A home is the greatest single purchase you can ever make and make no mistake – you are definitely going to spend a lot of time and resources looking for the right spot. You will know a great extent about the house once you’re ready to buy. However, it would be wise to investigate a little more to figure out the answers to some analytical question, in order to feel more secure and at peace when you finally make your purchase.
A dialogue with the vendor, the agent of the seller, and a proper check of the public records can help you make an informed decision by filling in the blanks. Real estate may be a lucrative industry but it is also a big gamble. While virtual real estate viewings have certainly made things easier, it doesn’t mean that the risk has reduced. If you’re not careful, your investment could end up becoming a huge disaster – which is why asking the right questions is extremely important.
To weed out the best ones from the pile, here are some questions that you need to ask which will help you along the way.
1. Is the home in a flood zone or prone to other natural disasters?
The reason you need to ask this question is simple – a property that is located in a flood zone or an area that is prone to natural disasters may require additional insurance coverage. Homes situated in a federally designated, high-risk flood zone, for instance, need flood insurance. Similarly, if you’re buying a house in an area where earthquakes are a frequent occurrence, you may require earthquake insurance. In such a scenario, it is important for you to buy enough homeowners’ insurance to offset the cost of fully restoring your house if it is destroyed. You may be left footing a massive bill to repair your house if you’re underinsured, in case disaster hits.
2. Why is the seller actually selling his/her house?
From life events like marriage, the birth of a child, or retirement to job relocation or a desire to shift into a smaller/larger property, etc – there can be many reasons why people move. While it’s tough to get an honest response to this question, it is always wise to inquire whether the seller is moving out in order to decide how much scope there is for negotiation. The seller may consider a lower bid depending upon their reason for moving if it means they can leave the house faster.
3. What’s included in the sale?
While you will obviously be getting the building, it is not always clear what you’ll be getting beyond that. To get some clarity on what the sellers will be taking with them and what they are going to leave, it is important that you ask this question. This will help you understand the total expenditure you will have to make in order to make the house more liveable and also may influence the amount you’re ready to pay for the land. Here’s a pro tip: Get the seller’s answer to this question in writing, especially if they promise to leave behind high-value things.
4. What’s the neighborhood like?
This is a really important question and again, one that is tough to get an honest answer for. Ask the seller how the neighbors are – quiet or noisy, helpful or not, polite and friendly or rude and unfriendly? Ask them whether the area and people are pet-friendly, etc. Don’t depend entirely on the seller to share these details with you, because you may not get a truthful answer or the whole story. Drive around the neighborhood and talk to the people you meet. You are more likely to find out things yourself than by asking the seller.
5. How long has the house been on the market?
This is a question you should ask your agent and if you want to double-check, do some research of your own. If it’s been on the market for a long time, chances are that it’s priced too high or there are some issues with the property. It would be inadvisable to make a low offer at this point, especially if the house has been on the market for 21 days or less. It would be better to make a low bid after about 90 days, but in this context, it may mean something like 90 percent of the asking price.
Another thing you can do to gather information about the house is attend virtual property tours. Virtual site visits are more informative than you think and may help you make an informed decision before you finally close the deal.