When you’re house hunting, there are certain things you know you need to look for. For example, if you’re a family of five, two bedrooms probably isn’t going to cut it. If you’re an elderly couple or disabled, you need to make sure there is at least one bedroom on the main level.
However, there are some questions that might seem obvious that you simply forget to ask in the sometimes overwhelming process of buying a new home.
Tell me about the neighborhood/area
Things that are important to consider here are the growth of the particular area that you’re looking at. If you absolutely cannot stand traffic and don’t mind driving 20 or more minutes to reach your local grocery store, make sure you aren’t moving to a town that has an extremely high growth rate. You might end up moving sooner than you anticipated.
Another consideration is the local amenities, including restaurants, business, and shopping. This is completely up to personal preference, but make sure you consider how much is around the home and how far it is.
Public transportation is also important to certain people, especially those who don’t own a car. Rural America is certainly not a world leader in public transportation, so you’ll have to carefully look into this to make sure you’re looking at homes in the areas you really need.
One thing that probably every parent considers when shopping for a new home is the crime rate. Your agent will probably be experienced with the area, but a way to be certain about the crime rate is a simple Google search or call to the local police station.
Don’t forget about taxes! The property tax rate can vary by area, and your realtor is able to get all necessary tax information for you so you aren’t taken aback when you finally discover it.
One last thing to consider is the school district if you have or are planning to have children. Take a look at the statistics offered online or call or email the school district to learn about that particular school.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a neighborhood, so don’t forget these important questions.
What does it sound like?
If you’re a light sleeper that can wake up at the sound of a pin dropping, you should pay extra attention to this question. If the house is located on a busy street, are you okay with the noises? If not, tell this to your agent at the very beginning so you don’t have to waste time looking at houses you know won’t fit your needs.
It is also a good idea to drive by the potential home on weekend nights to see if it’s too loud for your tastes.
How old is the…
If you don’t have a very big budget for repairs, it’s important to ask the age of certain features of the house. It’s even possible to put repairs of old items in the offer contract, although this should be reasonable in regards to your asking price. An experienced realtor can help you understand the market value and determine your offer.
Unless it’s immediately apparent, it’s a good idea to ask about the age of appliances, the HVAC, the roof, water heater, heater or furnace, and air conditioning.
Keep in mind, some of these, such as a roof, can last many years are aren’t in need of a replacement unless there are specific aspects that look degraded. Typically, a home inspector will point out things such as a faulty roof, but it’s still a good idea to know the age.
On the note of appliances, find out if anything has a warranty and if the current owner can provide that for you if you end up buying the house. This is especially pertinent if the owner just remodeled or bought something new for the home.
This could be applicable for many things, such as the garage door, HVAC, appliances, and more. This simple question could potentially save you a lot of money!
How is the home’s insulation?
Insulation is extremely important in keeping the home warm without overspending on your utility bill. Make sure that the home is well insulated in the walls and attic, particularly in colder climates.
How much are utilities and HOA fees?
When you’re calculating how much you’ll be spending on your home loan, don’t forget that you’ll need to take these additional costs into consideration (as well as taxes, which are mentioned above).
The majority of the homes in our area don’t come with an HOA fee, but it’s still an important question to ask in case they do. An experienced agent would likely tell you right away about this additional cost if it exists.
When determining the utility costs, sometimes you can just ask the current owner the average amount that they spend. Keep in mind, this will be different for different people as everyone has their own temperature preference.
Make sure you learn if the home uses gas, electric, propane, or a combination, and ask how much each bill is, as well as water or any other utility costs. Don’t forget that this includes waste removal if you live in certain areas.
What about parking?
This could be obvious depending on the house, such as if it has a two-car garage and you have two cars. But, if you have more than two cars, it’s important to find out if it is illegal to park on the street or not.
Don’t forget that if you have a very high truck, it might not fit comfortably in the garage. Make sure you’ll have room to legally fit each car you own.
Michele Karl is the Owner/Broker of Priority Real Estate. She can be reached at her email at [email protected] or give her a call at her office at 865-577-6600.