Finding the right home involves research, so you’ll need to ask the right questions. Here are the top 10 questions to ask when buying a house to make sure you’re making a competitive offer on a home that you can afford and that meets your long term needs.
1. How much do utilities cost on average?
Asking about the utilities will give you an idea of what you need to budget into your ongoing costs. This will also tell you if you need to upgrade to be more energy-efficient, depending on the efficiency of the current fixtures, appliances, and features that are built into the home.
2. What’s included in the sale?
Anything that’s considered a fixture is typically included when purchasing a house – such as cabinets, faucets and window blinds; however, there could be items that you think are included with the home that actually aren’t. Make sure you ask what is, and isn’t, included with the home when making your offer. If you really want the washer and dryer, ask the seller if they will add these items into the deal as well.
3. What’s the neighborhood like?
The neighborhood you are buying in is an equally important factor in your buying decision and whether it suits you, your family, and the lifestyle you lead. Find out what your neighbors are like, what the average comparable listing price is for other homes in your area and what resources and amenities are close by, like grocery stores, restaurants, park and local schools (especially if you have or plan to have children).
4. Are there any problems with the house?
Sellers are required to provide a disclosure form listing any known defects, yet what they don’t disclose and what you don’t know can lead to major issues later. That’s why it’s critical to get a home inspection done by a professional home inspector as soon as a purchase agreement is signed.
5. Is the home in a flood zone or prone to other natural disasters?
A property that’s in a flood zone or other natural disaster-prone area may require additional insurance coverage, so it’s important to be aware of this and check ahead of time before you purchase your new home. You can find out whether a property is in a high-risk flood zone using FEMA’s Flood Map Service.
6. Are there any health or safety hazards?
Items like lead paint, radon, mold, or other major hazards can be expensive to address and hold up your loan approval. Ask the seller to provide documentation if there have been past issues and find out exactly what has been done to resolve those problems.
7. How old is the roof?
The roof of your house is necessary and expensive, so make sure you find out the roof’s age ahead of time to avoid having to replace it shortly after move-in. If the roof has existing damage, your lender may require that it be repaired in order to approve your loan.
8. Is the insulation in good condition?
When installed properly, insulation can increase the comfort levels of your home by maintaining a consistent, uniform temperature from room to room. Good insulation will increase your home’s energy efficiency, significantly lowering heating and cooling bills, while old or ineffective insulation may contribute to an uncomfortable climate and exorbitant energy usage — so make sure you ask if its in good shape.
9. Are there any ongoing maintenance issues?
Eventually, you’ll find out about the ongoing maintenance needs of your new home, yet you should ask ahead of time and find out as much as you can from the current owners before you decide to purchase and close. Anything from the sink having a slow leak to the gutters having slight damage and needing to be regularly cleaned and fixed, you’ll need to factor in these maintenance issues into your overall buying decision.
10. Are there any future replacement needs?
It’s essential also to consider asking about any upcoming replacement needs for any appliances or features nearing the end of their lifespan or look for any signs of anything that might need to be replaced, in case they haven’t been disclosed.