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9 Questions You Should Ask Before Buying

Jay Marks

Jay has been selling real estate since 1993 and has had the opportunity to help several thousand clients buy and sell real estate over those 30 years ...

Jay has been selling real estate since 1993 and has had the opportunity to help several thousand clients buy and sell real estate over those 30 years ...

Aug 10 5 minutes read

Congratulations! You've finally found the home for you! 

After searching for weeks looking for the "perfect" home, you finally found "the one." The one with the open floor plan, hardwood floors throughout and... shiplap! Okay, maybe not the shiplap. Maybe we've been watching a lot of "Fixer Upper" recently.

Before you put in an offer on this "perfect" home, we recommend you consider asking the following nine questions about the history and condition of the home. Your Realtor can help you get answers to these questions or you can do some digging around of your own using public tax records, etc.

1. What is the sales history of the home?

A good first step is to check the last time that the home sold and how much the current owners paid for it. You can find the sales history online or ask your Realtor to look into it for you. 

But keep in mind that while you'll be able to see what the house was bought for previously, the current value of the home is determined by similar homes in the area that are currently for sale and have recently been sold.

2. Have there been any major renovations or add-ons?

If the sellers have recently improved the kitchen or bathroom, or they have added an extra bedroom or converted attic space to living space, you're going to want to know. 

Depending on exactly what they did will give you a guesstimate on how much they spent on improving the area. And, just because a seller spent a certain amount on the remodel doesn't mean that they are going to get the full return on it. On average a remodel can expect about a 60-65 percent return. 

3.  Has there ever been a broken pipe?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, broken pipes make up an estimated 22 percent of all home insurance losses. If the homeowner doesn’t mention it at the begining, a good home inspector will usually be able to find evidence, so you might want to put these on your list of questions to ask your inspector, also.

4. What are the monthly utility costs?

Is there a monthly HOA fee? Find out all of the details about it. What kind of power does the house use? Gas, electric, a combination? Whatever it is, find out who the companies are and what the average monthly costs are.  

5. How much are the property taxes?

You can ask your Realtor or the sellers what they have paid in property taxes. It's critical to know that the property taxes are based on a percentage of the assessed valuation of the house, so keep in mind that the purchase price of the home could affect this. 

6. How old is the roof?

The 2015 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors says the national median cost of an asphalt roofing replacement is about $7,600. Definitely a good idea to know how soon you might need to lay out that substantial amount of cash.

7. Has there ever been any pest infestations?

If there have been pest infestations, when were they treated last? And just because a house has been treated doesn't necessarily mean that it's pest-free now. So asking the question is a great place to start. 

8. Are there warranties on the appliances, HVAC, garage door?

If there are warranties in place, ask the seller to provide documents. This will give you an idea on the age of the big ticket items and allow for you to plan for replacing them in the future. 

9. Does the house have any kind of unusual history?

There are some items of information sellers don't necessarily have to disclose on the Seller's Disclosure, so if you have any questions about unusual history, you can always ask!


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