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When you’re buying a house, every detail matters. It can be especially hard to decide what house to buy when you’ve got your options narrowed down to a few good choices. Let these seven important questions to ask before buying a house help you make your decision. Your Realtor may already have much of this information ready for you, but it helps to have your list of questions handy so you don’t forget to ask anything. Take these questions with you to your next showing and you’ll be prepared to get all the information you need when buying your future home.

How old is the roof?

One of the largest expenses related to maintaining your home is the roof. It’s important to ask how old the roof is of the home you’re considering putting an offer on so that you can plan your finances accordingly. If you’re considering buying a 20 year old home, and the roof has never been replaced, it’s safe to say you’ll be buying a new roof in the very near future.

Asphalt shingle/composition roofs (the most common roofing material in the US) last on average 20 years, and may need replacing sooner than that depending on weather conditions where you live. According to Homeadvisor, the average cost to replace a roof ranges roughly from $5,500 to $11,600. By asking how old the roof is on the home you’re eyeing, you can know if you’ll need to start saving for a new one fairly quickly, or even see if your Realtor can negotiate a lower sales price or for a new roof to be installed as part of the sale.

What is the cost of utilities?

Knowing what you can expect to pay in utilities is an important thing to find out when purchasing a home. You don’t want to be sticker shocked when the first electric bill rolls around.

You should be able to get an average amount the previous homeowners paid in utilities for the past year. Ask your Realtor if this information isn’t already provided at the showing.

Knowing what you can expect to pay in utilities can help you plan for your total monthly housing expenses easier. It can also help you plan for energy efficient upgrades you may want to make in the future. 

What all is included in the sale?

What you see isn’t always what you get. You simply can’t assume that what you see when you view a house will end up being included in the sale. Major appliances like refrigerators and washing machines, for example, may be items the sellers want to take with them when they move.

This is another potential area of negotiation you can discuss with your Realtor. If your heart is set on the refrigerator staying with the house, for example, you can ask for it when you put in your offer. Sometimes sellers prefer to include those big ticket items as part of the sale – they may already have appliances where they’re moving, don’t want the hassle of packing the bulky items, etc. But sometimes they may also have their mind set on taking them with them when they move. The same applies to furniture. If the home is furnished when you view it, you may be able to negotiate some of it to stay with the house. Put simply, it never hurts to ask.

What is the neighborhood like?

If you’re moving to a new area, it’s important to work with a Realtor who knows the local neighborhoods well. They can give you expert advice on the best neighborhoods to suit your specific wants and needs. Don’t have a Realtor yet? For our best tips on finding a Realtor you can trust, click here.

Once you’ve found a home you’re interested in, be sure to ask what the neighborhood is like, and if there are any big development plans coming up (that are known of.) Ask about what amenities are available such as local parks, community spaces, etc. Be sure to find out if there are HOA dues you’ll be required to pay. See if you can get any information on what the neighbors are like as well. Do people tend to stay in the neighborhood, or do they move in and out frequently? Questions like these can help you get a better feel for what it would be like to actually live there.

How long has the house been for sale?

If a house has been listed for sale for a long time, that can be a red flag. Of course that isn’t always the case. A house may have been on the market for a while for lots of reasons – competition with other nearby homes for sale, it needs cosmetic upgrades, etc.

But if a house has been on the market for a long time, there could be some underlying issues that you need to know about. There may be problems (like structural damage, for example) revealed after inspections. Major issues like this would be very costly to fix, and could lead to issues with securing financing.

How much have other nearby homes sold for?

Knowing the answer to this question will help you determine if the seller is asking a fair asking price, and ultimately, if you’re getting a good deal. While every house is unique and has its own fair price, your prospective home should be in range with what other homes are selling for in your area. Your Realtor can pull data on similar listings over the past few months and compare them to the house you’re interested in. You can use this data to help negotiate the offer you’d like to place on the home.

How much will closing costs be?

While you won’t be able to know the exact number right away, your Realtor should be able to give you a good idea of how much closing costs would be on the house you’re interested in. For most homes, you can expect to pay between 2 and 5 percent of the total sales price. 

Both the sellers and the buyers have their share of closing costs to pay, and depending on the market in your area, you may be able to negotiate with the sellers to pay some of your costs. Visit with your Realtor to decide the best offer for your situation.

To learn more about the home buying process, click here.

Conclusion

Buying a home is a big decision, and knowing what questions to ask before buying a house can help you make the right choice. To recap, here are those questions again:

  • How old is the roof?
  • What is the cost of utilities?
  • What all is included in the sale?
  • What is the neighborhood like?
  • How long has the house been for sale?
  • How much have other homes nearby sold for?
  • How much will closing costs be?

Getting the answers to these questions can help you narrow down your house hunt, and know when to walk away from a house that’s not the best fit for you.

Are you looking for a home in the greater Sacramento area? Let Quantum Real Estate help you out! Our team of real estate professionals would love to help you get into your dream home. Click here to contact us – we look forward to getting to know you.

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