Shopping for a house is exciting and, especially for new home buyers, can be nerve wracking, too. Here are the top 10 questions to ask when buying a home.
There’s nothing quite like the ramp-up to homeownership, where excitement about what’s to come and nerves about everything you may or may not be able to anticipate seem to jockey for your attention every day.
You’ll have a list of things to consider when it comes to your finances, but what about for the property itself? Here are 10 of the questions we recommend each of our potential buyers ask:
WHEN WAS THE PROPERTY BUILT?
Every system and structure—from foundation to roof and everything in between—has a life span. Knowing the age of your potential home can help you gauge the maintenance expenses you’re likely to face in the coming 5 or so years. The older the home, the more you’re likely to need to invest in essential upkeep and/or renovation. TIP: if it’s possible to get the original house plans, that could be a treasure trove of valuable information down the line!
WHAT RENOVATIONS OR MAJOR WORK HAS BEEN DONE?
Older homes have often had many rounds of repairs and/or renovations, and potentially by multiple owners. Understanding what updates or repairs have been made can, again, suggest where you may not have to make investments in the near future (assuming you like what’s been done). If major work has been required it’s helpful to know so you (and your inspector) can look more closely and make sure it’s holding up well.
WHY ARE THE OWNERS MOVING?
Often people move because of a change of job, or life stage. And knowing what’s driving their decision can help you get a sense of how quickly they want to make their move—and thus how motivated to sell they’ll be!
IS THE PROPERTY IN A FLOOD OR DISASTER ZONE?
Being in a known natural disaster area is likely to carry additional and/or higher insurance rates. FEMA has a Flood Map Service that can tell you if your property is in a high-risk area.
HOW OLD IS THE ROOF? HVAC SYSTEM? WATER HEATER?
These are among the costlier expenses of home maintenance, and their life span is fairly predictable. Each of these typically need replacement roughly every 15-20 years. Right now, the market being as competitive as it is, many houses are being sold as-is so it’s especially important to factor replacement costs into your home-buying calculations.
WHAT INSURANCE CLAIMS ARE IN THE PROPERTY’S HISTORY?
Know what you’re getting into! Like reports of auto claim history, home repair history is important, so get at the facts. The homeowner is required to disclose any known problems or defects, but an additional resource is available through the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or C.L.U.E.. (Note that this shows history by owner, so if the home has had more than one owner in the past 7 years, you’ll need to look up the other owners’ history too.)
WHAT’S THE NEIGHBORHOOD LIKE?
Moving into a new area can be daunting. You want to have an idea of whether your desired lifestyle will mesh with others nearby. Take some time to walk or drive the neighborhood; visit local stores and chat with people in the area to get a feel for the personality of the community. Browse social media and/or town and local business websites, too.
WHAT LOCAL CONSTRUCTION IS PLANNED?
In the Raleigh area, there seems to be some sort of construction just about everywhere, but there are some areas more in flux than others. In addition to doing some research into your neighborhood, take a look at what’s being planned on a slightly large scale. Plans for developments, greenways, parks, schools, and even road work are readily available at every town website, and/or for Wake County overall.
WHAT ARE THE AVERAGE UTILITY COSTS?
Is there room for energy-efficiency improvement? While you’re assembling your anticipated costs of ownership, find out what the utility costs are: water and sewer, electric and gas/propane. Are the appliances EnergyStar-rated? Does the home have solar (or could it be a good candidate)? Is it insulated? Are the windows an asset or is the heating/cooling cash leaking out from them?
WHAT’S BEING INCLUDED IN THE SALE?
There are some “fixtures” that you can expect to remain with the house. If you’re moving from out of state, it’s important to know what’s considered a fixture in North Carolina, because these can vary by state. Refrigerators, for instance, are considered personal property here—but that’s not the case in some other states. Curtain rods and blinds are too, but not the curtains themselves! A built-in microwave? A fixture. Countertop microwave? Not a fixture. Of course, just about anything is up for negotiation, so if there’s something you’d like that wouldn’t normally transfer, consider asking your real estate broker to put it into the offer.
These questions will help you start to make decisions, but we can help you think of many more! If you’re starting your buying journey, give us a call—we’d love to help yours be a success.