9 Key Questions to Ask When Buying a House

Young happy couple receiving house keys from real estate agent. Giving keys of new house to young couple. Smiling couple signing financial contract for mortgage.

According to Trulia, a real estate website, 44% of American homeowners have buyer’s remorse. Lack of knowledge during the decision process was the primary reason these homeowners felt regret. 

With the right tools and knowledge of this industry you can avoid becoming part of this statistic. 

So, what are the most important questions to ask when buying a house? This guide outlines nine key questions to consider before making the biggest purchase of your life.

1. What’s Your Total Budget? 

Before you can begin looking at houses, you must determine your total budget. These fees will include factors outside of the property itself including:

  • Property taxes
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Homeowner’s association dues
  • Maintenance costs
  • Future renovations

This is one of the most important home buying questions as it sets the stage for the rest of the home buying process. Another key step when determining your budget is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. 

This shows the buyer that you are financially capable of purchasing their home and reassures the realtor that they are showing you homes within your means. 

2. What Is Included in the Sale? 

Asking this question upfront eliminates any confusion between you and the seller regarding items sold with the house. In most cases, facets, cabinets and heaters are included in the sale. 

If you’re interested in purchasing additional appliances or items you can ask the seller if they’re willing to negotiate. All additional items should be documented within the sales agreement to ensure that both parties understand the terms of sale.

3. How Much Are Utilities? 

Knowing the cost of monthly utilities will help determine if a home fits into your total budget. You should ask about individual and combined costs of utilities such as cooling, heating, electric and internet fees. 

The seller’s answer will give you insight into whether or not you will be able to comfortably afford the home. Additionally, this information can help you plan a payment schedule that factors in emergency fees. 

4. Why Is the Seller Leaving? 

Getting an answer to this question may be difficult as the seller’s answer may not be entirely truthful. The answer you receive will help you determine how flexible the seller is when negotiating the price of the home. 

If they are looking to sell the home quickly due to a job relocation, they may be more willing to accept a lower offer. Alternatively, if the seller isn’t in a rush to move, you may find it more difficult to negotiate selling terms.

5. How Long Has the Home Been on the Market? 

A key part of knowing how to buy a house is learning how to negotiate. With the right information, you can work with the seller to land on terms you both agree with. 

Sellers of homes that have been on the market for a while are more likely to negotiate with you on various aspects of the home. Some of these features include:

  • Overall price
  • Contingencies
  • Replacing noticeably outdated features (e.g., carpets, cabinets)

Quite often homes are put on the market at a price higher than most buyers are willing to pay. As a result, a home may undergo multiple price cuts to give buyers more incentive.

Price cuts typically have the opposite effect and convince buyers that there is something wrong with the home. As a buyer, you can use this opportunity to work with the seller to negotiate on aspects of the home. 

6. Have There Been Any Issues With the Home? 

A seller is likely to give you an honest answer to this question regarding plumbing or roof issues. Their response can help give you insight into issues that may arise down the line or reveal issues a home inspection may miss. 

Asking the seller directly if there have been any issues with the home will only give you an idea about recent incidents. To get a more comprehensive idea of a home’s history, consider asking the seller for a Comprehensive Loss underwriting Exchange Report. 

This report can only be obtained by the seller or homeowner. Its report indicates more detail on any incidents with the home within the past seven years.

7. How Reliable Is Your Mortgage Broker? 

Throughout the home buying process, you should make sure that your mortgage broker is a reliable source. They can help you choose a mortgage program and become the main source of contact with your lender. 

Your mortgage broker is responsible for completing and submitting all necessary documents during the sale. Without their trusted service, closure on your home will likely be prolonged and cause unnecessary frustration. 

8. What Is the Neighborhood Like? 

Depending on the seller the answer to this question may not be that honest. Sellers may be apprehensive to disclose negative aspects of the neighborhood. For this reason, you should focus on conducting your own research. 

A quick online search can reveal crime statistics of the neighborhood. Additionally, the seller will be able to give you information that a Google search cannot. 

Sellers who have genuinely enjoyed living in that neighborhood will usually tell you what its energy is like. A positive review only helps their chance at selling.

With this in mind, a short response may be an indicator that the seller has had unpleasant experiences with their neighbors. Their response, and the research you conduct, will help form a clearer picture of the type of neighborhood a home is in.

9. Are There Other Offers?

Posing this question to the sellers is a risky yet rewarding gamble. It’s unlikely that they’ll tell you directly if they have received other offers however, their agent may disclose that information to yours. 

Gathering this information puts you in a prime spot when beating out other potential buyers. You can then use this information to prepare a counteroffer if necessary. 

Questions to Ask When Buying a House: A Summary

Although there is an endless amount of questions to ask when buying a house, starting with these nine is a good place to start. The responses you receive can help build a framework for finding a new house to call your home. 

Our site provides plenty of resources in varying niches to help answer your most pressing questions. You can find more information on the home buying process by visiting the home and garden section of our blog!

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