Viewing a home that you plan on purchasing can be a confusing experience. You’ll naturally have a million questions for your real estate agent but may not know how or when to ask them. Our advice is to limit your initial inquiries to the most important matters that could make or break your decision to place a bid. Here are the most important questions to ask when considering a home for sale.
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1. What Is the State of the Foundation?
You can’t have long-term confidence in the structural integrity of your home if it’s sitting on a dodgy foundation. According to the latest statistics, a major foundation repair can cost upwards of $15,000. Cracks in a poured foundation can be a big issue if the surrounding ground tends to be waterlogged. Stone and mortar foundations develop their own issues when given enough time.
2. What Is the Nature of the Flooring?
Many people prefer solid hardwood floors when looking at potential home purchases. You don’t necessarily need solid hardwood floors if the flooring material is in good shape. For example, newer vinyl plank flooring can deliver years of dependable performance while costing far less than core wood planks. Just be sure to ask the agent about the composition of the flooring and the age of the material.
3. When Was the Roof Last Replaced?
A shingle roof will last at least 20 years if installed and maintained properly. If the roof on a home you plan on buying is nearing that 20-year mark, a professional should definitely look at it. A roof that will need to be replaced soon should merit a deduction in your bid. Tile or metal roofs won’t require the same level of scrutiny.
4. How Old Is the Wiring?
In older homes, wiring can be a major problem. It’s been estimated that electrical fires cause over $1.3 billion worth of property damage every year. Sub-par wiring is a major contributor to that tally. An older home that hasn’t been rewired since the 1950s is a ticking time bomb regarding the possibility of an electrical fire.
5. How Old Are the Windows and Doors?
Brand-new windows and doors will almost always beat the pants off of older models as far as energy efficiency goes. Double and triple-pane windows that boast a noble gas, like argon, in between the glass sheets will more than pay for themselves over the years in utility bill savings.
6. What Is the Condition of the Plumbing?
Lousy plumbing is the only thing that causes more headaches for homeowners than poor wiring. Clogged drain pipes can cost you a pretty penny in property damage if they allow wastewater to penetrate recessed spaces. Furthermore, iffy underground pipes running to the house can be just as vexing to troubleshoot. Knowing the plumbing repair history of a home is a must if you want to make a smart bid.
7. How Is the Home Heated or Cooled?
Getting the lay of the land as far as the HVAC system is concerned is a key issue when surveying a potential buy. At a bare minimum, you’ll want to know how old the main HVAC system is right up front. A home’s heat source will directly impact a space’s livability in many ways. Having to replace a failing heat system isn’t cheap, after all.
8. What’s the Cabinet Situation Like?
While cabinets may seem like an afterthought, they can greatly impact the quality of life. Cheap cabinets that weren’t installed properly ruin everyday life for homeowners in various ways. Color is another big issue. Solid white cabinets are preferable since they work with a variety of aesthetic themes. If you need to replace the existing hardware, there are plenty of RTA cabinets on the market that will work with your desired kitchen or bathroom layout scheme.
9. How Old Is the Paint and the Drywall?
You can tell at a glance if the paint is in good shape. What you can’t tell at a glance is what the paint is made of. Modern paints are much more resilient and can handle a scuff or bump better than older paints. Old drywall can hide mold issues that haven’t been addressed in a long time. Knowing how old the walls are is important if you want a good return on your investment.
10. Are There Any Easements Associated With the Property?
Generally speaking, most homes on the open market have no caveats associated with them, such as liens. However, a tantalizing property might come with an easement that’s not widely advertised. Obviously, it’s up to you to figure these things out and for your real estate agent to disclose such issues before you start negotiating.
11. Are There Any Weather-Related Problems We Should Know About?
Unless you live in a house for a full calendar year, knowing everything about the local climate and how it might impact a building is impossible. For instance, a back lawn area might be prone to flooding at certain times. Or there could be months when gale-force winds might damage roof shingles.
Ultimately, locking down your dream house in your ideal zip code is possible if you ask the right questions. An hour or two of research and investigation will save you years of frustration and thousands of dollars in the long run. If you ask the questions above before you make a bid on a home, you’ll thank yourself later.