After all that searching, you found it – a home you love – one that seems perfect for you and your family! With all the details, it really feels like you’ve found the one. But before you make that all important offer, take a step back, breath, and ask questions! Asking questions is a crucial step in the home buying process, one which will allow you to make sure you have found the home of your dreams. Even now, a few questions have probably come to mind, but not all the ones you need to ask. Here’s a list of the questions to ask when purchasing a home to help you as you contemplate your dream home.
What is the home’s sales history?
Here is where a well-qualified realtor can really be of assistance. While the MLS listing will show you the last time the home was sold and how much the current owners paid, if the house has traded hands multiple times, the data may be harder to come by. Knowing this, can help you determine what the current owners might expect by way of an offer. Along with the area comps, you might also gain a bit of negotiating power.
Did the sellers make major renovations or additions?
If the current owners added a bedroom, renovated the kitchen or master bath, or made some other large renovation, you need to know what they did and how much they paid to have the work done. Again, this will give you insight into what the sellers expect by way of a reasonable offer.
How much are property taxes, monthly maintenance (homeowner’s association fees included), and utility costs?
These all add up to additional expenses on top of your mortgage, so you need to budget accordingly. Property taxes, based on the value of the home, should be on the listing page, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask your realtor or the seller. Also, if you can, ask when assessments were last done. Next, ask if the community has a homeowner’s association fee and how much it is. If one exists, you’ll want to see a copy of the covenants, by-laws, annual budget, and minutes of the last meeting as well. Finally ask about power bills, gas, electric, or combo, as well as water, waste removal, and any other applicable utilities.
Has the house or yard ever flooded, had broken pipes, or a sewer backup? Have there ever been any pest infestations? How old is the roof?
You can gain a bit of insight here along with your questions, by noting how high the house sits on the street, as well checking for sufficient drainage, signs of standing water, mold and mildew around the outside of the house, in the basement, on decks and patios. If pests have been a problem, what steps were taken to resolve the issue. If you notice issues and the homeowner isn’t forthcoming, a home inspection will uncover issues that need addressing. As far as the roof goes, they have a life of 15-25 years and a substantial cost to replace, so you need to know when to expect that expense in your future.
Are there parking restrictions?
Is there a driveway, a garage? Can you park on the street? What if you have a boat or camper, is that permitted or does it have to be garaged or stored elsewhere? When guests come to visit, where will they park? Are permits needed? Where do you get them?
While this is not by any means a comprehensive list, it will certainly help you get started by helping you garner the information you need to make an intelligent educated decision about the home of your dreams.