Buying a home is undoubtedly exciting, but most people who are diving into the home search don’t quite realize just how complex the entire process can be. Fortunately, having a great real estate agent by your side will prove to be a huge help, but it’s always great to do your own research and preparation, too. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of eight questions you most certainly should ask when you find a home you’re interested in.
“Why are you selling?” sounds like a simple and straightforward question, perhaps one so simple that you don’t even need to bother with it, but it’s actually the first question you should have a home seller address.
While they could certainly choose to lie, most homeowners will be open and up-front about the reason and it gives you the chance to get to know the owners and hear more details about their home and neighborhood. Possible answers could be they’ve outgrown their home, they are relocating due to a job change, or they are empty nesters and looking to downsize. If anything, the conversation it starts will help you build a rapport with them, which can encourage honest answers to your other questions.
How long a home has been on the market is a question your real estate agent or home seller can address with ease. This will be a simple question to get an answer to and it can give you more insight into how the home (and neighborhood) stack up.
For instance, if you are in a relatively “hot” real estate market but a home you’re interested in has been listed for many months, that could mean it’s priced too high or in a less-desirable area that isn’t attracting as many buyers. Additionally, it could also mean that offers have been made and then retracted, potentially due to issues that arose during inspections.
While the last selling price may not be too useful to you if you’re buying a home that hasn’t changed ownership in many years, it can be very useful if you’re buying a house from someone who purchased it within the past ten years. Obviously, you would hope that the home is now listed for more than it last sold for because that indicates a strong real estate market.
On the other hand, if the home just sold less than a few years ago and you’re seeing a major price difference between that number and its current list price, you’ll want to talk to your agent and dive into that difference further. It could be that the real estate market is rising rapidly, which could indicate a localized housing bubble, or it could be that the current owners have made a lot of improvements to justify the house’s price increase.
You’re not just buying the house, you’re buying the roof, the driveway, the plumbing, the electrical, and every other component that makes the house into a livable residence. As such, you should ask the owner how old these components are and it will give you an idea of whether or not you will need to plan on replacing them within the next five to ten years. Since these components represent major expenses, you’ll certainly need to factor the condition of them into your offer.
Asking about major repairs and renovations can help you uncover areas where the owner has built equity in the home, but it can also help you spot red flags if they did some or all of the work themselves. Their answer will allow you to look more closely at whatever changes they have made and determine if it’s up to your quality standards.
Additionally, it can give you insight into potential problems. For instance, if they say they recently replaced the roof, that might sound like great news, but it could have been replaced due to a leak that led to mildew in the attic. In that case, you’d want to make sure the attic’s issues were properly addressed as well.
While a home seller certainly could lie about the neighborhood they live in, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask about it. Many will be up-front with you about the things they don’t like, although they’ll try to put a positive spin on it. For instance, there may be train tracks nearby that are disruptive during the night or the people selling the home may find a nearby school to be a nuisance, even though for you it might be a big convenience.
Additionally, there are certain things that sellers are required to disclose by law, including certain things that have been revealed during past home inspections. This would include mold growth and other hazards, so asking this question could provide a platform for them to address these concerns.
Asking a home seller what they liked the most about their home is a wonderful follow-up to all the prior questions and it gives you the chance to connect over what makes their neighborhood a great place to live.
This is when they’ll have the opportunity to brag about the friendly neighbors, the beautiful dog park around the corner, the summer block parties, and everything else that you’ll want to be part of. Of course, if they can’t come up with things easily, that could be a red flag, which is why it’s a great question to ask during your home search.
A seller concession, or seller contribution, is part of a real estate deal where a seller can choose to cover some or all of a buyer’s financing costs. While a seller will rarely cover all of a buyer’s financing costs, of which there are many, the most popular seller concession to request is for a seller to cover half of the closing costs associated with your purchase of their home. When it comes to closing, you can use a service like LemonBrew Abstract to cut down on costs.
The journey to finding the perfect home begins the right real estate agent. Use LemonBrew to locate the local real estate agent that’s just right for your needs. With LemonBrew, just set up a profile describing what you’re looking for in a home and you’ll get matched to a vetted agent for free and they can help you find the perfect property. Best of all, when it comes time to buy, your agent will reimburse you with part of their commission! Click here to learn more.