If you are planning to purchase a new-to-you abode in the near future, then you know there are certain things you have to do: Find a reputable agent or broker, scroll through the MLS listings on your favorite website, employ the services of a qualified home inspector when you have found the place of your dreams, and make friends with the neighborhood kids.
Yes, you read that last part correctly – make friends with the neighborhood kids. Trust me on this; kids have a relationship with Real Estate grown-ups just don’t understand. Courthouse documents, walkthroughs and professional assessments will only get you so far but these are the people who have the skinny on every property on the block so why not benefit from their experience and expertise?
Even if they have never lived at your particular residence, chances are they have spent a lot of time there and probably know it like the back of their hand. They have seen it at its best, worse and every stage in between. They overhear every conversation, bear witness to every event and they think nothing of telling you everything they know about the place. They know which toilet handle requires a jiggle in order to insure a proper flush and what appliances tend to go on the fritz. They can tell you all about the day the septic tank exploded turning the side yard into a swamp, can point out which windows are the easiest to sneak in and out of and can show you a very simple way of getting into your back door without the necessity of a bothersome key. (You may want to call a locksmith after learning this last piece of information.)
As folks who have been in your house hundreds of times in the past, it does not occur to neighborhood kids to censor their comments or sugar coat the truth. In fact, they see it as their sacred duty to acquaint you with your new home and neighborhood even if that means telling you how much you overpaid for the place, that you are going to need a new roof next spring or that their dad hopes you’ll mow the grass more frequently than the previous owner did.
Although their names may not be on the title and they may not make the mortgage payment each month make no mistake; neighborhood kids are heavily invested in the place you plan to call home. They created memories there, memories that are not transferrable at closing and do not disappear with the moving van. So when they want to show you how Mrs. So-and-So organized her cabinets to maximize available space or point out the best spots to stake out during a game of indoor hide-and-seek, remember they have a vested interest in the place as well and sharing their knowledge is their way of staying connected.
Besides, give them 30 minutes, and you will probably find out the secrets behind every square inch of your new place…along with a few things you’ll wish you hadn’t heard.