Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important financial investments you will ever make. You have found a house you like and are beginning the process of acquiring a mortgage and buying the home. Before you make the seller an offer, there are a series of questions you should ask to make sure it is the best situation for you and your family.
To help you navigate this process we've put together a "Questions to Ask When Buying a House" checklist so you'll know when you've found the right one.
12 Questions You Should Ask When Buying a House Checklist
Regardless of whether you are a first-time homebuyer or veteran investor, purchasing a house is a major life event that takes careful planning and forethought.
To help make sure you have all areas covered before making a final decision, ask and answer the following checklist of questions so you'll have a complete assessment of the property, the neighborhood, and the deal being offered.
1. What is Your Budget?
It is essential to determine if you can afford to buy a home and keep up with the monthly mortgage payments before making an offer. The only way to know if becoming a homeowner is right for you and your family is to take an honest assessment of your financial circumstances and projections for the future. Financial advisors recommend that you should only take on mortgages with monthly payments less than 25-30 percent of your take-home income.
2. Why is the Home Being Sold?
Learning why the seller is selling the home can provide the insight you can use during the negotiation process. If the seller seems to need to move the home quickly, it can give you leverage and flexibility to secure a better deal.
3. What is Included in the Sale?
Items like fixtures, faucets, blinds, and cabinets are typically included when you buy a home. The seller's property disclosures will often detail any exclusions that are not included in the sale, but you should double-check with the seller exactly what is and is not included. Ask about items that may not be listed in the description, such as large appliances like the refrigerator, dishwasher, and washer and dryer. If not included, these could cost a decent amount when you move in.
4. What Major Renovations and Additions Have Been Performed?
Cross-referencing the listing description with the home’s property records will reveal any rooms that have been added. Rooms not listed on property records are likely to not be up to local building codes. Finding out what kind of major repairs or renovations have been performed on the house helps you evaluate its current condition and long-term potential.
5. What is the Age and Condition of the Roof?
The roof of the house offers protection from the elements. Roofs are costly to repair and replace, so it is important to accurately evaluate the roof's condition and its history. Depending on the roof's age and condition, your lender may require the seller to agree to pay for needed repairs or install a new roof before the loan is approved.
6. What is the Age and Condition of the Home Operational Systems and Appliances?
Running the HVAC systems and major appliances in the home will be substantial percentages of your home operations budget. Learn the history and condition of essential systems like the air conditioner, furnace, washer and dryer, stove, dishwasher, and water heater. If any of these units are old and will need replacement in the relatively near future, the seller may be able to offer a home warranty to cover replacement costs or a credit towards your closing costs.
7. When Was the House Put on the Market?
If the home has been on the market for a long time, the seller may have more motivation to sell. A seller with a home listed for more than a few weeks may be more flexible with the sale price or other negotiable aspects like contingencies, terms, credits. They may also throw in perks like replacing the carpet or repaving the driveway.
8. What is the Status of the Local Real Estate Market?
The only way to know if the seller is making a fair and reasonable offer is to compare the listing data to other homes in the local market.
When you have more negotiating power, you can get a lower price or specific concessions like getting the seller to cover some or all of your closing costs.
9. Have Any Safety or Health Issues Been Discovered?
The loan approval process can be delayed if hazardous conditions like lead paint, mold, radon, or other dangers are discovered in the home. The seller should be able to present documents supporting the work performed to combat these residential hazards.
10. Have There Been Previous Home Insurance Claims?
A record of prior insurance claims will provide you insight into the kinds of damage the home has suffered in previous years. A Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report will show homeowner insurance claims on the home in the past seven years. Seller's are also supposed to fill out any of these issues in the property disclosures.
11. What is the Neighborhood Like?
Ask around and talk to the neighbors to better understand what to expect from the community. Feel free to ask the seller about the neighborhood. Find out if the people are noisy, pet-friendly, social, or private. Visit the area at different parts of the day and night to get a complete assessment of the area. If you're purchasing a townhome or condo with units attached, it can be a good idea to tour the home during hours that you would be going to sleep or working to get an idea of the type of neighbors you might be dealing with.
12. How Much Will the Closing Costs Be?
The closing costs are those home-buying expenses beyond the down payment. Closing costs can vary and typically include documentation and filing fees for the home appraisal and other administrative needs. You can usually expect to pay up between 2-3 percent of the home’s purchase price in closing costs, so it is important to know what to expect before finalizing the sale.
Work with a SimpleShowing Agent to Get the Best Deal For Your New Home
The home-buying process is complicated, confusing, and overwhelming. That's why it's important to ask the 12 questions in our checklist to make sure the home you are purchasing is right for you.
If you're looking for assistance, the team of qualified agents at SimpleShowing can guide you through the home buying process to ensure you are getting the best deal for your circumstances.
Plus, you'll get $5,000 on average towards your closing costs just for buying with a SimpleShowing agent. Contact SimpleShowing today to learn more about our wide range of professional realty services.