Buying a home, especially making an offer and negotiating, is a lot like playing a game of poker – a very high-stakes game of poker. For, as with a poker game, there’s a lot of psychological maneuvering involved, and the more you can discover and know about the other players, the better off you’ll be. Similarly, the more you can find out about the home, the sellers and their situation, and the neighborhood, the likelier you are to get a better deal or at least not make a disastrous mistake. Accordingly, here are 5 questions to ask your agent when viewing a home.
1. Why Is the Owner Selling?
The first of the crucial questions to ask your agent when viewing a home concerns the reason the owner wants to sell. If the owner is selling because he took a new job in another town, then everything’s good. But if it’s because the foundation is cracking and he doesn’t want the huge repair expense, that’s another matter entirely. Also, if you find that the seller’s reason for selling means that he has limited time to sell, then you may be able to negotiate a lower price. Knowing the reason for selling will help you avoid a costly mistake and determine whether the home is a good fit for you.
2. How Long Has the Home Been on the Market?
Questions to ask your agent also include finding out how long the home has been on the market. For if the house has been on the market for more than three months, that could be a huge red flag – or it could work to your benefit. When a house sits on the market for a long period, that often means there is something wrong with it. But it also could mean that the seller has been asking too much and may now be desperate to sell – which means a lower price for you.
3. How Often Has the Home Been Sold?
It’s also important to know how many times the home has sold in the last few years. If the home has been on and off the market several times in the last 10 years, it could be because there are major problems that new owners discovered only after they bought it. So be sure to ask your agent how often the home has been sold.
4. What Is the State of the Market in the Neighborhood?
This is definitely one of the critical questions to ask your agent when viewing a home. The answer can mean the difference between the home’s being a good investment or a money loser. You absolutely must consult your agent to find out whether homes in the neighborhood are and are likely to continue appreciating over time or whether the neighborhood is in decline and homes there decreasing in desirability.
5. How Much Do Taxes and Utility Bills Run?
Questions to ask your agent when viewing a home also include those concerning more run-of-the-mill matters like property taxes and utility bills. You may not be able to afford the mortgage payment if the taxes and utilities turn out to be much higher than you expected. Finding out about these things early can help you figure out whether you can actually afford the mortgage.
The Best Way to Get the Best Answers
These questions to ask your agent when viewing a home will help you make good, informed purchasing decisions. But, still, for the questions to do you any good, you have to get good answers based on sound data from a knowledgeable local real estate agent. Your financial future may depend on it.