Great Questions To Ask For All New Home Buyers

29 Jan
New Home Buyers

Once you have satisfactory answers to all of these questions and are still happy with the house, it’s time to sit down and write the offer.

Shopping for a house can be a difficult and stressful time and in some cases it is possible to forget a few key things during the process. Before you make an offer and sign your name on the dotted line there are a few questions that you should ask your real estate agent and the current owner. Answers to these questions will help you be more confident when making an offer.

Here are just a few questions you should ask before making an offer on a house:

How much is the house worth?

While a real estate agent cannot ethically tell you how much to offer for a home, they can give you plenty of information that will help you decide what the house is worth in the current market before you make an offer.

Ask to see recent “comps” or comparable sales in the neighborhood. Your agent should be able to pull up the sold prices of nearby homes, along with the high and low ranges for a specific property.

Your agent should also be able to tell you how long the home has been on the market, and how long homes in that specific neighborhood are averaging in days on market. This will give you an idea of how hot or cold the neighborhood you are shopping is, and how quickly homes are selling.

If the home you are considering has been on the market for a significant amount of time there’s a good chance it’s a slow market or the home is overpriced. Both are good for you.

How flexible is the Seller?

A good seller’s agent should be able to tell you how firm the seller is on the asking price. You may want to have your agent ask this question. Offering a lowball figure can sometimes offend the seller, ruining any chance you have of purchasing the house.

Never ask how much less they will take, as a real estate agent is never going to give you that information. Asking how flexible they are will give you some idea of whether they are willing to bend on the price or if they require a full price offer to sell the house. Remember, not all sellers are going to be flexible, some will stick to their price.

If they are not flexible on price consider asking the seller if they are willing to help with closing costs.

Are There Issues with This House?

No house is perfect so don’t believe it if the agent is telling you the home is in perfect condition. Ask the question directly, are there any issues or problems with this home. If they are still reluctant to answer the question remind them that the house will be inspected before closing and they are required to disclose any major issues with the home.

It varies by state but the seller may be required to fill out a mandatory disclosure form in which they are legally responsible for revealing any problems or issues with the house. If you live in one of those states be sure to ask for the disclosure form and have any items listed on the form inspected and resolved before you close on the house.

Is the House in a Flood Plain?

A home that is located in a floodplain will often require a flood insurance policy, which can dramatically increase your insurance costs.

You can check the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website which post maps online that show the various floodplains in specific areas. You can see if a home you are looking at is located in a floodplain and if flood insurance will be required.

If the home is located in a floodplain the next thing you need to determine is what type of floodplain and the risk rating that has been assigned to the house. A house located in a high-risk floodplain will cost much more to insure than one located in a low-risk floodplain.

Contact your insurer to get a quote before making an offer or ask to see the seller’s insurance bills. If the insurance costs will end up stretching your budget it’s best to move on to another house.

How Much Will Home Insurance Cost?

The cost to insure a home can vary depending on a number of factors. The square footage, the neighborhood it is located in, the materials used and even the distance to the nearest fire station can all impact a homeowner’s premium.

If the house is located in a neighborhood that has a poor crime rating expect to pay more for insurance. Older houses tend to cost more to insure due to more expensive materials used in the build and the fact that the electrical and mechanical systems may be outdated.

If you are a new home buyer or even shopping real estate websites for a new home you can get multiple quotes from on any house you are seriously considering. You can also ask to see the homeowners insurance bills but remember, your personal factors can influence a premium as well so it is best to get your own homeowners insurance quotes. We can shop and compare up to 12 rates and coverage options for you.

How Much are Property Taxes?

Taxes and death are the only two certainties in life so make sure you know how much the taxes will cost on your brand new home. Property taxes can add a significant amount to the cost of living in a home. This is especially true if the property is located beachfront or in a hot neighborhood.

Ask to see the property tax bills for the last few years if you are serious about buying a certain house. Include them in your monthly budget and make sure the taxes don’t blow out your budget. If the taxes have gone up dramatically in the last few years, find out why and determine if further increases are on the horizon.

Is the paperwork for the mechanical systems available?

Ask for the paperwork for all the mechanical systems in the house and any major appliances. This will ensure that if the units malfunction you will have the proper documentation to make a warranty claim or get them repaired.

If possible you should also ask for a list of paint colors used in the home so you can easily make touchups if you don’t change the colors.

What do the Utility Costs Monthly?

The monthly utility bills will be part of your budget while you own the home so it is best to know what you are up against before making an offer. Reviewing the utility bills can also alert you to potential leaks or failing mechanical systems.

If the bills have gone up dramatically over the last few years the mechanical systems may be failing and will need to be replaced with more energy-efficient options. Again, if the monthly utility bills will put a strain on your budget, consider a different house.

When Was Septic Tank Last Pumped?

If the home has a septic tank, you should ask when it was last pumped out. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a septic system should be pumped every 3 to 5 years depending on its size. Pumping a septic system typically cost between $300 and $400.

Once you have satisfactory answers to all of these questions and are still happy with the house, it’s time to sit down and write the offer.

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