Buying a home can be scary. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a move-up buyer or a downsizer there is so much to know about buying a house. Often we get so caught up in the house we forget to consider other things. Let’s look at some questions to ask when buying a house.
There are certainly a number of questions you can ask when buying a home. This list of questions a home buyer can ask either themselves, the seller or an agent will certainly get you started on making sure you fully enjoy your home after the closing.
One thing to point out is there are no stupid questions. You have a lot at stake when buying a home.
If you need an answer to something that may prevent you from buying the home…. ask! Heck if you can’t live in a house that may be haunted, don’t think it is too silly to pose your question.
Ask Yourself These Questions When Buying A House
It so easy just to get caught up in a house you lose sight of your goals. As a homebuyer, it is important to keep yourself on track. Here you will find some great questions to ask before you buy a house.
You want to maintain a certain lifestyle and where you live is important, so step back and ask yourself these important homebuyer questions when you are thinking of buying a home.
What Are Your Motivations To Buy A House?
Make sure your motivations to buy a house or good ones. You are locked into a home or community for a while and it is not easy to back out if you change your mind.
Don’t buy just because all your friends are and you feel like you have to. Buy a home because you want to set roots somewhere and you want to be a homeowner.
What Will My Commute Be Like?
Consider the time it will take to commute to work. But as a home buyer, you should carefully consider the amount of time you will spend commuting to and from work.
Often in the greater Boston area, a homebuyer may b become enamored with communities farther out from their workplace because of the affordability factor. But it does come with a cost….. time!!
A 30-mile drive in the Boston suburbs could mean 1.5 hours in the car each way during rush hour. Consider how valuable is that time spent away from your home and family.
Where Is My Sphere of Influence?
Your sphere of influence is your family and friends. Just like your commute do you have easy access to your family and friends from the home you are about to purchase?
Easily connecting with your sphere is important. This is who you spend your downtime with. You don’t want to feel isolated from friends and family.
Will This Home Suit Me Long Term?
Often immediate needs drive the purchase of a new home. But it is important to look into the future and see if a home will be right for you in the next 5-10 years.
Remember real estate markets go up and down and there is a cost to selling your home. It isn’t like renting where you get the thought to move and you go. It may take years for your home to appreciate enough to get out whole.
How Are The Schools?
Ok, you may not have kids, or maybe you don’t yet or you have been there and done that. But there are two things that drive home prices in the greater Boston area. The proximity to Boston and school systems.
If you are planning to have kids, you will start to worry about it in the future.
If you don’t have or plan on having kids, buying in a good school district helps maintain the value of your home. Towns with good school districts help retain their value and are the fastest to appreciate.
What Is The Neighborhood Like?
Your home is part of a community. Does your neighborhood have parks, sidewalks, what are the surrounding homes like?
Buying a great house in a neighborhood you don’t like will only disappoint you. Explore the immediate neighborhood around the home you are considering, make sure it is what you want.
Does The Town Offer What I Want?
By buying a house you are setting roots. You are now becoming a member of a community. Is the town where you want to live and set roots?
If you are older with health needs you may want to be close to your doctor and hospitals. Maybe you are thinking of starting a family and schools are important to you. Or, you are a dog lover and you want the ability to take your pet to a dog park to socialize or even a local veterinarian.
You want to do a little research on schools, shopping, parks, medical facilities or whatever suits your lifestyle needs.
Do I Have The Skills And Finances To Fix Up A Home?
A homebuyer will envision redoing a kitchen, replacing flooring, remodeling a bath. And with the prevalence of home renovation programs on TV, homebuyers are trained to think this way.
The Home Improvement programs sure make it look easy. What they fail to show is the cost and the work involved. Before you pull the trigger on that fixer-upper do you have the skills and the finances to complete your vision?
It is usually less expensive to buy a home that has had recent renovations than it is to complete the work yourself. And don’t overdo it, be smart about your renovations to get the most bang for your buck when you sell.
Does The Home Fit My Budget?
Most buyers buy at the top of their budget. It is easy to inch that budget up. The bank may qualify you for a mortgage that exceeds your personal budget. But you are the one that has to live with the payments.
Make sure you budget not only for your mortgage payments but home maintenance and enough money to live a balanced life. Don’t live just for your house.
Questions To Ask About The House You Are Buying?
Even the best of houses can have small issues. It is important to know what is ahead of you in the near to intermediate future. You want to make sure you can handle any issues that arise.
Realize that Massachusetts is what is called a caveat emptor state, which translates to buyer beware.
