It is easy to fall in love with what seems like the perfect home, only to end up with major financial headaches down the road. While immediate issues such as water pressure are important, it’s key to ask a real estate agent questions to help prepare for the future. Here are some top questions everyone should keep in mind before buying a home.
Buyers should set a budget upfront and see which homes fall in the range. A real estate broker may also be connected with mortgage brokers who can pre-qualify buyers. This way, a loan is already in place if needed.
Ask what the offering price of the home is based on. Some homes may be priced extremely low for a reason. Others may have a higher price due to a recent addition or home upgrade such as a modernized kitchen. Buyers should base their offer on what other homes in the area have sold for, not the asking price.
See how many offers the home has received. Homes with multiple offers sell quickly, so a buyer may need to make a strong offer for something they are set on. It also helps to find out how long a home has been on the market. The longer a home is up for sale, the more likely a buyer could get a discount.
Location is key, especially if a buyer eventually plans to sell the home they pick. A good real estate broker will be able to provide some insight into if the area is growing or declining. One area used to be prone to foreclosures could be the next hottest market.
Check to see which school district the home falls under, and review the ratings of local schools in the area. Families should also see how long it takes to commute to school or to work. Those who want to live closer to a city’s bustling social scene may have to sacrifice time sitting in the car during rush hour.
Along with your budget, consider your new commute to work. It might also be necessary to invest in a fuel-efficient car. But don’t get lost in exploring the new gadgets in cars and forget to check if the car will fit in the garage. Many real estate brokers say buyers end up with trucks too tall or too long for their garage.
Review any nuisance factors. Living next to a restaurant can be a nice convenience during the day but a headache at night with extra traffic. Also, highway noise may keep a light sleeper awake.
A broker or agent can help buyers estimate repair costs for major projects. Ask about the roof’s age, as newer roofs can last for decades. If a roof needs repair, it’s important to determine if the buyer or the seller will end up paying.
Check to see if the walls and attic have insulation, especially if the home is located in a colder climate. The U.S. Department of Energy previously recommended an upgrade if a home has insulation with a thickness of less than 11 inches. And a proper upgrade can help a family save up to $600 a year on energy costs.
Review the home’s plumbing history with the real estate broker. Ask if the sewer line has experienced any issues, as well as the plumbing. Burst pipes are one of the top homeowners insurance claims, so homebuyers should make sure exposed pipes are protected.
Previous owners should disclose any water damage, but an inspector can review the home in case. Long-term water damage can lead to mold and rot wooden beams. Both are dangerous for people’s health and expensive to fix.