If you are thinking about buying a home, you are not alone. According to the New York Times, more Americans are getting home buying fever; home prices have seen the biggest increase in the past seven years over the the past month, in all 20 cities in the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index. The latest report is building on a three month sustained increase.
With all of this good news about the housing industry, prices are inching up but mortgage interest rates remain low, making this an ideal time to make the transition to homeowner.
As you gear up to find a home and prepare for the home-buying process, you might already have a list of questions to ask a real estate agent to make sure you’re getting the best deal. But you also shouldn’t forget to post the hard-hitting questions to others, too, from the previous homeowners to the neighbors, and even yourself.
Go Banking Rates has the perfect home buying guide with 10 of the most important — but often forgotten – questions to ask when buying a house.
Home Buying Guide to What Questions to Ask When Buying a House
#1. Is renting vs. buying a better option?
Before you spend too much time looking for your dream home, you need to weigh all your options. David Bakke from the website Moneycrashers.com suggests you ask yourself the question, “Is renting vs. home buying a better option?” Depending on your situation, you may not be ready to buy, may need some time to save for a down payment, or may live in a more expensive housing market.
“If you have a lot of debt, a low credit score, or don’t have much money saved up, renting may be a better option,” advises Bakke. Someone with these factors may have to wait a few more years to be in a better financial situation before they are able to obtain a mortgage loan.
#2. What is the neighborhood’s crime rate?
The second thing regarding what questions to ask when buying a house is the safety of your neighborhood and town. David Bakke sums it up great, “What is the crime rate in the area?”
#3. What are my home ‘needs’ and ‘wants’?
According to Steve Aaron, a Beverly Hills realtor featured on HGTV’s “Selling LA,” “No property is perfect. What are your ‘deal breakers’ vs. your wants. Where are you willing and able to compromise?” The point here is to have a shorter check-list of “must-haves” when looking at potential homes.
#4. Where is the seller’s disclosure?
#5. Can I make the needed home renovations or additions?
If you are looking to add on to your home or do renovations, it is wise to check the house’s zoning or area disclosure. Steven Aaron told me, “Know if the property is located in any type of historic or preservation area or area disclosure. There may be limits on adding on, aesthetics etc.”
Based on my personal experience from litigation and headaches caused by neighbors, homeowners’ associations and local, state and federal government regulations, a little homework goes a long way. You should also look into your finance options to figure out how to pay for home renovations.
#6. What home inspections are available?
Have your home thoroughly inspected. Steven Aaron says, “You should perform as many inspections as possible in addition to a general.” Aaron recommends getting chimney, sewer line, pool/spa, geological and drainage inspections (where applicable). It’s worth the bit of extra time and effort to make sure you won’t have costly problems down the line.
#7. Why is the House for Sale?
Mr. Aaron points out an obvious, but often overlooked question:“What is the motivation of the seller?…Why are they selling?” He points out that by asking this question, “This may give you additional information that [is] helpful in writing an offer.” Sometimes the simplest questions often garner the most important information.
#8. Has the property been tested for radon?
Bill Redfern, founder and CEO of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections recommends asking, “Has this home had a radon test recently?” Having a potential home inspected for radon can be a literal life saver; according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer.
#9. Are smoke detectors properly installed and located?
Redfern also recommends checking the smoke detectors of any home you’re interested in purchasing. One of his questions to ask when buying a house is, “Are smoke detectors in the right locations in this home?” Don’t think if smoke detectors are put anywhere that they will be effective. Rather, he explains, “Smoke detectors save lives. It is important to put smoke detectors in the right places in your home – and you may not know if the home seller did that.”
#10. When was the last time this home had a mold inspection?
Mold can be a health hazard causing itchy eyes to permanent lung damage. Bill Redfern recommends to make sure the house is free of mold by asking, “When was the last time this home had a mold inspection?” Finding out when there was a mold inspection enables you to see the home’s history and determine if you want to proceed to making an offer and securing a mortgage loan for the home. If there is mold present, it will also help you determine how and by whom it will be taken care of.