A property listing may give you a general idea of a home’s condition, but when you are considering putting in an offer, you’ll want to dig a little deeper. When you attend an open house, you have a great opportunity to ask the agent and potentially the seller some important questions that will give you a more in-depth understanding of the property and what you’d be taking on should your offer be accepted.
Why is the house for sale?
Why do sellers want to move? There is a myriad of reasons why the current owners may be choosing to move. It could be a new job opportunity or to move closer to family. Potentially, the seller could be unhappy with the home. Understanding the reasons why the current homeowner is choosing to sell can give you important context. It may point out any issues with the home or neighborhood and provide important information for submitting an offer.
How long has the home been on the market?
Knowing how long a home has been on the market is vital information when you are considering putting in an offer. You can typically find this information online, but it is helpful to get context. Perhaps it has just been listed and they have had a lot of interest and expect it to sell quickly. A home that has been on the market for a long time could mean several things. It’s possible a previous offer fell through, or it may hint toward a bigger issue, like a problem with the house or a seller who is unwilling to negotiate. A lengthy stay on the market may also give you more negotiating power. Sellers are often more receptive to offers or negotiating on other aspects if they are struggling to sell the home.
How many offers have been made on the property?
You will want to know if there are any current offers on the table. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the running, but if you’re going up against other buyers, you will be able to craft an offer that may set you apart. If you aren’t bidding against others, you may be able to present a lower offer.
What is the seller’s timeline?
Timing can play a crucial role in a sale. Perhaps the seller is moving because of a job offer or a similar time-sensitive reason. If they are looking to make a quick sale, you may have a bit more room for negotiation on price. The more information you have about the seller and their needs, the more likely you will be able to present an offer that is appealing to the seller and may well get you a better deal.
What testing has been done?
You will want to investigate if there are any issues with the home, and what kind of testing has been done. Be sure to ask for any hazardous material test results such as mold, asbestos, or lead. If the seller has not completed the necessary tests, consider negotiating for them to be done before closing. Otherwise, you may come upon a few significant expenses you may not have budgeted for.
Have there been any updates or renovations to the home?
As a buyer, you should understand the home’s past renovation history. This will give you a decent picture of the overall condition of the property and if any major repairs or replacements you’ll need to consider. Ask whether any renovations were DIY projects or professionally done and if proper permits were obtained. To be safe, you’ll always want to get a professional home inspection before closing on the property. This will inform you of any existing issues.
How much do utilities typically cost?
You need to factor in as many costs as possible before making an offer. This includes utilities. Ask what kind of energy the home uses – electric, natural gas, solar, or a combination. Ask about heating and cooling systems and an estimate of monthly utility costs. The more you know about the home’s expenses, the better you can plan your budget.
What comes with the house?
Anything that isn’t physically attached to the house is not going to necessarily be included in the sale. Things like refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves won’t always come with the home. Be sure to ask what is included in the sale and if there is anything they would be willing to include for a price. Knowing if you will need to buy appliances or other major house fixtures will help you plan your move-in costs.
Is there a homeowners association?
Be sure to ask if there is a homeowners association
(HOA). These are common in many suburban neighborhoods. HOA’s mean certain rules, regulations, and fees for residents who live there. They can make a neighborhood pleasant to live in, but can also add extra costs and restrict things like landscaping or the look of the exterior of the home. If there happens to be an HOA, ask about member dues and about the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions), and what amenities these pay for.
What is the neighborhood like?
Finding a home that you love and fits your budgetary needs is one thing. You also want to make sure you’ll enjoy living in the neighborhood it’s located in. Ask the seller and/or agent about the community and surrounding neighborhood. Discovering the area’s demographics and amenities will help you decide if the neighborhood is a good fit for you and your family. Is it kid-friendly? Are there walkable restaurants and businesses? Are there nearby parks, playgrounds, trails, or dog parks? Is it a tight-knit community or do neighbors tend to do their own thing? Depending on your priorities, a particular neighborhood may fit better than another.
Can I picture myself living here?
Maybe the most important question is one you have to ask yourself. After learning everything you can about the property and neighborhood, can you see yourself living there? Everyone has different priorities when it comes to their home and lifestyle. Does this new property meet yours? Imagine what your life will look like if you were to move in. After you’ve answered all the other questions, this visualization will give you the clarity you need to proceed.
If you’re considering a move, get in touch
with us today and we’ll help you answer all these questions and more.