This means that the seller has no obligation of disclosing anything about the home they are selling. But if you ask a question they are obligated to answer truthfully. Disclosure varies from state to state so make sure you understand disclosure laws for your state.
Do You Have A Seller’s Disclosure?
In some states seller’s disclosures are optional and some it is required. Either way ask for a seller’s disclosure.
A Seller’s Statement of Property Disclosure is a several page document asking questions about the home and may highlight some problem areas of the home and actually should answer many of the following questions.
Can You Provide A Years Worth Of Utility Bills?
Ask for a year’s worth of utility bills. This should include electric, gas and/or oil, water and sewer.
Asking for utility bills is a great question to ask when you buy a home. It gives you an idea of what the utility bills are so you can budget accordingly. Also, you can get an idea of how well a house is insulated by a home’s heating bills in the winter months.
How Old Is The Roof And Major Systems and Appliances?
Replacing a roof, furnace, central Ac or a kitchen appliance can be a costly endeavor. We would all love a new home with new systems and appliances. But when buying a resale home the ages of the systems and appliances can vary.
At the very least you can budget for future replacement or if an item is well past its useful service life you can pay extra attention at the home inspection to make sure it is still functioning properly.
Is There Any History Of Water Penetration In the Basement?
Let’s face it here in New England a basement can sometimes get water.
Knowing when and how much water a basement has received will be important. As a home buyer you want to know if it is reoccurring and a problem needs to be addressed or if it is a one-off due to severe conditions.
Ask before your home inspection so you can discuss the issue with your home inspector and buyer’s agent.
Has Any Work Been Done to The House That Required Permits?
Don’t pay for work that has been done that required permits where no permits were pulled. Especially if the work has not been done in a professional manner.
If permits were pulled verify the permits with the town. The worst thing that happens is to go sell your house to find out that the previous owner did work that was not up to code and provided a safety hazard.
What Is Included In The Sale?
Property affixed to a property it is considered a fixture and should be included in the sale, like faucets, lights, cabinets, etc… If a seller is excluding something from the sale that should stay with the home disclosed upfront.
But things like washers, dryers, refrigerators or blinds can go either way. Get a full understanding of what is included with the home sale so there are no issues arise during your final walk-through.
Is The Home In A Flood Zone?
Flood insurance can be expensive. Before you go down the road of buying a house to find out you have to carry expensive flood insurance ask the seller if the home is in a flood zone and if they are paying flood insurance.
Hopefully, if there is they disclose upfront the home sits in a flood zone so you can decide if you want to move forward or not.
Questions To Ask Your REALTOR
What Is Our Agency Relationship?
A buyer’s agent is the only type of agent that represents you, the buyer. They work for you and have your best interest at heart. Every other type of agent… listing agent, buyers agent, dual agent does not necessarily work for you.
Know what your agency relationship is with your real estate agent so you know how to communicate with them.
What Are Current Market Conditions?
Does the market favor you or the home seller? Or is it balanced? The real estate market you are in will dictate many things in your home sale.
Currently, we are in a very hot seller’s market. Sellers have the advantage. Buyers are competing for homes and many homes are going over asking and buyers are writing very compelling offers that may include removing your home inspection contingency.
Contrast that to 2009 and sellers were struggling to capture a buyer’s attention. Buyers could ask for the moon and they would probably get it!
Knowing the market conditions sets the tone for how you look for homes, write an offer, how stringent you can be on home inspection etc… Don’t try to swim upstream if you don’t have to.
What Are Similar Homes Selling For In The Neighborhood?
A buyer’s agent can provide you with a CMA or Comparative Market Analysis.
A CMA is a report that includes a similar home to the one you are considering purchasing. It gives you a range of fair market value and if the asking price of a home is a fair price or not.
By knowing what a home is worth you can negotiate with confidence.
Like anything in life, you get out what you put in. These 19 questions to ask when buying a house will set you on the path to finding a great home that will serve you well for years to come.
Other Home Buying Resources:
- Are you thinking of buying a new home? Petra Norris lays out the 17 steps to buy a home.
- Being a first time home buyer can be daunting. Karen Highland shares 4 steps to buying your first home.
- Buying a home very much revolves around getting financed. Luke Skar explains the mortgage process from getting preapproved all the way through closing.
- Are you wondering if you can get financed for a new home? Kyle Hiscock demystifies some common mortgage myths.
19 Questions To Ask When Buying a House is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty. Are you looking to buy a home in Essex or Northern Middlesex county and you want to partner with an agent that serves rather than sells, give me a call at 978-360-0422.
Excellent article. Thanks for sharing your insights and resources.