Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned pro, the stakes are always high when making such a large investment. So, to help you in the decision-making process, we’ve put together a list of questions you can ask the homeowner and the real estate agents before buying:
To the Real Estate Agent
1. What is included in the sale?
Make sure you know what you are going to get and check that they are really there. Sometimes most of the things you see in the house, such as the fixtures and fittings, will be included in the sale.
2. How long has the property been on the market?
There are two reasons for this question. A house that has been on the market for a long time may be sold at a lower price than asked by the seller. You should also bear in mind that there’s a risk of something being wrong with the house.
3. How many people have owned this house before?
Several previous homeowners for a relatively new house is a major red flag. You must get in touch with the previous owners to find out why the property has changed hands so frequently.
4. How did they come to settle on that asking price?
Agents will generally be okay with sharing this information. Are the houses in that neighborhood all valued at that price? Just remember that you can’t base your opinion on the other homes you have toured because until they close these homes carry no weight for an appraisal.
5. Is the price negotiable?
If you don’t ask, you will never know if there is a minimum price that the seller might be willing to settle for, hence costing you thousands.
6. Have the homeowners gotten other offers?
While the agents will not volunteer information about the amount of these offers, they will generally be willing to tell you if the seller has received other offers. Either way, if you are really interested in that property you will know how fast you need to make a decision.
7. When do the sellers have to move out?
This helps you determine how fast the seller wants to close the deal. If they haven’t found another place yet, they might be willing to wait. This means even more uncertainty for you.
8. Have any major works been conducted recently? And will you have to do any additional works?
If major works have been done to the house, ask to look at the planning and building consents. If not, and you have to undertake repairs yourself then ask about estimates for repairs and don’t make assumptions about the potential costs. You may also want to ask if you can deduct the anticipated repairs from the sale price. Is the property listed? If so, what grade is it? And is it in a conservation area?
9. What is this property’s history of insurance claims?
Since the history of insurance claims can affect your ability to get homeowners insurance, you may want to find out everything you can. It will also help you find out what risks the house is exposed to.
10. Is the house susceptible to other natural disasters?
Depending on the country and the state you live in, remember that the agent is not bound by law to answer this question. But it is always a good idea to ask them this. Even if they can’t answer, you’ve nothing to lose by asking.
11. Can you speak directly to the sellers?
Finally, you need to be able to talk to the homeowners to be able to ask them questions. Even if the agents don’t like it, they can’t stop you from talking to them. And you may get more honest answers from the homeowners than you would from an agent.
To the Homeowner:
1. Why are you selling?
Real estate agents don’t have all the answers. So, if you can get a hold of the homeowner, it’d be a good idea to ask them why they are selling. If they are in a rush, you might be able to offer a lower price. If not and they are ready to wait, at least you know that there is only little room for negotiation.
2. Is there anything I should know about the house if I’m considering buying it?
There are several things that can be considered negative, and you want to know all about them before buying them. Is the local train station too close? Are the neighbors okay?
3. For how long have you lived here?
This may not seem like such an important question until you hear them say for a year. This is a really short period of time. And there must be a reason why they are willing to move out so soon after moving in.