Common Real Estate Questions Asked by Buyers
Unless you’re planning to buy a Learjet or a Lamborghini, a house will be the priciest investment you’ll ever make. You may be smitten with a home and tempted to grab a pen and sign your firstborn away.
However, purchasing a house involves more than a smile and a handshake.
Once you’ve committed to buying a property, you can’t just return or exchange it if you change your mind. The process can be daunting without guidance and clarity. Asking questions will educate you. You’ll gain peace of mind and confidence with awareness of the procedures. You’ll thwart the overwhelm that consumes many home buyers.
There is no shame in asking what you believe is a simple question. If you don’t ask it you may pay for it later. Here are 5 common real estate questions to help make sense of purchasing a home:
HOW NOISY IS THE NEIGHBORHOOD?
A neighborhood which seems idyllic during the day may erupt into cacophony at night. Weekend sounds may batter your ears. Do your potential neighbors blare music at all hours? Do kids drive by blasting thunderous rap music? How about an airport? Will jet engines be rattling you out of bed? The only way to know is to drive by during the day, night and weekend. A good recipe for misery is purchasing a house without knowing the auditory assault you may be in for.
WHAT’S THE CONDITION OF THE ROOF?
A roof can be dangerous if it’s in bad shape. Find out how old the roof is. Typically, roofs last 20-25 years. Has it been marred in the past? How often was it inspected? Has it ever leaked? Be sure to ask about the gutters, as well. Are they dented? Rusted? Broken? The Remodeling Impact Report, published by the National Association of Realtors, places roof replacement costs at $7,500. Tack on $5,000 for gutters. You don’t want to be the one paying for them.
DOES THE AREA HAVE MUCH CRIME?
No locale is immune to crime -- even Beverly Hills. Research your prospective neighborhood to see how crime has affected it.
- Sex Offenders -- Do any live in your area? Megan’s Law decrees that sex offenders record their home address with law enforcement, and also make it publicly available. You can enter your address into sites such as Parents for Megan’s Law to see if these predators live near you.
- Drugs -- If your prospective home was used for the manufacture of drugs, it could pose serious health consequences. The sellers aren’t legally obligated to divulge this information. Take matters into your own hands by searching the Federal Drug Enforcement Association’s Clandestine Laboratory Registry.
- Types of Crimes Committed -- A neighborhood that seems as peaceful as Mayberry in daylight may be downright dangerous after dark. It may be relatively peaceful, yet have regular violent crime spikes. This information can determine whether to buy the house, park your car in the driveway or install outdoor cameras -- another expense.
WHAT ARE THE MONTHLY UTILITY COSTS?
Utility costs jolt many buyers. It’s an expense they underestimate. Utilities can hover at $200 a month or ratchet past $600. These expenses could gouge your budget if you haven’t accounted for them. Determine the median monthly cost, not the lowest amount. Determine the months when energy usage spiked. You can ask your realtor to obtain bills from the last 12 months from the current owner so you can study concrete numbers for power usage. Factor in cash outlays for water, trash and Internet services.
WHAT SHOULD I DO DURING THE WALK-THROUGH?
The walk-through is not a time to ponder where the loveseat will go or which set of towels would look cutest in the bathroom. The walk-though is your opportunity to inspect practical aspects of the house and determinewhether or not it is in acceptable condition. Here are some things to do:
- Flush toilets
- Open and close doors and windows
- Turn lights on and off
- Run water in kitchen, bathroom, basement, outside spigots. Check for leaks under sinks.
- Test garbage disposal and exhaust fans
When buying a house, it’s best to temper infatuation with information. Purchasing a house is huge financial undertaking which requires level-headed consideration of facts and figures. These five questions, commonly asked by buyers, will lay a foundation for acquiring your dream house.