So you’ve finally found your dream home. From the exposed beams to the hardwood floors and ample closet space, this feels like the one. So what now? Well don’t just stand there—it’s time to start asking questions. And not just the kind that randomly pop into your head, either. You need to hit all of the necessary topics, and some of them are not so obvious.
But that’s why we’re here: We’ve pulled together a checklist of some of the most important initial questions to ask when buying a home:
What is the home’s sales history?
When was the last time the house sold, and how much did the current owners pay for it? This is essential and you don’t even have to ask the seller or your real estate agent about it, because it’s posted on every MLS listing. All you have to do is do a quick internet search to find it. Just make sure you know what it is before you buy.
When buying a home, the sale price will give you an idea of what the sellers might expect you to pay. Just know that that a home’s true market value is based more on what similar homes are selling for now rather than what it went for in the past. Sales history will also show you whether the home’s price has been trending up or down over time, which can help you when you are negotiating your price.
Were there any major renovations or additions?
If they’ve done any major reconstruction – like a bathroom overhaul, or refreshing the kitchen, you’ll want to know. Ideally, you’ll also want to know what they paid for these renovations.
This will give you an idea of how much money they’ve sunk into the home—and what they hope to get out. That being said, don’t think you have to give as much as they put in. Keep in mind the house value and negotiate to what you think is fair—and its never 100% of what they put in.
What are the property taxes?
Property tax history is usually available right on the listing detail page. If you can’t find it, you should most definitely ask the seller. You’ll want to find out what previous owners paid, but understand that the property tax, since it’s based on a percentage of the value of the house, will probably be affected by your purchase price. Keep in mind that this could be a huge additional expense, and you’ll need to budget for that when putting together your offer.
What are the monthly maintenance and utility costs?
Are there any additional fees? Learn what kind of power the house uses, whether it’s it gas, electric, solar or a combination, and ask what the average monthly bill for each is. Also inquire about water, waste removal, and any other utility costs that you’ll be making use of.
What renovations will need to be done?
How much money will you need to put into the house? Will you need a new roof? Checking out internal or structural problems will help you figure out how much time and money will need to be put into the house upon move in. Ask about the pipes, and make sure that all codes are up-to-date. It would be good to know how soon you might need to lay out any additional cash.
In Tennessee, it is required by law that before you actually make the transfer to a buyer, you have to give that person a disclosure statement. This will give you, the buyer, notice of any known material defects with the property.