Right now, house hunting may seem like the last thing people would be doing—but believe it or not, there are plenty of people out there looking to move and/or purchase a home today.
Maybe you are one of them?
Shopping for a new home can be a lot of fun. It can also be very stressful since a home purchase is one of the biggest decisions any person or family ever has to make.
So many things to consider.
So many options out there.
So many questions.
So, while this is not an exhaustive list of things you should be asking your realtor, here are seven questions that we believe are very important and that you need to ask when shopping for a home.
Question 1: How long has the house been on the market?
Knowing this information can be very useful. Sure, in a slow market, most homes may sit for a while. But in an average market, there are homes that go quick and then there are those homes that go not so quick.
If the home has been on the market for a while, there could be a variety of factors at play:
- Maybe the home is overpriced?
- Maybe the home has some issues?
- Maybe the neighborhood has some problems?
- Maybe the seller is difficult?
However, if everything checks out and it just turns out that the home simply hasn’t received its fair share of attention, this could work in your favor come negotiation time. There is a good chance that the seller will be more prone to accept an offer that’s lower than asking price versus someone whose home has just hit the market.
Question 2: Is the home in a flood zone or prone to other natural disasters?
This question is important because, quite honestly, it could be a complete deal-breaker. Homes in flood zones or areas of the country that experiences hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like have unique challenges.
They also usually require special insurances that could greatly increase your out of pocket expenses—EVERY YEAR!
If that doesn’t bother you, then great, but you should know this information going in.
Question 3: Were there any additions or major renovations?
Sometimes, property records and listing descriptions don’t always match up.
A home advertised as having four bedrooms may, in fact, only have three, with a porch that was converted into a “fourth bedroom” that was never inspected or subjected to the local building codes.
Find out if there have been any major repairs or renovations done by the seller since owning the home. Ask to see the permits. And request the original manufacturer warranties on any appliances or systems if those have been replaced.
Knowing a home’s improvement history will help you better evaluate its condition and the seller’s asking price.
Question 4: What’s included in the sale?
This one is pretty obvious, but the answers aren’t always.
- Does the home come with the appliances?
- What about the shed?
- Any furniture included?
Do you like that custom built-in surround sound speaker system? Better make sure its included in the sale price.
Don’t get caught by surprise on move-in day when that sweet stainless steel microwave you thought you were getting is conspicuously missing.
Additionally, once you are clear on what is included and what’s not, make sure it is all spelled out in the sales contract as well.
Question 5: When were the last updates to all the major systems?
Whenever buying an existing home, it’s good to know how old everything is. If you are going to need a new roof or HVAC system soon, you need to factor that into the price.
Likewise, if you are looking at a property that hasn’t had it’s electric touched since the Civil War, we’d recommend you get some quotes from a good electrician or two so you know how many thousands of dollars you may be spending once that house key becomes yours.
Question 6: How is the neighborhood?
This information is something you can look up yourself if necessary, but we’d suggest you ask your realtor this question anyway.
This info may not only affect the value of your home, but could also have a huge impact on your quality of life.
- What’s the crime rate like?
- How are the schools?
- Is the neighborhood “up and coming?”
- Are property values increasing, staying flat, or worse yet…declining?
Again, this is not stuff you want to find out AFTER you are settled in.
Question 7: Are there any easements or zoning restrictions and/or regulations affecting this property?
This question is important because most people wouldn’t even think to ask it, but the answers can have a huge impact on your property and how you intend to use it.
Are there any restrictions on how you can use this property?
What are the setbacks? And will they prevent you from installing that brand new pool you wanted?
Can you put up a privacy fence and gazebo on the backstretch of your property or is there a zoning regulation preventing that from happening?
Why is there an easement running through your entire backyard? Could it be that you are sharing a sewer pipe with your neighbors that you all collectively “own” and need to maintain should anything go wrong? (Yes, that’s actually a thing.)
The bottom line is this: Ask your questions and do your research before you get carried away with the excitement of making an offer.
Not only can this information help strengthen your negotiating power, but it may also save you a world of headaches and inconvenience.
Happy house hunting! And remember—need help moving? Give us a call.