When buying a home, you are at crossroads of making an important decision, an important investment that can get severely taxing for your finances and at the same time gives you ownership of a major asset. If you are new to the scene, there are a myriad of factors that need to consider and tread carefully as you would want your first investment venture to pan out successfully. As you go about buying your first home, here are a few questions that you need to shoot in order to get all your concerns answered and eliminate any chance of miscommunication.
1. Why Are You Selling?
First and foremost, this is a question that you or your real estate consultant must ask the seller. There could be a myriad of reasons for the seller to put up his property for sale, including job relocation, family expansion, death, and divorce as well. It’s highly unlikely that you will find the right answer for that question, however asking it might help you negotiate the final price of the deal depending on the reason of the seller for moving out or selling the property.
2. Length of Time the Property has been on the Market
It is quite often the case that a good property would be on the market for a long time and that is usually due to it being priced too high than the asking price which could be due to merely poor strategy. The longer a house is on the market, the harder it becomes to sell it as the listings on the market tend to become stale. It’s a general notion that a buyer might think ‘since the house has been unsold for so long, there must be something wrong with it.
You should ask the seller the actual reason of why it has been on the market for so long, and this might help your cause as the seller might already be motivated to sell the property at a negotiable price.
3. Previous Selling Prices
It is always helpful to know how much the seller has paid for the property. Asking this question to your seller will put you in a position to better evaluate the appreciation value of the property. Moreover, you will also get a good overview of the local market value. This will also motivate the seller to negotiate the price of the property for a reasonable profit on their original buying price. If your seller is not big on disclosing the initial price of the property, you can always refer to public records which are available in your country’s equivalent of Register of deeds.
4. What is Included in the Sale?
Things that are permanently attached to the home, usually the fixtures, and sometime appliances are usually involved in the home sale. Sometimes according to legal definitions, they are included in the sale, however a lot of these might fall in grey area.
In order to avoid any doubt or disappointment, you need to ask what is included in the sale and make sure you get it in writing. Most of the times items like outdoor play equipment, sheds, lighting fixtures, appliances, window treatments, wall-mounted sound systems, and anything else you would be upset to find missing if you moved into the home.
5. Area Nuisances or Problem Neighbor’s
You can choose your neighborhood, but you cannot choose your neighbors. Make sure that your real estate consultant makes you aware of all the elements of the neighborhood of the property. These elements could include speeding on community streets, traffic congestion, noise, barking dogs, crime, litter, and maintenance. Although you might not get a detailed answer on all these elements, you must do your own research and ask around before making the purchase.
6. Lead Paint and Natural Hazards
Generally, disclosure statements serve to inform buyers about a home’s condition and help protect sellers from future legal action if issues and hazards are found. Sellers must make disclosures about such items as existing liens, lead-based paint, natural hazards (e.g., floodplain), termite problems, history of property-line disputes, and defects in major systems and/or appliances.
Although it’s the seller’s job to make these disclosures, you must ask them, nevertheless. It is possible that sellers might not disclose several problems that they are legally not required to disclose. Asking point-blank about the issues to the seller builds good confidence in the purchase and more importantly, would save you sudden surprises.
7. Past Problem Conditions
It is quite common that home sellers might only disclose current problems with the property. But in most cases they leave out any past problems simply due to the fact that it has been already fixed or it hasn’t showed up recently. Ask your seller for the issues they faced when they move in or what all problems they got fixed after moving in? what worked for them? and who did the work?
8. Age of Components
Ask about the age and condition of key components of the house so you are prepared for any big expenses you could be facing. Start with the roof: Newer ones may last anywhere from 15 to 50 years, depending on the roofing material. An asphalt roof lasts about 15 to 20 years, so if it’s already 15 years old, you might be looking at a fairly immediate large expense. Also ask about the heating and cooling systems, appliances, water heater, septic, plumbing, and electrical systems.
9. Major Repairs and Renovations
You need to be exceptionally thorough with your screening process to find out if there were major repairs or renovations that were involved in the resale of the house. Ask whether it was done licenced professionals or a DIY? Several home buyers often find bad renovations, sketchy plumbing, and mediocre construction which besides being hazardous can also cost you large amounts redoing them.
10. What Did You Like Most?
Given that you have already asked this question to yourself, and you are interested in the property, ask this question to the seller as well. Motivated to sell the property, it might get the seller talking about the home, neighborhood, and community. It only serves you as medium to gain more information into what you are buying into. From subtle aesthetics to the ‘x factor’ of the said property, you will get to access how the seller sees it to be, things that you might not have known or noticed otherwise every little detail like – a knit community, a brief walk to nearby park, sun-kissed balcony to flowers that spruce up the garden – everything counts as a selling point on its own.
These are some of the questions that will keep you on par with making the best decision. Buying a house is a big decision, however, it is okay to be skeptical about jumping into things immediately and watching each step carefully. Just make sure you make this aspect of your investment journey as blissful as the result.