Buying a house can be very exciting, but it is important to keep in mind that this is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make in your life. As such, you’ll want to ensure you have all the information you need to make an educated decision about purchasing a property. When you go to a showing or open house, don’t be shy about asking the real estate agent plenty of questions. Read on for some of the most important questions you need to ask.
- Are there any problems or issues with the house?
- Has the listing price changed since the initial listing?
- Why has the seller chosen to move out?
- Have you received any other offers yet?
- How long has the house been on the market?
- How much do utilities typically cost for the home?
- What amenities and attractions are in the local area?
- Trust Your Gut
Are there any problems or issues with the house?
This is one of the most important questions, as this will alert you to any potential problems that could cost you big bucks in the future. For example, if there was a leak in the past that caused a lot of water damage, even if it has been repaired, you’ll want to know about it. The technicians may not have fully repaired the damage, and it could become worse over time.
In most areas, the seller’s agent is required to provide you with the Seller’s Real Property Disclosure Form (SRPD) once you have made an offer and it has been accepted by the seller. This document will outline any potential issues that the seller is aware of.
Although the law requires the seller to provide the SRPD after accepting the offer, the law does not extend to open houses and private showings. The seller’s agent is not required to disclose any problems during this time, though some agents are more forthcoming than others. It doesn’t hurt to ask and can help prevent wasting everyone’s time if an issue is a deal-breaker for you.
Has the listing price changed since the initial listing?
The pricing of the home is public knowledge, so the seller can’t prevent you from finding out this information. The seller’s agent can answer this question for you, as can your own.
In most cases, the seller’s agent will want to explain the reason behind the price change to you to ease your worries. For example, the initial price may have been set too high for the current market due to the seller’s emotional attachment to the home, or the seller may be in a rush to sell to move for a new job. In the latter case, you’ll have more negotiating power, as the seller is highly motivated to close a deal, and you may be able to negotiate an even lower price.
On the other hand, the price could have dropped because there haven’t been any offers or because there is something wrong with the property that is turning buyers off. These red flags could signify that you should look elsewhere but be sure to do plenty of research before you make your final decision. One person’s deal-breaker could be a non-issue for someone else.
Why has the seller chosen to move out?
In most jurisdictions, the seller is not required to disclose this information, though many will be more than happy to, especially if it is for a positive reason. If the seller has accepted a new job in another area or is downsizing after their children have grown up and moved out, they will likely be more than happy to share that information with you. If they are sick of listening to the neighbor’s dog barking at all hours of the night, on the other hand, they may be reluctant to disclose this, as it could push buyers away.
Don’t take a seller’s silence on this matter as a negative, necessarily. It could just be that the seller is a very private person and doesn’t want to go into detail about their personal situation. They could also be fleeing an abusive relationship and don’t want to discuss their private troubles. Take this answer to consideration along with the others on this list, but don’t let a single answer sway your decision too much.
Have you received any other offers yet?
This is another scenario in which the seller is not required by law to answer your question, but it never hurts to ask. As mentioned previously, each agent is different, and some will be more willing to answer your questions than others.
Knowing about the other offers on the table, or lack thereof, can inform your negotiating tactics. For example, if you know that there are several offers on the property, you may be more willing to pay a higher price to beat out your competitors in a hot market. If there haven’t been any offers yet, you’ll have more power in the negotiating process, as the seller may be getting antsy and be more motivated to get things moving along.
How long has the house been on the market?
This question goes hand-in-hand with the previous one, so you should look at the answers to both in relation to one another. Let’s say that a property has not received any offers yet, which gives you pause. However, you then discover that the house has only been listed for a few days. In this case, a lack of offers would not be a cause for concern. If the house had been sitting on the market for months without an offer, though, it could signal an issue with the property or that the seller has set the price too high for the market.
There are many reasons why a property could sit on the market for a long time. In many cases, it is because the price is simply too high for the current market and the seller isn’t willing to budge. It is also often that something isn’t quite right with the home itself, the community or the surrounding area. On the more positive side, it could just be that there are many other similar properties for sale in the area. When buyers have more choice, it can sometimes be difficult for sellers to move their properties without significantly lowering the price.
How much do utilities typically cost for the home?
This question is especially important if you are moving to a new area with different utility companies than you are currently using. Utility prices vary widely across the country, so you want to know what you can reasonably expect to pay each month. You’ll need to take this into consideration when evaluating your budget and determining how much house you can realistically afford.
Keep in mind, also, that utility costs may vary seasonally. In the summer, you can typically expect higher electricity bills, as you’ll need to run the air conditioning frequently. In the winter, you may see a spike in your gas or electricity bills, depending on whether the home has a gas or electric heater. The seller may or may not provide this information when you ask. You may be able to obtain rough estimates from the utility companies, based on the size of the home.
Don’t forget about other expenses, like cable or satellite TV, internet connectivity, water, sewer and trash services. Take your time to research these costs, especially if you are moving into a home for the first time after living in an apartment. Utility costs are often much higher for homes than apartments or condos, so adjust your budget accordingly.
What amenities and attractions are in the local area?
This is a question that most real estate agents are more than happy to answer. Start off asking about the basics, like banks, grocery stores and the like. Schools are another popular topic in this category. The quality of the schools in the area could be a big deciding factor for you if you have children or plan to in the future.
You may also want to ask about local attractions, like movie theaters, parks, restaurants and other activities to fill up your leisure time. Most agents pride themselves on their in-depth knowledge of the communities they serve, so you can expect them to be more willing to share than with some of the other questions on this list.
Make note of the amenities and attractions discussed so that you can refer to your list later. By the time you buy the property and move in, you may have forgotten what they agent told you. If you are touring multiple properties, keeping separate lists can help you remember the distinctions between the properties.
Trust Your Gut
In some cases, you may have a gut reaction to a home or neighborhood, and you should take heed of this warning. Even if a house seems perfect on paper, it likely isn’t the best choice for you if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable or on edge when in the home. Educate yourself about the property as much as possible but trust your instincts as well. The combination of the two will help you find the perfect house for your needs and preferences. With a lot of patience, and a bit of luck, you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
Call The Wright Choice Team today at 804-307-2589 to tour available homes for sale in the Chesterfield County area.