Buying a home is a big purchase. In fact, it’s probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. Over 5.5 million homes were sold in the U.S. in 2018, and that number is only expected to grow in 2019. However, you don’t want to rush into buying a home that isn’t right for you.
It’s easy to get excited by quality photos in the real estate listings. When you’re facing steep competition, you might feel rushed to make a purchase. It’s important to learn as much as you can about the house before you buy to avoid any surprises when you move in. Prepare yourself with these 10 questions to ask your home seller.
1. Why are you moving?
First, it’s important to get the reason why the homeowners are selling their home in the first place. While there are many reasons to move that are perfectly understandable, you want to make sure they aren’t relocating because of a problem with the home. Most people move because they’re relocating, they are downsizing or upsizing, or they’re facing a big life change. If they don’t have a clear reason for moving, this might be a red flag.
2. What are the average expenses?
You can’t always know how much things like utilities will cost until you move in. For some homes, these can be a substantial monthly expense. Most home sellers are comfortable sharing what they usually spend on things like sewer, water, and electric every month.
3. How are the local schools?
If you’re planning to raise a family, you’ll want to look into the quality of the local schools. The current homeowners might have kids of their own in the local public schools, and they’re a great source of information. Talk to them about the pros and cons of the local school system and if they have any recommendations.
4. How much did you pay for the home?
It’s helpful to know just how much the seller originally paid for the home (and when). It will let you know if you’re in a rising housing market or if local prices have recently lowered. Plus, you’ll also have more room for negotiation if you learn the seller paid significantly under market price. If the seller isn’t open to talking about how much they paid, this information is public record and can be discovered at your local deed office.
5. How old are the A/C unit, water tank, and roof?
Next, you want to ask about some of the more expensive aspects of the home. The A/C unit, water tank, and roof can be big repairs if something goes wrong. Learning how recently they were installed or repaired will help you understand what you have in store once you’re the homeowner. The last thing you want is to move in and discover the A/C unit hasn’t been repaired in a decade!
6. Have there been any major repairs?
Similarly, you’ll want to ask about any major repairs done on the home. Depending on your state, home sellers need to be upfront about any current problems on the property. This doesn’t usually extend to past problems, so see if they’ll be willing to discuss these things with you.
While a past problem doesn’t mean there’s anything currently wrong with the home, it might indicate that another problem will arise in the future. In addition to asking about repairs, confirm these repairs were completed by a professional.
7. Were there any structural changes?
Structural changes like adding a room, patio, or changing the layout of a home can have a lasting impact on the property. Not only should you be aware of these additions, but you’ll also need to make sure they were approved by the county. Once again, a structural change doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem, but it’s something to be aware of.
8. How long has the home been on the market?
Houses usually stay on the market because they weren’t priced well when they originally listed for sale. In most cases, they were listed too high. These listings will become stale over time and might turn off other buyers. The longer a home is on the market, the more negotiation power you have as a buyer.
9. What’s included in the home sale?
While you might think everything in the home is included in the sale, that’s not always the case. Anything that is permanently attached is usually included but not always. There is sometimes a gray area when it comes to things like faucets, window blinds, or even cabinets. Talk to the buyers about what’s included in the home sale so you aren’t caught off guard.
10. How are the neighbors?
Finally, ask about the local neighbors. There are a lot of reasons why a great home can be tainted by poor neighbors. Frequent speeding on local roads, persistent traffic, and loud neighbors might be a reason to consider another property. Aside from researching local crime statistics, talk to the current homeowner about their experience in the neighborhood.
You can also see for yourself how the neighborhood is. Check for potential red flags like litter, poor maintenance, and signs of crime. Aside from this, trust your gut when talking to the home seller about any neighborhood nuisances.
As you can see, there are a lot of key questions to ask the home seller before you make a purchase. The more you can learn about the home before you close on the sale, the better. These 10 questions above will ensure you’re ready to make this big decision with confidence.