Buying a home is a psychological game, with very high stakes and huge incentives to bluff; a lot like a game of poker. Many first-time home buyers fall head over heels in love with the first home they see, without realizing that if you pick the wrong home there typically isn’t any policy available that allows you to return the house for a refund. IF ONLY.
However, real estate agents are legally obligated to tell the truth, so you need to ask the right questions about your potential new home to find out what the real situation is. Avoid regrets by knowing what to ask a realtor or owner before you commit to a new home with these 8 questions:
- Why is the owner selling?
This is probably the most important question you should be asking if the home you’re considering already has an owner.
There are several reasons why people move including the need for a bigger house for their growing family, job relocation, life events, change of scenery or, is it that they are unable to keep up with the never-ending cost of trying to keep the house in shape?
Finding out why the seller is moving, could be the make or break point in your final decision. If you can’t ask the seller directly, ask your real estate agent to ask for you.
- What’s the area like?
You may be viewing your ideal home but it’s in a deeply secluded location and you don’t drive, what are going to do when you run out of teabags?
Take note of the proximity to all amenities in the area, accessibility to public transport and if you have children, check if there are any good schools in the area. Use Google Maps to your advantage and lookout for what’s around the area before visiting – you’ll be able to see the schools, restaurants, health facilities, malls, etc. near you.
- What are the neighbours like?
Noisy neighbours are a big no-no for some buyers so if this will put you off buying, make sure you ask what they’re like. The noise you hear during the day when people are at work may be different from the noise at night. Be sure to ride by the house during the day and night so you’ll know.
Additionally, it’s important for you to be a part of a friendly, welcoming community, so find out as much as you can before you make your final decision. Are there any community events? Do they throw a lot of parties? Are they messy? These are only a few questions you should find the answers to.
- How long has the house been on the market?
One of the primary reasons a house ends up staying on the market a long time is that it was priced too high, to begin with.
The longer a house stays on the market, the harder it becomes to sell and buyers think there must be something inherently wrong with the property otherwise it would have sold by now, right?.
However, there’s an up to this. A property that’s experiencing a prolonged time on the market might mean the owner is willing to negotiate and accept a lower price.
- What would your commute be like?
Imagine finding the home of your dreams but the commute to and from work is a living nightmare! Are you willing to persevere through the traffic just for the perfect home? Or have to get onto 3 different buses each way if you don’t drive?
If you believe you have found the home of your dreams, don’t drive home one evening instead, drive to your new ‘prospective’ house and see what it will be like. If the commute is unbearable and too hard to stomach, then this isn’t the house for you no matter how “perfect” it may be.
- How much will your monthly utility cost be?
It’s all well and good finding your dream home but if you can’t keep up with the bills, you may be in trouble. Utility bills are unavoidable so either ask around the neighbourhood, current occupant or your agent for an average monthly cost.
Doing this will allow you to work out your budget and see how flexible your budget is for both monthly utility costs and a little bit of fun. If viewing an apartment, ask if the monthly rental fee is inclusive of service charges. If not, enquire how much it is and see if it fits comfortably within your budget before committing.
- Is there adequate mobile phone reception in the house?
HELLO?..HELLO?…CAN YOU HEAR ME? HELLOOOOOO?
There’s nothing more frustrating than having terrible mobile phone reception in your house – especially if you need to make or receive an urgent call.
Be sure to check your phone while you’re inside the house to see how strong your signal is. Nobody ever wants to feel like they are living in a restricted zone where communication with the “outside world” is non-existent.
- Exactly what is included in the sale?
Make sure you have a clear indication of exactly what you are getting. You’ll want to know how much land you’re buying; where the boundary line begins and ends; If there is enough storage for your belongings or if the fixtures and fittings are included in the sale. It is not unknown for most of the contents to be included in the sale.
- Visit the property and surrounding area at different times of day to see how much light you’ll have in the house and, how the neighbourhood differs at different times.
- You know the saying “Two heads are better than one” – take someone with you to get their opinion. They might even pick up on stuff that you hadn’t noticed alone
- If you can take photos of the property, do it. Taking photos will help you remember what it looked like and you can work out how much you need to redecorate
- Lastly, make a note of anything you pick up and use this to negotiate your price
What do you think are the best questions to ask before buying a house? Tell us in the comments!