6 Questions Home Buyers Should Ask
When you buy a home you trust the sellers to be open and honest about what they are offering for sale. In fact, there are certain things the law generally requires them to disclose. Those things can vary from state to state, so working with a real estate agent to ensure the purchase of a safe, quality home is important.
But there are still some things you will want to ask about potential homes. Investigating those areas of concern can help determine whether the home is really a good buy, or if there are issues you won't want to deal with.
1) How Much are the Bills?
The bills for water, gas, electricity, and other necessities may be much higher or lower than would be expected for the size of the home. While not all utility companies will provide information, many will at least offer the highest and lowest amounts the bill has been for the last 12 months. That can provide a good idea of the overall costs.
2) Has There Ever Been Water Damage?
Sellers are typically supposed to disclose problems with flooding, but they might not be aware of water damage in some situations. If it was a one-time occurrence and there's no major damage, they may not have noticed. You can check for insurance claims on the property and for drainage issues, to help reduce risk. Getting an inspection will also help identify any cause for concern.
3) Are There any Noisy Neighbors?
This is a very subjective issue. Some people are bothered by noise more than others, so it may or may not be a problem for you. Check out the house at different times and get a true feel for the neighborhood and the noise level of any neighbors before committing to buy. It's better to hear the noise levels yourself, because the owner could either be overly bothered by something you perceive as a normal amount of noise, or completely okay with music playing loudly at night.
4) Are There Roaming or Feral Animals?
Stray dogs on your property or feral cats digging up flower beds can be a real problem. Even with a fenced yard, this can still be an issue. And if the neighbor feeds them or otherwise encourages the behavior, there could be deer, raccoons, and all sorts of other creatures around. This is less likely in a big city, but can sometimes be an issue in smaller towns and suburbs.
Sit down with your seller and ask about this, and if there are any measures they or their neighbors have taken to keep their properties critter-free.
5) Are There any Plumbing Issues?
Plumbing issues should be discovered during a home inspection. Keep in mind that sellers may metaphorically put a band-aid over something instead of fixing it correctly, so you may want to run faucets and look for any drainage problems each time you visit the home.
6) How Much Noise is There From Traffic/Trains/Planes?
While people can get used to a lot of things, getting used to those things can and does take time. Much like the subjectivity of determining if the neighbors are too noisy, only you can decide if it's something you can adjust to, or if it will be a problem. Again, try to take a trip up to the property at different times and aim to hear what the noise level is outside and inside the home.
If you're worried about having all the right questions at the right times, remember that your real estate agent is there to help you every step of the way. They will have the experience to know what issues to avoid and what to ask before committing to the home's purchase.