Questions to ask when you’re buying a house

For most people, buying a house is a really big deal. It may be that you are only planning on living there a couple of years, but it could also be your intention that you will be living there for an extended period of time, in which case it is even more so important that you are especially careful in doing your due diligence and making sure that the house has all the different aspects that you value so much. 

No matter if you’re buying a house or looking at putting a significant amount of money into the stock of a company, you’d want to make sure you’re making the right decision. After all, you’re talking about a decision that will have major financial consequences for you and your family. In addition to that, making sure you buy the right house may also help lower your stress levels by providing you with the various functions that you are seeking. You will naturally not want to make a mistake where you would have to endure the consequences for years to come, why you’re now on this page making sure that you are properly prepared for what lies ahead, and to make sure you don’t make any major mistakes. It only makes sense that you take the time to carefully evaluate all your various options when it comes to making decisions that would have such massive financial impact as is the case with the purchase of a house. While you may consult with real estate agents, financial advisors, mortgage lenders and other pros, it is ultimately your decision whether this is a journey you choose to embark on or not.

You’re not just investing your life savings into this project – you’re investing your happiness. If your family is like most American families you won’t be buying the house with funds that come out of your pocket, which will mean you will obviously have to get the funds from somewhere else, and in most people’s case, that will mean they have to go out and borrow the funds – the most common way to do so is by getting a mortgage. What that means is that you are basically committing to paying payments on a loan for 30 years before being debt free, unless you choose other types of less conventional financing. You’re not just making a massive financial commitment, but this is potentially something that could be changing your life, or at the very least where you will end up living for the foreseeable future. 

If you are one of the people that will visit a house briefly and then put in an offer, you may want to consider if it isn’t at least worth asking all these relevant questions before proceeding. While there may be a certain pressure from a real estate agent who is showing a house to get you to commit or not in a speedy manner, remember that this is an asset you are buying for yourself and not for your real estate agent. 

You owe it to yourself and your family to make sure that you’re not just jumping into a house that you won’t be happy in, and that is a thing that will require several things, but making sure you ask the right questions in the process is an important part of finding and buying that house.

A list of the most important questions you can be asking

While this may not be an exhaustive list of all the different questions you can ask throughout the process, it’s definitely a good way for you to get started, and one of the first things that you may want to figure out is whether or not the community and neighborhood offer some of the amenities that are important to you. These are really things that you should be asking before you end up making an offer. When you are seeing the house, these are good questions to ask the real estate agent which they should be able to give you a better understanding of. 

What are the surrounding schools like, and are they known locally to be of high quality? If you have to buy a house and move to a different part of the country, it is very good to ask the real estate agent as they will usually be able to provide you more information on the school district, how they’re ranked etc.

Where is the nearest hospital at? What about other services such as grocery stores and shopping areas? Will I need a car to go to them or are they in walking distance? While you might be able to do your own research, it’s your time to get some feedback from the real estate agent, and that includes having them answer such questions. You can obviously look up the grocery stores in the area, but there is a chance that you won’t know about everything that the area has to offer from the research you did and that a real estate agent can help you better understand everything the area has to offer. How will you know about that cute little coffee shop where you may pick up a coffee here and there? While it could be that you take a leap of faith and find out as you decide to move there, a much more rational way to go about it would be to ask the real estate agent about some of these things. If they are a good real estate agent, they will have had many different listings in that area and answering some of these questions will not be an issue for him.

Are there any train tracks, construction or other sources of noise in the area that could be annoying to live next to? How much of an issue are they, and how often do the trains go? Do you know if it is something that was bothering the owners of the house, or anything they have ever commented on? While they are there to sell a home, it is often also easy to figure out if someone is being truthful with you or not, so while we would do our own research on these issues, someone who values their image and tries to keep up a level of professional integrity will at least mention these things so that they don’t become issues at a later point during the due diligence process, or as you are considering putting in an offer. Real estate agents do know that things may come up on occasion and that means that a sale may end up falling through. There is a reason why offers on a home are often contingent, as the potential buyer is researching various things. For instance, it is very common that buyers will require that an old home gets tested for lead paint using the various EPA-approved kits for the purpose, as a lot of families, especially those with kits may be reluctant to move into a home if there are concerns about the safety of the building. 

Is there an HOA, how active are they, how much does it cost and what do they require of the other homes in the neighborhood? While it may seem tedious that you have to pay money to an organization every single month, they often both offer a bunch of advantages but may also be able to keep a certain level of cleanliness in the area. For instance, it is very common that the HOA will start acting up when there are houses that don’t cut their lawns like they are supposed to, or if there is a home that has a bunch of junk that they need to get rid of, which they choose to just leave on the front lawn for extended periods of time, seemingly with no intention of ever addressing it. Although you might rather want to have that money in your pocket, having an organization ensuring these things help make sure that the neighborhood stays attractive, which in turn can help drive up property values, meaning you are in fact just investing in keeping everything running properly. A good HOA will also be able to offer so much value to the residents from the services that it offers that it actually means the house prices will increase so much that the HOA is a good investment. In addition to that they may also be responsible for keeping community areas clean and available, such as maintaining a community pool that the residents can use. 

The agent of the seller will also be able to tell you some things about the asking price and whether or not they compare to those of the surrounding houses and comps. Although house prices currently seem to be going nowhere but up, a mortgage lender will use an appraisal in order to justify the loan that you will be receiving for a home, and that appraisal is largely based on what other houses in the area have sold for, commonly referred to as comps. If the house is for sale for a lot more than neighboring houses, you will end up having to put down a bigger down payment, as mortgage lenders commonly won’t loan you more money than the house is appraised for. While sellers want to get as much money for their house as possible, it is usually a common struggle between seller and real estate agent to find the price that means the seller isn’t leaving too much money on the table, while still finding a price that allows the agent to attract potential buyers and get offers on the house, which is significantly harder if the house has been listed at too high a price. 

Going along the same line, you may want to ask the agent how long the house has been on the market, and what the median home values are in the same neighborhood. Those questions will also help you better understand if the seller is potentially asking for too much money. If the house is a lot more expensive than the neighboring houses, it may either be warranted or not, if it has the square footage and upgrades that all the neighbors are jealous of, but if that’s the case, you may still have issues selling the home in the future when you choose to move out of it, too, and then you may be the family that ends up spending months trying to get rid of a house that simply doesn’t match the neighborhood that it is in. If the house has been on the market for a long time, it could indicate that the price is either too high, or that there simply aren’t a lot of people interested in the features that it offers. Both of those cases aren’t great for you. The good thing about a home that may have been on the market longer than homes usually do in that specific market, is that the sellers may be starting to consider offers that are lower than those they might have wanted to consider right as it was listed. On the other hand, it could also indicate that there are issues with the house. If there are issues and the seller has previously received offers on it but they never managed to close with the buyers’ contingencies, you should start looking at whether it was warranted that the sale never went through. Perhaps the house is suffering from structural issues or other things that could have made previous buyers very reluctant with regards to buying the house, or it could have caused a potential sale to fall through in the 11th hour. If you’re buying a home that you know has a bunch of issues, it is important that you make sure you are the right person to undertake such a project and that you’ll know how to address them, and have the necessary budget to deal with the issues as well. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen would be if you were to buy a house not knowing what you are getting yourself into, just to realize that it has so many more issues than you are willing to start dealing with, at which point you may just end up with a home that you can basically never get rid of again, and even if someone is willing to take it off your hands eventually, you could end up losing money on the deal.

While there are so many things to consider when buying a home, these are just some of the questions you should consider asking.

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