It’s important to know which questions to ask when buying a house. You want to get the best deal, but you also want to ensure you discover any potential problems with the property before closing on it.
Important Questions to Ask When Buying a House
As a first-time homebuyer, it is so easy to get wrapped up in a property you love and make an offer before doing all of your research.
Here’s what you need to ask when making an offer on a property:
How Old are the Home’s Appliances?
When you purchase a home, major household appliances like the refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, and laundry systems typically come with it. Because the lifetime of these appliances can vary greatly, it’s important to know when the current homeowner replaced each of them, if he has at all.
This information can help you decide if the asking price is fair. That is, if you are purchasing a home stuffed with appliances from 20 years ago, you might be able to negotiate a better price.
When Were the Replaceable Portions of the Home Last Redone?
Another set of the most important questions to ask when buying a house relate to the condition of the home’s replaceable structures. Replaceable structures are things like the home’s roof, gutters, siding, and HVAC systems.
Proper maintenance on these systems is an essential part of being a homeowner, so you’ll want to make sure they are in working order before you set your heart on a home. It’s also worth it to ask about any documentation for the repairs, just in case you need to do any follow-up work.
How Old are Any Major Renovations?
The easiest way for homeowners to increase the value of their home is to make cosmetic changes to its “high traffic areas. Before making an offer, it’s important to know about the age of any renovations to the kitchen, bathrooms, etc. as these can deeply impact the value of a home.
What is NOT Included in the Sales Price?
While things like dishwashers and refrigerators are usually assumed to come with a house, there can be situations in which the previous homeowner will want to take the appliances with them, especially if there is a second fridge, perhaps in the garage.
Other seemingly “built-in” features could be mantles, bookshelves, and lighting fixtures. It’s important to be clear about exactly what you are getting to avoid any disappointments on move-in day.
Does This House Have Any Negative History?
We’ve all heard the stories – real estate sold at a severely discounted rate because of a murder in the house. Or maybe a drug lab in the basement. Or a hub for some other kind of illegal activity.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to know if the home you plan to purchase comes with a sordid past. Sometimes, it’s not even crime. Negative history could include house fires, major floods, and other natural disasters.
The laws for disclosure are different in every state. In some, Realtors must disclose a home’s history upfront. In others, it is the buyer’s responsibility to discover the information. Because of this, it’s always better just to ask.
How Many People Have Owned This Home?
If you are interested in purchasing an older home, then it’ll be nearly impossible to get a full list of owners. That’s fine! The real purpose of this question is to discover if the previous homeowners lived in the home long term, or if the home changes hands every year or so.
If the latter is the case, then there might be something wrong with the house that you are not able to see. If possible, you should ask why the current owners of the home are selling. You don’t need to pry. But, knowing if the state of the home is causing them to flee is one of the most important questions to ask when buying a house.
What’s the Going Price for Homes in this Neighborhood?
If you are trying to determine if the sales price of the home you have fallen head over heels for is fair, it’s a good idea to ask about the current value of other homes in the vicinity.
This is an especially good question to ask as the appraisal agent (who helps determine the value of the home for the seller) will also rely on these figures to set the price he thinks is fair. You can ask your Realtor for a list of recently sold homes in the area.
How Many Offers Are on the Table?
The current real estate market is very competitive. Many homes generate multiple, competitive offers. Don’t be afraid to speak up in the midst of a bidding war, especially if you are in love with a house, you’ll need this information to craft the winning offer.