Questions to Ask When Buying a Home

Dated: April 7 2020

Views: 38

When it comes to buying a house, are you asking the right questions? We're going to discuss some of the questions you need to ask when considering a home purchase. 

Is This a Good Time to Buy a Home?

I think the first and foremost question on everyone's mind is, "Is it even a good time to buy a house right now?" Covid-19 is certainly causing uncertainty everywhere and the housing market is no exception. We've had to certainly change the way we approach our business, but nonetheless, the demand or the need to buy and sell real estate is always going to be constant and we're seeing proof of that right now. Low-interest rates are pushing a lot of buyers off the fence to buy a house or even encouraging homeowners to refinance. In addition, governor Kemp's approval for temporary online closings should help the mortgage and real estate industry to continue moving forward at a steady pace. Overall, the experts seem to agree it is still a relatively good time to purchase a property. You just need to follow the typical guidelines that you would with any other home purchase. But in addition, you need to think about how Covid-19 is going to affect your job and your job security long term.


Request to See the Seller’s Property Disclosure

One of the single most important questions you can ask when purchasing a home is to request the seller's property disclosure. With nearly 100 questions, this disclosure is going to give you a tremendous amount of information regarding the property that you're going to buy. You still need to do a home inspection, but the disclosure will paint a really good picture of not only the current but also the past condition of the property. Make sure as well that you get this before you make an offer. It's always better to catch any deal-breakers or material defects upfront before you've spent hundreds of dollars on a home inspection or committed to a contract. 

What is Your Total Budget?

There's so much more to sustain a home than just the monthly mortgage payment. Consider and calculate costs beyond just the sales price. You want to include items like property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association fees, monthly maintenance, emergency repairs, insurance, utilities and more.


What Can I Expect to Pay in Closing Costs?

One of the most common questions I get asked by my buyers is what can we expect to pay in closing costs. As a good rule of thumb, 2% to 5% of these total sales price is what you can expect to pay. Now also keep in mind the closing costs can be paid either by the buyer or the seller and they are oftentimes a point of negotiation within the process of making an offer. Also, three days prior to closing, your lender is going to provide you with a lender's disclosure. What this is going to do is give you the opportunity to review all the information regarding your mortgage, your closing costs, and it will also tell you the exact amount that you're expected to bring in funds to the closing. I always tell my buyers if you have any questions whatsoever or if you feel like there's a discrepancy in any of the numbers, please make sure you address that with your lender and the closing attorney prior to the closing ceremony!


Why is the Seller Moving?

A very simple yet really revealing question to ask the seller, “Why are you moving?” Understanding their situation and the reason for their move can provide you a lot of insight into their motivation. Think of real estate as a puzzle. There are a tremendous amount of parts and variables that all need to come together just perfectly to make the puzzle fit together. Understanding the seller's motivation upfront can offer you a lot of insight as to what their motivation is, what their time frame is, whether or not they're going to be flexible or negotiate on the price. You want to get as much information as you can up front to make your part of the transaction as smooth as possible.


Ask About the Neighborhood & Neighbors

All right, you've found it, the house that you absolutely love and you can't wait to put an offer on it, but you're just not sure quite yet because after all, this is a place that you can live for potentially at least the next 10 years and you really just don't know about the neighborhood or the neighbors that you're going to be inheriting along with this property.

It's really challenging to understand the true essence of a neighborhood or a community prior to moving in. So what can you do? The best thing to do is to drive the neighborhood and talk to neighbors. I'm sure we all have those neighbors who love to talk and chat and give information whether good or bad. So, drive around the neighborhood, go out in the summertime when it's great weather and people are out.  Observe what's going on in the community and don't be afraid to talk to people. As I said, this is going to be your home for the next 10 years, so make sure that it's a place that you really want to be a part of and that you want to stay in for longterm.


How Long Has the Property Been on the Market?

Another great question to ask, "How long has the property been on the market?" Oftentimes the longer property sits on the market, the more willing a seller is to negotiate their price and terms. Oftentimes we see properties that are overpriced in the beginning and then they begin to fade in the market as they continue their price reductions week after week. This combined with the extended days on market really starts to make buyers think, "What's wrong with this property?" Unfortunately for the seller, they're probably going to end up losing thousands due to being overpriced, but being a buyer, knowing this information, doing your research and homework and understanding the history of these properties can actually help you to save money and negotiate a better offer.


What Are Comparable Homes Selling For?

In addition, it's essential that you understand what other homes in the area are selling for. Sit down with your real estate agent and pull a list of all the active properties in the area in addition to anything that has sold in the last six months.  Look for properties that are most like the home that you're interested in with regards to features, bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage. Use that information to narrow down the pool to find homes most like yours. From there, identify any market trends that you see in the area, whether it's trending up or down or staying the same, and use that information to craft your offer.


Is Your Realtor Knowledgeable About Your Target Market?

Is the real estate agent you're working with knowledgeable about your target market? It's essential that you find an agent who really does understand the market in which you want to buy a property. Real estate is influenced by economic, social, political, and environmental forces that can affect the value and pricing of homes as well as the local buying and selling trends. So working with an agent who understands how these influences can affect their market can prove to be invaluable.


Is Your Realtor & Mortgage Broker Responsive?

Is your real estate agent and mortgage lender responsive? Look, buying real estate can be a daunting task for anybody, especially if you feel like you're doing it by yourself. Throughout the real estate transaction, your mortgage lender and real estate agent will be your main points of contact for communication. They should not only guide you through the process but make themselves available to you for any questions or concerns that you may have. If they're not helpful and not responsive. This can definitely make your process seem much more frustrating and overwhelming. So make sure you surround yourself with a good team upfront to have a smooth as a transaction as possible.


Blog author image

Misty Harris

Meet Misty Harris - a U.S Army Veteran and licensed professional REALTOR with JP & Associates Realtors Metro Atlanta. Misty has always been passionate about real estate. It began with her admiration ....

Latest Blog Posts

Forsyth County High School

The kids' summer break is quickly coming to an end. As we approach this crazy unorthodox school year have you decided if your kids are going back to school in person? Will they be doing virtual

Read More

6 Tips for Buying a Home Long Distance

We all know real estate transactions can be pretty tricky, but trying to buy a home from a long distance can bring a whole new set of challenges to the equation. But don't worry, it doesn't have to

Read More

Forsyth County Middle Schools

The start of school is just around the corner. Do you know how to get your kids registered in Forsyth County? What time do classes start and end? And how in the world do you even log on to virtual

Read More

Georgia Seller's Property Disclosure

What is a seller's property disclosure in Georgia? Is it required by law? And what information are you expected to disclose about your property? We'll talk about all that and more coming right up.

Read More