5 Vital Questions to Ask When House Hunting

by Connie Mei · 5 comments

Buying a house can be a very stressful process. Not only is it a very personal decision for you and your family, but it’s also a huge investment that can affect your financial future for many years to come.

Depending on where you live, it can be a seller’s market. Which means the supply is low but demand is high, and this gives sellers a great advantage.

During a seller’s marketplace, I’ve personally seen buyers make offers on properties the day they’re put on the market, without doing much research or thinking it through.

While you may need to act fast to get your dream home, you still need to do your homework. When compiling your list of house must-haves for your realtor, be sure to include these 5 questions, too.

1. What are the comparable sales in the area?

If you’re ready to make an offer, a realtor may  not be the best person to help when it comes to deciding on an offer price. This is something you need to have the final say in, since it’s your budget where’s talking about here.

However, they can help you pull comparable sales in the area so you can gauge the property’s value. Ask your realtor to pull up comps in the same neighborhood for properties that sold within the past 3 months to a year.

This will allow you to make an informed and strong offer to the seller’s to purchase their home at a price you feel comfortable with, but that’s also a good value.

How long has this property been on the market?

If you don’t already know, you should always ask how long the property has been on the market, along with how long similar properties are on the market before they sell.

If the property has just been listed, you probably won’t get anywhere giving them a low offer, since the seller’s aren’t as motivated to sell. They’ll want to test the market and get a few more offers before coming down on the price.

On the flip side, if the property has been on the market for a while and hasn’t had any offers, the owners might be eager to sell and willing to negotiate. So it’s important to know what kind of bargaining chip you have as a buyer.

Why is the owner selling the property?

Finding out why the owner is selling the property can be a very helpful piece of information, particularly as it relates to the question above.

Not all realtors are willing to share this information but it doesn’t hurt to ask. For example; if the owner needs to move out of town immediately, you might be able to discuss the price with him/her.

This is also an important question since it will give you some background on the home, the condition it’s in, the history of ownership and many other vital details.

When was this home last renovated?

Unless you’re buying a new construction, it’s smart to find out when the home was last renovated. It might already be obvious but sometimes it isn’t. Even then it’s good to verify.

If it’s been quite a few years since the last renovation, you’ll likely have to pay a bit more money for upkeep and maintenance on the home. Or even put more money into renovating it yourself.

The answer to this question will help you estimate when you might need to renovate again and approximately how much the added cost will be.

What is the neighborhood like?

Finally, ask what the neighborhood is like. Maybe even take a short walk around the block to get a feel for the atmosphere and other people who live there.

Why? Because there are some things Google won’t be able to tell you. Like how the neighbors are. What kind of schools are in the area. Is this area family-friendly? Most realtors are very familiar with the area they work in and can easily answer these questions.

While finding the right home can be very overwhelming, asking the right questions can help you make better, more informed decisions.

What’s another question that should be discussed with a realtor before purchasing a home?

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  • Georgi says:

    Great article. This questions are relevant, but what about “Can we get it cheaper?” 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    And don’t forget to ask if it is haunted! 🙂

  • LastPlot says:

    One question that I would ask is how the house’s price compares with others in the neighborhood. If the price is too low or too high, that raises a red flag for me.

  • A big factor for us when we bought our house 2 years ago was commute time to our jobs. Initially we were interested in houses outside of the city, but when we drove the commute at rush hour and realized it would take us upwards of an hour, we quickly changed our search to the city.

    We ended up buying a house in the city that my husband can bike to work from and I just have a quick 20 minute drive. I’m really glad we did that test run during rush hour–saved us years of nightmare commutes!

  • Ramona says:

    We never had to buy a house so far, but these questions make a lot of sense. They allow you to know how the market looks and also what’s the history of that house (very important, too).

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