Most of us know that it’s a good idea to shore up our credit a few months before starting to house hunt and that it is smart to use a professional agent and get pre-approved for a loan. But there are questions many homebuyers don’t think of asking, questions that often go unanswered during the exciting process of purchasing a new home. Here are a few of them.
What do you really want in a home?
You’ve already determined your price range and what neighborhoods are most convenient in terms of proximity to work and social activities. Make a list of amenities that are must haves and stick to them. And remember, even if you don’t plan on children, the quality of the school district can affect resale values.
How long has the home been on the market?
Find out how long a potential home has been on the market. A home that has been listed for six months or more is more likely to have an owner flexible on the asking price.
Has the home had problems selling?
Were there other offers that fell through? If so, find out why. It could be that the previous buyer had financing problems, but it could also be that something turned up in the home inspection, indicating a problem you might not want to deal with either.
What is the home’s condition?
How old is the home, and what condition is it in? Remember that most sellers have done everything they can reasonably do to spruce up their home for sale. If you can see wear and tear on the house, it could be a red flag. Other red flags include signs of rust, mold or water leaks.
How new are the essentials?
How new are some of the critical working parts of the home? If you aren’t buying new, it’s a good idea to find out how old the pipes are and what they are made of. You should also find out the age of the water heater (they typically only last about 10 years) and the furnace. If the appliances are being sold with the home, their age could be a factor as well.
What will your actual payment be?
In addition to the sales price, ask about any additional fees such as association fees and property taxes. These monthly or yearly payments need to be factored into your potential overall monthly payment.
Have there been special assessments?
If you are considering a condo or townhome, be sure to find out if there has been a history of special assessments and why. It’s important that your association has healthy reserves so that future repairs and maintenance won’t require sudden and unexpected fees or special assessments that you would be required to pay.
Does anyone else have access?
Zoning and easement issues are often initially overlooked. Find out if there are any easements on the property, giving a third party certain rights. You’ll want to know before you buy if a neighbor has the right to access a section of your property or if a utility company can place structures on your land.
Is noise an issue?
Finally, don’t forget about the noise factor. Drive by on weekdays and weekends at varying times of the day to get a sense of what the neighbors are like and whether or not, for example, you can hear the high school band practicing at 6 a.m. If the home shares a wall with another residence. like a duplex or condo, make sure you visit when the neighbors are home so you know how much noise you will hear when you live there. The more you know about your future home, the more likely you are to have a haven that truly suits your lifestyle and your future plans.
This article originally appeared on the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties.