Checking Internet Connectivity before you Buy a Home

Believe it or not, not everywhere in Charlottesville has hardwired, broadband internet available.

Wouldn’t be great if “maximum download/upload speed” was a searchable field in the MLS? 

My clients – like 98.64% of my clients – require broadband internet. Broadband internet, for this story, and most people = Fiber, Cable, DSL and not a satellite or a 4G connection (although 4G can be pretty darn fast).

Check and Verify Internet Connectivity

Check that you can actually have internet access at a home before you buy – even if you are pretty sure that it’s there. If the house is vacant, the availability is dubious and especially if Comcast (or the DSL provider in Charlottesville, Century Link) tells you that it’s available.

A few days ago, client and I were in a vacant house. He’d called Comcast twice – trying to convey to them the critical nature of high speed internet. They assured him they could “provide service” to that address. (tl;dr — house has Comcast) Yet the Dish on the roof was disconcerting. As it’s a vacant house, there’s no way to physically verify service, so we went next door, met a friendly neighbor and he assured us that not only did he have Comcast, they had made it exceedingly difficult for him to give them money … but eventually he succeeded.

Several years ago, this happened to my clients.

The house was occupied by an older couple who had neither cable, cable internet, nor need for either, and did not know if Comcast was available.

Both clients and I called Comcast and Comcast assured us that yes, indeed, they could provide service to the house. My clients, like the ones above, work at home and need cable internet.

After closing, all were surprised to learn that Comcast didn’t actually provide service to that house, but to that street, and by “that street,” they meant across the street. After several months, they were able to get service.

Disclaimers abound

The new Charlottesville MLS has two fields for internet – “DSL Yes/No” and “Cable Yes/No.” The MLS also has this disclaimer – “Information provided is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.” Validate and verify for yourself.

Good ideas for a buyer to consider:

  • As a buyer, verify for yourself. Trust the data you see in the MLS and that provided by your Realtor and the Seller/Seller’s Realtor to a degree, but verify for yourself.
  • As for a speedtest report from the seller
  • Get on the seller’s network (with permission) yourself and verify the speed.
  • When in doubt, make the offer contingent on your receiving satisfactory proof within X days of Contract ratification.
  • Check Broadband.gov and Speedtest.net
  • Caveat Emptor

For a worst-case-scenario, see this story from Washington State:

Only months after moving into his new home in Washington state, Consumerist reader Seth is already looking to sell his house. He didn’t lose his job or discover that the property is haunted. No, Seth can’t stay much longer because no one can provide broadband service to his address; even though Comcast and CenturyLink both misled him into thinking he’d be connected to their networks and in spite of the fact that his county runs a high-speed fiberoptic network that goes very near to his property.

Like an increasing number of Americans, Seth works from home, meaning that it’s vital that he have a reliable high-speed Internet connection at all times. That’s why before he even put an offer on the house in Kitsap County, WA, he contacted Comcast to confirm that he could get service to his potential new address.

 

 

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