Buying a home can be a daunting proposition, but it doesn’t have to be. By asking the right questions, you can avoid expensive pitfalls and walk boldly into the transaction, confident that you have invested wisely in a comfortable home. You will have questions for your real estate agent, questions for the seller, but the first, and most important, questions are the ones you must ask yourself.
Questions For Yourself
What’s my budget?
A mortgage lender may approve a much larger monthly payment than you can actually afford. If you have never created a formal budget, now is a good time to do so. There are plenty of opportunities for first time home buyers to sit down with a budget professional to make sure all of your expenses are identified and included in your calculations. Your realtor will probably be able to help you find free services.
How much money do I need to save?
The down payment is only one component you will need. You will also be faced with closing costs and moving expenses. Utilities will likely charge transfer fees or, if you are a new customer, deposits. After determining how much cash you will need, add a little more to cover unforeseen expenses.
Questions For Your Real Estate Agent
A good real estate agent should be ready and willing to help you with these important questions and factors that require consideration. Make sure you take advantage of their experience and expertise to help you make the right choice.
Is the house in a nice neighborhood?
This question goes far beyond a drive around the block. Your real estate agent will be able to tell you more about local amenities. Remember that your house is more than just a home; it is also an investment. Even if these things are not important to you now, they will be to buyers down the road. The most common concerns buyers express are:
Is the location pleasant?
This is often a matter of taste. Some people prefer a lot of green space where others may prefer a more cosmopolitan atmosphere. In the best of both worlds, you would have both. Is it in a good school district? Great Schools rates each school in America as to academics, equity and environment. What is the crime rate? Is traffic an issue?
While no one want a freeway running right next to their home, it’s generally considered a plus to have easy access to major thoroughfares. How difficult is the commute to employment centers? How about shopping, hospitals, parks and recreation, and schools? Will it be difficult to visit family and friends?
How is the community laid out? Modern planned communities allocate sites for particular types of development, like housing, retail and green space. Older communities may be arranged in a checkerboard pattern, while newer ones may have cul-de-sacs, dead ends and even speed bumps to minimize high speed drivers and create a more family-oriented community.
How does the price of the home compare to other houses in the same community? Is there an HOA? What are the benefits and restrictions and the cost of membership? What about utilities? Is the home energy-efficient?
Questions For The Seller
Your real estate agent can help you get answers to these questions and any others you may have:
What will be staying in the house?
It’s important to know whether you will need to buy new appliances or inherit the ones you can see. Don’t make assumptions that can cost you later.
How old is the roof?
Generally, you can assume that a roof has a lifespan of about twenty years. If that is an upcoming expense, it could completely derail your budget.
How long has the home been on the market?
The duration of time the home has been on the market can provide insight that will help you at the negotiation table. Don’t miss these tips for getting a good price.