Questions Every Buyer Should Ask Before Making an Offer on a Home
Buying a home is a big financial commitment, so it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the best value for your money. While a home inspection will help prevent a buyer from purchasing a property that is full of problems, there are many things that the sellers can choose to withhold if they aren’t asked directly.
Knowing which questions to ask can help you cover your bases and will prevent you from wasting money and time if the home is at risk for major problems in the future.
Carefully review any disclosures that the sellers provide with your Agent, and check to see if the following questions are answered. If they aren’t, have your real estate agent ask their listing agent before you decide to make an offer.
1. How old are the home systems, and how often have they been serviced?
The HVAC and electricity systems might be working when you look at the home, but if they’re old or have gone a long time without being properly maintained, you might end up having to spend a great deal of money to have them inspected or replaced with a newer system.
2. What are the monthly expenses?
Asking the current homeowners what they spend on utilities each money is a good way to get an idea of what you’ll be paying. People often forget to include utilities and bills in their monthly expenses list, so get an estimate.
3. When was the roof last replaced?
Asphalt shingle roofs usually need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years, so if the roof on the home is approaching the 15-year mark, you might be looking at a major future expense.
4. Is this a “stigmatized property”?
In some states, sellers are not required to disclose if there has been an occupant death, murder, suicide, or serious illness of someone living in the home. Whether such an event has occurred might not make a difference on whether or not you make an offer, but it’s good to know the history of your home, especially if it could negatively impact future resale value.
In a nutshell, every Realtor® has a duty to investigate a property for physical conditions that a reasonable person would find important when deciding to purchase the property, and if the Realtor® has reason to know of any special needs or concerns of a client, the Realtor® must investigate for those concerns too. Furthermore, a Realtor® has a duty to divulge those material facts in his or her knowledge to potential buyers.
Is an occupant death, murder, suicide a “physical condition that affects the property” so that a Realtor® must disclose the event to a potential buyer?
Well, no New Jersey court has ruled on the issue so keep it on your list of questions to ask.
5. Are there any warranties on the appliances staying with the home?
If the sellers are leaving behind any appliances, ask them to provide the warranty documentation. You’ll want to be able to review the paperwork to see how long everything is covered and what the terms and conditions are.
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If the home happens to have some potential red flags before you put in an offer, that’s not to say you shouldn’t make one. Asking upfront allows you to be aware of any lingering issues instead of being surprised by giant problems that could have been foreseen.
And always make sure that you have a home inspection done on the property after you make an offer. A thorough inspection will expose any issues that need to be resolved immediately and can give you an idea of future home projects as well.
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