Whether you do your own 'searches' or get your attorney to do them for you, it is very important to make sure that you fully investigate all aspects that could affect your decision to buy the property. This includes everything from checking the exact boundary lines of the property, which will help you avoid future disputes with the neighbors, to local weather conditions and zoning regulations.


Checking the zoning codes for the property is essential if you plan to build an extension or an ADU like an apartment above the garage. You also want to know if there are plans to change the zoning code in the future, as this could affect your decision to buy.

Local Plans

There may be local area plans for new roads, hospitals, schools, or even city parks in the future. You don't want to buy a property in a nice quiet area and then find that the highway department is planning to build a six-lane highway at the edge of your property in five years time! To do these types of searches you may need to spend a few days at city hall trawling through endless documents, or you may be able to search quickly online. However you do the searches, make sure you do them. That bargain deal might not be such a bargain after all if an industrial plant is planned for the area! On the other hand, a new sports complex in the neighborhood might mean that house prices will rise substantially once it opens.

Weather Conditions

If you are moving into a new area or to a different state, you need to check local weather conditions that locals may not think to mention. You may be moving into a vulnerable hurricane area or an area which is prone to flooding. Alternatively, the property could be in a drought area with water restrictions, which could affect your plans for a swimming pool or lush garden. By making sure you know about weather conditions in advance, you shouldn't have any unpleasant surprises.

Earthquake Zones

If you are moving to California or other earthquake prone areas you want to be certain that the house you are buying meets the current earthquake building codes, or can be adapted if necessary. You also need to check exactly where the fault lines are, as you don't want to buy somewhere with a fault line running right through the property.

Fire Hazards

In forested areas you may be restricted by fire codes that prevent building too close to trees. Many multi-million dollar homes were lost in California wildfires in recent years, so even if your home is more modest, you need to take into account the risks of buying in these areas.

The Neighbors

It is also a good idea to check out the neighbors and the neighborhood. See if any of the neighbors have any current or previous legal disputes with the current owners or other people in the area. These type of neighbors may cause problems for you too. On the other hand, a neighborhood watch association or similar community activity shows that people are involved in their community and that they want to look out for their neighbors and the neighborhood.


You also need to get a house insurance quote for your prospective property. Even moving a few streets away from where you live now, into a very similar property, can substantially alter the cost of your house insurance, never mind moving across the country.

Remember 'searching' is an essential part of the house buying process.