The 8 most important questions to ask when buying a house
Purchasing a home is probably one of the most expensive financial transactions you will ever be involved in, and it’s likely something that will happen only once in your life. Given this, there are many things to keep in mind when buying your house.
If you’re not an experienced home buyer, chances are you aren’t aware of everything that should go into your home buying decision. Here are some commonly overlooked questions to ask when buying a house.
- What’s My Total Budget?
The first thing you need to do is understand how much house you can afford. When it comes to buying a home, the sales price is not the only factor that determines how much house you can afford. You must also consider the costs associated with homeownership such as property taxes, homeowners association dues, homeowners insurance, and any renovations you want to do in near future.
- What Is The Risk Of Natural Disaster?
If you’re buying a new home, then you might also need to consider—natural disasters. While these are not necessarily common in all areas, they do exist and can become reality if you buy an older home. These disasters range from earthquakes to hurricanes, wildfires, and even tornadoes.
Therefore, it’s important that you factor in the insurance costs of your potential new home. Depending on the location and the age of your new home, you might need homeowners insurance that covers natural disasters. This is particularly important for homes near fault lines and flood zones.
If you are buying your new home in an area where there is no such requirement, make sure that you assess the risk of a major disaster.
- Why is the seller leaving?
If you’re buying a house, it’s important to understand why the seller is moving. Is he just relocating as a result of a major life event? Downsizing? Hitting the big time with a recent promotion and moving to a swanky new pad? There’s a good chance you won’t know the answer until you ask.
Finding out why is important information as it may give you some insight into exactly how motivated they are to sell and at what price point. A motivated seller who’s in a rush to move or whose house has been on market for long is more likely to negotiate the asking price with you as compared to the seller who’s not in rush to sell the house.
- What’s included in the sale?
If you’re purchasing a house, it’s important to know what is and isn’t included in the sale of the home. While anything that’s considered a fixture such as faucets, cabinets, and lights are typically included in the sale but that’s not always the case. The listing description often describes any exclusions that the seller is not selling.
But, it’s better that you ask this question in your offer. If you really like something in the house, ask if the seller can throw that item in the deal or not.
- How old is the roof?
After you’ve gotten your home inspected you’ll have a good idea of what work is needed to make it a home. But the most important aspect of the inspection will be whether or not you need a new roof. Most home inspectors will look at your roof and give you a range of years left in its life span based on recent leaks, build quality, and wear and tear.
If the roof needs repairing, you may be able to get the asking price down or have the seller repair the roof as a contingency to the sale.
- Are all the major appliances in good condition?
There’s no denying it; major appliances can be a significant expense not only because they cost a lot but also because they don’t last forever. Knowing the age of existing appliances — and how likely they are to break down — is a good way to have your bases covered.
The major appliances in a home are a water heater, HVAC, washers, and air conditioning. If these systems are old in your potential new home, you will want to know early on so you can negotiate the asking price or ask the seller to get them repaired/replaced.
- Were there any major renovations?
Whether it was a kitchen, bathroom, or perhaps even structural improvements to the foundation, you’ll want to know what work has been done? While most sellers will provide this information in their property information forms, it’s always a good idea to ask them about it during your initial property tour. Request the original manufacturer warranties on any appliances or systems that have been replaced.
Knowing the home’s improvement history will help you better understand the worth of the property and the seller’s asking price before the deal is closed.
- How much have similar homes sold for in the neighborhood?
If you are thinking about buying a home, you will want to know if the asking price is in line with the market price of similar properties in your neighborhood. As a basis for comparison, your real estate agent can pull the comparable listing data for similar houses in your neighborhood that are currently on the market or have been sold in the last six months or so.
- How long has the house been on the market?
The longer a house has been on the market, the more eager the seller is to sell his property. This means that the seller is probably more willing to negotiate the asking price and you will find flexibilities in contingencies and terms.
Most homes languish on the market for a while if they’re priced too high at first. A listing that shows multiple price cuts and has been sitting on the market for too long may give buyers an impression that something is wrong with it, which gives you a prime opportunity to negotiate for a deal.
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