What Are Some Questions Buyers Should be Asking?

This thread on Reddit the other day prompted a bit of a writing prompt.

What are some questions that home buyers should be asking?

In my practice, I ask a lot of dumb questions – dumb questions in that I know that my clients (buyers and sellers) should be asking them, but often don’t know to ask them. So I ask for them … these are just some that came to me the other day. I think I’ll add to this post over time, but felt that these were some awfully useful questions. I pulled some of them from my 30+ Tips for First Time Homebuyers post that I wrote earlier this year.

Have a question? Have a favorite question you like to ask? I’d love to hear (and add) it. 434-242-7140 or email me.

My two cents:

– Is there a survey? Where are the property lines? Are there easements about which I should be aware?

–  Is there an HOA? What are the dues? What have the dues done over the past 10 years? Is the HOA professionally managed? (9/10 professionally managed is better than managed by those who have this much free time)

–  What’s traffic like during rush hour? What’s the commute like? (Always, always visit at different times of day/night the place you’re considering)

–  What’s buyer agency? (if you visit an open house – there’s a 99% chance that the agent hosting it is there to represent the seller … not you)

–  Should I use an attorney or title company? (in my market, using an attorney is usually the better option of the two)

–  Should I rent first before I buy? (my advice: yes – rent in the area in which you’re going to buy so that you can learn the area)

–  What is the likelihood of the schools to be redistricted? (this is an outstanding question, the answer to which is extremely tricky and requires a lot of research and due diligence)

–  What have property taxes done? Gone up? Down? (what’s the mil rate?)

–  Should I consider the property assessment when trying to determine market value? (in my market, usually the answer is “no”

–  Who do you recommend for a lender? (I tend to recommend and work with two or three local lenders – because I know them, know them to be honest, know that they’ll answer my texts on a Sunday morning if my clients need them, and know that they’ll alert us to issues before they become major problems … and work to fix them) Also: How do I know I’m getting the best deal on a loan?

–  This is a HUGE question to ask of an agent before you hire them – do you do this full time – you know, as a profession? If they’re doing less than a handful of transactions a year, in my opinion, they’re not practicing enough to be fully aware of trends that affect the market and clients.

–  What inspections should I get? (in my market, again, – the answer is: home inspection, radon inspection, I recommend septic & well inspections, frequently sewer line inspections and occasionally energy audits)

–  How much does this house cost to run? PITI is one thing, but how much are the average monthly utilities? HOA dues? Lawn maintenance? etc?

–  What’s going to go there? – as in, is that field/open lot/space going to remain that way? You don’t want to buy a house in a nice setting only to discover later that it’s a LUST/Superfund site or zoned for a Walmart, or years ago it was supposed to be a shopping center that lost funding but is going to one day be a shopping center.

–  How should I search for homes? Which sites are most accurate?

There are more questions that I ask, and that I prompt my clients to ask, but this is a pretty good start.

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  1. Simon Campbell August 27, 2014 at 11:58

    Can I get a copy of the Seller’s Disclosure Statement? When looking at a home, I would want to personally ask the seller (not the seller’s real estate agent) what upgrades and repairs have been done in the last 5 years and who did them.

    1. Jim Duncan September 3, 2014 at 06:24

      Lamentably, Virginia offers only a disclosure statement that essentially discloses that the seller’s not disclosing anything …

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