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Questions to Ask Sellers When Looking at Houses to Buy

There are many details involved in determining the right house to buy, and these details actually communicate the overall quality of a house to you.

  1. Why are you selling?: There are many factors that can create a need for someone to move. Depending on the reason, the seller may be willing to accept a lower offer if it means they can move out more quickly.
  2. How long has the home been on the market?: Once again, putting in a lower offer could mean acceptance in this scenario. There could possibly be also something wrong with it if it’s been on the market for a while, but many times it’s simply the fact that it’s over-priced.
  3. When did you buy the home, and for how much?: This will let you know if property values have gone up or down in the local market since they bought the house. Also, it will let you know how open they might be to negotiation; if they got a good deal on the house, they may be more open to accepting a lower offer, compared to if they spent a lot on the house.
  4. What’s included in the sale?: Anything that’s attached to the house is considered a “fixture” and is included with the sale of the house if you buy it. When in doubt, ask and get the answer in writing.
  5. Is there anything wrong with the house?: Although you should find out everything in disclosures and the inspection, it’s nice to know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand.
  6. Has the house had any repairs or major renovations; if so, who did them?: Past problems can create present or future problems. Also, you need to know what past projects you should receive building permits for. You also need to know if the changed made to the house were DIY or performed by a licensed contractor.
  7. How old is the roof?: A typical asphalt roof lasts around 15-20 years. If the lifespan on this one is almost up, then you’ll be putting down a chunk of money in the near future.
  8. What’s the age of the wiring?: Depending on the age of the house, wiring can be dangerous if it hasn’t been replaced in a while (and costly at that).
  9. What’s the age of the windows; will they need to be replaced?: Old windows can have a huge impact on energy bills. Replacing windows is expensive, but it’s probably better to know about in the long run.
  10. Are there issues with the home’s foundation?: This is an important thing to know, because the structural integrity is one of the key elements of a home.
  11. Is there obvious water damage?: If there’s a basement, you can check it out to see if you think there’s been water; if it’s carpeted and doesn’t smell musty, it’s probably never had water damage, but if the utilities are raised off the ground, then it may have had damage in the past.
  12. What’s the current quality of the sewer system?: If there’s anything wrong, the homeowner (not the city) pays to fix it. Looking at the condition of the sewer lines aren’t typically part of a home inspection, so it may be good to get them checked out.
  13. Have insurance claims been made on the home?: This also lets you find out if there have been any past problems with the house. Also, if there’s a stream, creek, etc. near the house, you need to know if you’ll need flood insurance before you buy it.
  14. Where are the trees located around the house; what’s their quality?: Are any rotted, dead, and/or have the possible of falling onto your house in a storm? Will any of them block out the sun too much?
  15. Are there any current or past pest problems?: Ask, and also look around inside cabinets and moist places for pests and their traces.
  16. Does the ground slope away from the house?: The grading of your house is important; it affects the direction of the water flow around your home. Too much water directed towards the house=bad.
  17. What are the neighbors like; are there any neighborhood problems?: Bad neighbors, traffic problems, bad maintenance, bright lights, and more can all be advantageous to know about before you buy it. You can even talk to a few neighbors to gather more information about these things.
  18. Have there been break-ins in the neighborhood; if so, have you seen an increase?: Always good to know. Also important when determining if you’d need an alarm system.
  19. How much are the utilities for the house?: Sure, your usage will be different, but you can probably get a ballpark figure, and discern how many bills to expect.
  20. What surprised you when you moved in?: Because even if it’s a pleasant surprise, it’s still beneficial to know.
  21. What do you enjoy most about living here?: You’ll probably hear a perspective on something about the house or community that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
  22. Is there anything I/we forgot to ask?: This of course gives them a chance to tell you what you wouldn’t have thought or have known to ask.

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