5 Questions You Need To Ask Before Buying A House

by Connie Mei · 10 comments

buying a homeFor most Americans, the dream is to ultimately own a home. Purchasing property is a right of passage of sorts. It’s a big step into adulthood and probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. That’s all the more reason why you should thoroughly do your research and ask plenty of questions before you take this big step.

Before making a formal offer, it’s crucial to ask all the possible questions you can. Purchasing a home is a big investment and you don’t want to see your investment tank after you’ve already put your life savings into it. If you’re planning on buying a house, take a look at these questions you need to ask:

How Long Has This Property Been on the Market?

You’ve found the perfect home and you want to put in a offer as soon as possible. But not so fast. How long has this property been on the market? This is a question you should always ask the sales agent. You can also easily find out online just to double check that the agent is telling the truth. While this can be dependent on the housing market in your location in general, a home that has been on a market for months can indicate that something is undesirable about the property.

How Flexible Are the Owners With the Price?

Pricing is obviously one of the most important factors when buying a home. And while you might not get an honest answer, you should ask the sales agent how flexible they are with the price. They’ll never tell you how low they are willing to go but you might get some interesting tidbits of information, such as whether or not they are in a rush to sell. Price isn’t the only area where flexibility matters either. Learning a bit about the owners can also give you a glimpse of how easy or hard they are to deal with if escrow opens. Repairs, concessions, and more are par for the course during the due diligence period and being able to work out the details with reasonable sellers will make the buying process much smoother.

Why Are the Owners Selling?

Owners sell property for a variety of reason, and it never hurts to ask why. Often times, they’ll tell you that they’ve outgrown their home or need to relocate for work. But sometimes their reasons for moving might be red flags for you. For instance, if they’re selling because they want to be in a better school district for their kids, you might need to consider that as well if you have a family of your own.

What is Exactly Included in the Sale?

Make sure your understand exactly what is included in the sale before you finalize the contract. That includes appliances, lighting fixtures, and even furniture. These stipulations should be included in the contract so that there is no confusion of who gets what. While it may seem like a small amount, debating over property inside a property are very common and the back and forth often holds up the sale.

What Can You Actually Afford?

This should go without saying but don’t buy a home that turns out to be too expensive. Unfortunately, buyers getting in way over their heads happen way more often than most people care to admit. That’s because sales agents has an incentive to show you a nicer home than what your budget comfortably allows. It’s not only because they get a fatter commission off a higher price sale either. More expensive homes, no surprise, tend to be a little nicer and that can push buyers to want to close more quickly.

Always examine your finances carefully before you ever talk to an agent to see what you and your loved ones can afford to buy. Work out the numbers with a mortgage agent based on the interest rate you can lock in and only then should you go shopping.

Buying a home is a big investment so make sure you thoroughly do your homework. Do as much research as you can but at the same time, ask as many questions as you can as well. You might not always get the answer you want but the more information you have, the better decision you can make.

What did you wish you knew before buying your home?

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  • Arturo says:

    Exactly. Buying a house is one of the most important decisions you will have to take in your life. You have to search for information and ask LOTS of question since that is the place you will be for a long time (or for the rest of your life).
    By the way, these useful questions can be used when you are about to buy any property (whether it is a house, a car, or something else) so good luck in your purchase!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      It’s amazing how little time people spend researching homes since that one decision can make such a huge difference in a household’s finances.

      Spend the time to do your homework and you may increase the trajectory of your wealth building significantly for the better.

  • Latoya says:

    That’s a good point about why they are selling and one I never really thought about. If they want their kids in a better district, you would bet I would want nine in one too!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Asking the agent is a good suggestion. Most of those sales people are talkative types, so he or she may end up offering pieces of info that can aid in the price negotiation too.

  • Kathryn says:

    There are so many other questions to ask on the financial side-
    -what is the market history and forecast for how much home prices are increasing in that area?,
    -how much are the sellers willing to pay toward closing costs?,
    -how much money would you need to put toward the home for renovations or updates?
    -what is the monthly payment, but also the interest rate that you can currently qualify for? (if you don’t have good credit, you may want to hold off until you repair it because that alone will save you thousands).

    We unfortunately bought our first home without considering most of the financial factors right before the market crash and after 10 years it still hasn’t reach back up to the original price we paid for it. I think the financial questions are too often overlooked.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Great additions Kathryn,

      After sale costs such as renovations, furniture, and even maintenance can run up the cost of home ownership substantially, but almost no one factors this in when they move.

      Sorry to hear that your house is still not quite back up to the purchase price yet, but hopefully you’ve been enjoying your home for the past decade.

  • Allan says:

    These are great questions. I particularly like the question of “why are they selling?”. This question can help the potential buyer negotiate the price lower.
    It’s always best to understand why the owners want to sell the house. If they say, that they need to move and don’t feel the need to keep the house, then, the potential buyer can have a leverage in reducing the price down, if the owner really wants to sell it.

    In addition, by asking this question, you know exactly the intention of the owner. If the owner is selling because he or she is experiencing problems with the house, then, the buyer can use that to reduce the price as well.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Anything can be used as a reason to negotiate the price lower, so talk with the realtor more when you meet him/her and gather as much information as you need BEFORE you submit the first offer.

  • Chris Fischer says:

    No realtor is going to allow a seller to answer this question honestly. In fact depending on the answer, telling you may violate federal fair housing laws, real estate agent ethics regs or both. It’s naive to even think you can get this question answered

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Realtors may have an incentive not to disclose anything that can negatively impact pricing, but plenty of realtors have announced why sellers are selling in open house tours that I’ve been on without me asking. Why don’t you think that realtors won’t answer this question honestly?

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