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12 Questions to Ask When Buying a Home for the First Time

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12 Questions to Ask When Buying a Home for the First Time


Are you excited at the prospect of buying your first home? While you should savor the thrill and search, it is important to keep a clear head. Buying a property has many pitfalls, and you need to know them to safeguard your investment. 

Many of these problems can be avoided by doing the right checks and asking questions. Read on as we give our twelve questions to ask when buying a home.

1. What Is My Budget?

The most important first-time home buyer question should be one you ask yourself. This is because many people assume they have a deposit, can get a loan for a certain amount and that is the budget finalized. It is, however, much more complex. 

For instance, you have numerous fees and taxes added to the closing cost of buying a house. These will be the first factor that brings down your total amount. 

The second factor is deciding if you are willing to keep money back for changes and renovations to a property you buy. If you do not want to do anything, then your budget is final and you need to find a home you would be happy in without any changes. 

However, if you want to make a house your own you may keep the money for decorating and renovation. You may decide to buy a house at a low cost that needs a lot of repairs. In this instance, you need a budget for the home and a separate one for renovation. 

2. Why Are You Selling?

This question is one for the people selling a home. While you may not get an honest answer, the reactions of the seller can give you an indication as to why they are moving on. 

The answer you really want is that they are either upsizing or downsizing, depending upon family situations. They could also be leaving the area for work or other reasons. 

However, reasons for selling can also be because the area has gotten worse in terms of crime. The schools in the local area could have gotten worse. Perhaps the house is in an area that is prone to natural disasters, such as flooding. 

While people will not inform you about the latter, do your research beforehand. Ask them about these problems in the local area and gauge their response.

3. What Is Included in the Sale? 

There is not really a hard and fast rule for what is included on home sales, and the ones that do exist differ by state. Generally, buying a home in 2021 should include the fittings you see in the home. These can include cabinets, window blinds, and faucets. 

If something is not included, the seller should state this in the listing. However, when it comes to time for paperwork, make sure any fittings you really want are included in writing. 

For first-time buyers, leaving items in the house can often be a bonus. This cuts down on initial furniture and fitting costs. Discuss this with the seller and see what they are willing to leave, or you may have to add refrigerators, sofas, ovens, and other large items to your overall budget. 

4. How Long Has the House Been On the Market?

This is a good question to ask, as it can tell you if there are any major problems. While a house may just be on the market a while because of an abundance of houses for sale, known as a buyers market, something else may be afoot. 

It could be that the house has a serious problem. In this case, make sure you pay for a very thorough house inspection before committing. It may also be that the house is overpriced, so consult your agent and check similar property prices in the local area. 

5. What Is the Cost of Upkeep?

Just because a home is in your first-time home buying budget, does not mean you can afford its upkeep on a monthly basis. While that heated pool may seem great at first sight, think about the upkeep of all of these extra costs. 

The basics you spend on will be electricity, gas, water, heating, and air conditioning. On top of this, you will have the taxes associated with the local area or state. Finally, you have to maintain the appearance of the home itself including repairs and renovations. 

Before buying a home, work these out and add them to your monthly mortgage payments along with any other outgoings. Mortgage and bills should ideally be around a third of the household income. 

6. Have There Been Major Renovations?

Official records of the home and the advertised listing do not always correlate. You may find rooms are simply extensions or additions. These can be illegal if they do not follow building regulations. 

In addition, they can impact local taxes. If you buy a home like this and it is later discovered to be illegal or you have not been paying taxes, you will be in serious trouble. 

Make sure what is on the deeds, such as the area, matches with the house itself. If renovations have been done, ask to see the paperwork and planning permissions. Finally, ask for receipts for any major installations such as HVAC systems.

7. How Old Are the Roof and Systems?

The systems in your house include HVAC, appliances, and even electrics if you are buying an old property. All of these become outdated and need replacing over time. The last thing you want is to buy a home, only to find later that all its systems need replacing. 

The roof is also a major feature of the house that will need repair and replacement over time. This can also be a huge cost. 

Ask to see when these items were last replaced or repaired, and view the correct documentation. If they are old, factor this into your offer price and let the seller known you have done this. In some instances, you may even be able to put it in a contract clause for repairs to be done before the sale. 

8. How Is the Neighborhood?

While anything in a home can be fixed, the neighborhood is out of your hands. The most important question for home sellers should be how the neighbors are. Are they a family, elderly, or do they have pets?

After this, ask about the neighborhood. For an unbiased opinion, take a drive through the area at night. Is it a place you would feel safe walking around?

9. How Much Have Similar Homes Sold For?

There are numerous online searches that can let you know house prices in the local area. However, the listings may not reflect the true sales price. This is where the benefit of a real estate agent comes into play. 

You need to know houses of a similar size in the local vicinity. This can let you know if you are paying over the odds, or even under. Both of these should raise questions, which the sellers should be able to provide solid answers for. 

10. What Is the Insurance History?

The insurance history of a home can impact your ability to secure home insurance, or may up the cost for you. Insurance companies work on risk management and they will adapt accordingly. 

Ask the seller for their comprehensive loss underwriting exchange (CLUE) report. It will document any past insurance incidents in the last seven years. 

11. Are There Any Hazards?

Even the smartest of homes can house hazardous substances that may not be apparent on a visual inspection. When first-time home buying, you really do not want to be saddled with the removal of them later down the line, or not realize and have it impact your health. 

Mold is the most common problem, along with pest infestations. More serious problems can be lead in pipes and paint, asbestos, and radon. 

12. Is the Home Susceptible to Natural Disasters?

Some elements are out of your hands, and natural disasters are one. However, you really don't want the shock of regular hurricanes or earthquakes damaging your new home and increasing your insurance. Even that is only if you can get it. 

If the home is on a flood plain, the seller is legally obliged to disclose this to you. In fact, you can do an independent check online to see if the property does lie in a high-risk flood area. 

Selecting Questions to Ask When Buying a Home

You may think that there are a lot of questions to ask when buying a home; however, you should not be selective. All of them need to be asked to make sure you get the right investment. 

Your first stop when buying a home should be Hommati. We have a number of home listings on our website and a helpful blog to guide you. Click here to search for a real estate agent, and start your property search today!