what the neighborhood is like on a Friday night.” Well, the results might differ on your average June weekend from, say, in February, so don’t forget to collect the data for both, Okay? That might require some in depth local nightlife sampling – but hey, it’s purely for the sake of research.

On a serious note though, creating an all-purpose list with relevant links would be impossible – as much as we like the idea. Obviously, such a list would have to be customized for each person, according to their unique needs. So what we at Agorafy did was come up with a list of not-so-obvious things that might be useful for your prospective buyer’s homework agenda.

Remodeling Restrictions

Relevant if: You think you might ever want to do any home remodeling.

According to Chicago Tribune, the number of Americans that venture into the home improvement and remodeling projects is growing relentlessly. Chances are, you will want to give your new home a little make-over at some point – especially if life plans include children. And that might prove to be a bigger pain that you could ever imagine: especially if the property you are planning to buy turns out to be designated landmark. In that case every minor tweek or alteration will require an approval from the Landmark Preservation Commission. And if your building just happened to be located in one of NYC’s 114 historic districts, the same rule will apply. Finally, just because the property is newly built and isn’t landmarked, doesn’t mean you are off the hook. In this case you might have to deal with your Homeowners Association (HOA) and who knows what rules they might have established.

Useful Homework Tools:

1.  Check if a building is landmarked

2.  Check if your building is located in a historic district

3.  Find out the HOA’s rules

You would have to obtain an HOA’s contacts from the seller (or better yet, ask your real estate agent to help with that). This website, however, might give you some useful tips in dealing with these tough folks:


Gentrification Status

Relevant if: neighborhood amenities and property taxes size matter to you.

We know, we know, gentrification is the #1 urban plague. But still, living in a gentrifying neighborhood has its pros and cons. On the one hand, a gentrifying neighborhood equals rising property value which is kind of nice – except when the property taxes go up. But then again, that means higher tax revenues for schools and parks – and who doesn’t enjoy having a nice park on the block? Provided, of course, the property taxes won’t force you out of the neighborhood. Non-gentrifying neighborhood means more cultural diversity – but it also means your local coffee options will be quite limited. To sum up, it might be a good idea to check what direction the neighborhood of your choosing is headed.

Useful Homework Tools:

Classification of NYC’s Sub-Borough Areas


Neighborhood Noise Levels

Relevant if: You are noise intolerant/ have a toddler who is a sensitive sleeper

We almost dismissed this idea as an easier-said-than-done tip – and then found this cool map that can tell you just how loud your neighborhood is – based on such factors as flight paths of airports, certain type of businesses and traffic. Urban noise is, probably, not the number one factor that concerns a NYC’s house hunter – but all it takes is a couple of sleepless nights filled with mysterious clanking and grinding to make you deeply regret that you’ve ever been born.

Useful Homework Tools:

Check the Soundscore of your neighborhood here:


Level Of The Building’s Creepiness

Relevant if: You get spooked easily / Have always dreamed of living in a haunted house

Would you be uncomfortable knowing that, once upon a time, a person was shot in your living room? What about a grandma peacefully passing away of old age in your house? The truth is, people’s feelings differ drastically on these matters. If you are moderately faint-hearted, it might be a good idea to check just how many people died in the house you are planning to buy – especially, if the cause of death was somewhat violent. Now, what to do with this info is up to you, and if death doesn’t deter you – Godspeed.

Useful Homework Tools:

OshimaLand shows anything creepy that, reportedly, happened in a given building. While this information should be treated with a grain of salt, if it says that a shooting or an arson happened on the premises which you covet, you might want to research the matter further

If you want to get a detailed report on all the folks that passed away at your house, you can use the Be warned, however, that this data will cost you money (and, probably, peace of mind). Exactly for the last reason, nobody at Agorafy dared to test this website – so if you do, please tell us how it goes.


Nathalie Nayman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nathalie Nayman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nathalie Nayman

Nathalie is an international media trooper. After working as a journalist in Moscow, Nathalie participated in local politics and social movements in Cairo where she covered the protests and political upheaval of the Arab Spring. Nathalie is Agorafy's content manager. She produces and oversees unique and creative content for the Newsroom.

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