10 Questions to Ask Before Buying a House
Buying a house is a stressful process. Few things cause more anxiety than the great ordeal of buying a home. Real estate is a tricky business and homes don’t exactly have ‘return policies.’ Thus, it’s important you get all the necessary information before putting up a down payment. Before you sign your name on anything here are some things you should be sure to ask when buying a house:
Where there any major renovations done?
Listing descriptions and property records don’t always match. Renovations aren’t always done for best reasons either. Sometimes renovations are done intentionally to cover things up before a sale. It’s also not guaranteed that a particular renovation meets building code. It’s important before you commit to get a full list of all renovations and why they were done. Knowing a home’s upgrade history can help you better understand the state of the house and its current asking price.
How old is the roofing?
Having to replace roofing isn’t fun or cheap. The average cost of roof replacement is $7,500–no small feat. To give yourself an idea of how long you have before replacements are needed, you’ll want to know how old the current roofing is. Basic asphalt shingles, the most common type of roofing, typically needs to be replaced every 15 to 20 years. Sometimes the lender may require existing roof damage to be repaired before approving your loan. To avoid a financial nightmare, find out the age of the house’s roof immediately.
How old are the current appliances
Similar to the home’s renovation history, you’ll also want to know how new the appliances such as furnace and water heater are. You’ll want to know when the septic tank was last pumped. Knowing this will allow you to gauge how long you have before any replacements will be needed. If the appliances are on the last leg of their lifespan, in some instances, you ask the seller’s to buy a home warrant to help cover the costs.
How much are other homes in the area going for?
One way to gauge whether you are getting a fair price from the current owners is to see what other properties in the area are going for. Ask for a list of recent neighboring home sales to see if the current asking price is reasonable for the neighborhood. This prevents getting stiffed by over inflated prices.
What are the monthly utility costs?
One easy thing to ask right off the bat is to look at some utility bills. Knowing how much you can expect to spend on utilities is worth knowing before you make any decisions so you can determine if the home is in your budget. Sometimes it’s not buying the home that’s the problem, it’s maintaining the home. Similarly, ask what sources of energy the house uses. That might give an idea of any upgrades you may want to make as well.
What is the market like in the neighborhood?
Similar to the last question, you’ll want to know what kind of real estate market you’re buying into. Is the neighborhood growing or shrinking? Are home values going up or down? If people are fleeing the neighborhood and prices are going down, you may not want to buy there. Make sure you get a good picture of the market in the area you’re looking at to see if the home you’re considering is a good investment.
What is the condition of the gutters?
One emergency repair that can quickly eat a hole in your wallet is having to replace gutters. Quotes for new gutters typically reach around $5,000. It may only take one good storm to set you thousands of dollars behind. Find out what kind of condition the gutters are in before you have to find out for yourself. If there are guards in place, do they work? Do the gutters easily get backed up? Where do the downspouts empty out?
Why is the current owner selling?
Frequently people sell their homes to relocate for a new job or to be closer to family. There’s nothing nefarious with that. Yet other times people move for other reasons such as the house is sinking into the ground or because there’s a really bad case of mold. Understanding the motivation for why the owner is selling can very useful for knowing what you’re getting into. If they need to move quickly, that can sometimes help you in terms of negotiation power.
How long has it been on the market?
Depending on how long a house has been listed, you may find yourself with more negotiating power. Homes that have been on the market a long time can be seen as problematic. It usually indicates that the asking price is too high. The longer a home sits, the more people assume something must be wrong with it. The owner in turn, may then have a higher urgency to sell.
Is there any negative history?
This may seem a bit paranoid, but most buyers want to know if the house they’re looking at has been the site of any murders. Likewise, the status of any pets buried in the backyard or any reports of paranormal activity are good things to ask about. Also consider asking whether the house was build on ancient burial grounds. People want to know about the history of home they’re buying.