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You’ve started looking into what it takes to buy a home, but you’re not sure about the nitty-gritty details. That’s when you start trying to figure out what questions to ask when buying a house.
What Questions To Ask When Buying A House?
There is some specific information you shouldn’t bypass to keep you feeling in control to know you’re making the right decision when you find the house you want. Ask questions, get answers, and ideally, you’re going to end up with the right house for the right price, too.
1. What Is the Home’s History?
This question is an important one to ask because looks can be deceiving. What if the previous owners had painted over a water damaged wall instead of taking care of the problems and only did it to make it look good? What if there was mold under a perfectly plastered wall because they didn’t take care of the issue?
Those things happen, and they’re painful to fix after the fact. Because of that, it’s good to know the history of the house. You always want to request what is called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report because it contains any and all claims that may have been filed.
Couple that with a quality home inspection and you’re going to be better off getting the whole picture of what comes with the house. Of course, if it’s a brand new home, you shouldn’t have the mold issue to worry about, but still, don’t skimp on the
2. How Much Can I Afford?
This is among the trickier questions to ask when buying a house. You may get approved for a higher amount than you can comfortably afford, so this becomes a case of just-because-you-can-doesn’t-mean-you-should.
If you haven’t been pre-approved before looking, then chances are you don’t know what you can afford. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing as it is a common misconception among potential home buyers.
On the other hand, if you do know what you’ve been pre-approved for, then you also need to consider any other payments that may pop up as a result of buying a home. Examples include possible renovations or installation of flooring that you weren’t planning to do.
Appliances can also impact affordability. Consider whether or not you want to or need to purchase appliances when you buy a house. If you include them in your budget, then you’ll be ready to handle the expenses even if they are unexpected.
3. Am I Fiscally Prepared?
To be fiscally or financially prepared, you need to know if you can close on the home of your choice. That’s where getting pre-approved on a home purchase along with having good credit becomes critical to finalizing your decision.
A preapproval shows both you and the seller that you’re serious about buying a home and that you have the financial capacity to handle a house payment. A credit score is especially important, too, in getting pre-approved because specific issues on your credit can automatically disqualify you for a mortgage.
When in doubt, one of the first things you do is to get your credit report in order. That means checking for anything that could impact your credit like debt collections or other outstanding issues.
4. What Should I Offer?
Knowing how much to offer may be a little more than a guessing game. If you don’t offer enough, you could very well lose the house to another offer. If you offer too much, then you may pay more than you needed to purchase the home.
You'll need the experience and expertise of your real estate agent when you're trying to figure out how much to offer. Your agent should be able to tell you the selling prices that other homes in the neighborhood are going for. You’ll want to compare homes that are similar, look at their lower and higher market values, and come up with a comparable offer.
Pricing the home correctly will give you a better chance at having your offer accepted. It also gives you the opportunity to be prepared to counteroffer if necessary. Having someone guide you through the process will help, so you know when to make an offer or to keep looking.
5. What Makes My Offer More Appealing?
Depending on how competitive the market is, you may have to get creative on how to make your offer stand out. That can include writing a personal letter or note to the seller that talks about why you want the home. Maybe you’re a grandmotherly type that wants to live in the same neighborhood as the grandkids. Telling the seller your story might be what tips acceptance in your favor.
If the market is extremely competitive, it’s not unheard of to include hard-to-get tickets to a game or show as part of the offer. Some potential buyers will even wine and dine the sellers in order to attempt to gain their favor.
Do keep in mind, though, that in some cases, actions like these may very well turn off your seller, so use your judgment wisely and consider your audience. You’ll also want to check the law because in some cases, doing this can also be illegal in some places.
6. Can I DIY My Way Through the Offer Process?
The answer to this is pretty much a no. While there are templates online that are supposed to make the offer process easier, it’s really not the best way to move forward. Remember, there are area-specific laws that are made to guide the entire process, and those forms don’t always take that into consideration.
Once an offer is accepted, the seller is legally bound to follow through with the acceptance as long as all applicable laws are followed. It’s also important to know that in many states the law says that you have to work with a lawyer to complete the paperwork.
From a legal standpoint, you’ll fare much better if you use someone that is knowledgeable in real estate transactions. Having a good real estate agent can ensure that you have access to everyone and everything you need.
7. What Are My Mortgage Options?
There are several different options when it comes to picking which mortgage is right for you, but to pick your best choice, you need to know the jargon, so it makes sense when you hear it. Since everything can be so overwhelming, it helps if you at least have a loan officer that can navigate the rough waters for you.
There is a lot of information to take in and understand from terms, rates, and various other types of mortgages like the ones available from the VA or for first-time home buyers. It’s enough to make your head spin.
With all of that said, make sure you have a loan officer that knows all of this information. Do some research and find one that can give you the best information, so you end up picking the best mortgage with the lowest payment. It can mean the difference of thousands of dollars in savings for you.
8. What Exactly Are Closing Costs?
First off, closing is the time that you meet with brokers, realtors, and anyone else involved to sign the paperwork, saying that you are buying the house. When you sign the paperwork, you’re also committing to how the other associated costs are going to be paid by either the seller or buyer.
As an example, there are sometimes attorney fees that need to be paid at the close of a deal. There are also fees or commissions that must be paid to the realtor for the job they did in helping you find the home.
Don’t forget title insurance or mortgage insurance as required. Keep in mind that, in most instances, if you put down less than 20% of the total cost of your mortgage loan, you’ll have to purchase mortgage insurance which is also due at closing.
A Few Final Thoughts and Questions
There are several other questions to ask when buying a house, but they’re a little more outside-the-box as opposed to the ones previously presented. Ask if there are pets buried in the backyard, so you don’t find unpleasant surprises.
You may also want to ask if the house is haunted or was home to a murder or suicide which can lower the property cost. It isn’t required to disclose something like that, so asking may be the only way to find out.
Don’t forget to request warranty documentation along with any other paperwork about infestations or water damage, too. Once you ask all the questions and get answers, you’ll feel great knowing that you have all of the information you possibly need to make the right decisions when buying a house.