10 Questions You Need To Ask Before Buying A Home
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Written and produced by Karen Hutchinson, REALTOR®
Updated February 18, 2022
There are so many questions to ask before, during, and after buying a home. Today, I’m writing about 10 questions you should ask of yourself and others before you even set foot in a house.
You will be thankful that you have these answers as you consider your home purchase. It’s just awful to be surprised by some things that you didn’t research in advance.
My list is a general place to start. If you have more questions, specific to your own home-buying circumstance, I would be happy to hear from you so that I can provide the answers and clarity you need.
You’re Ready To Shop For A House, But Before You “Add To Cart”, Think Honestly About Your Answers To The Following Questions:
1. When is the best time for you to buy a house? Trying to anticipate the housing market is impossible. The best time to buy a house is when you find the house that meets your needs and you can afford it.
2. When looking at homes to purchase, what do you need to consider, other than the house itself? Remember, you aren’t just buying a house. You’re buying an entire community and a lifestyle. Take a good drive around the neighbourhood and check out how it’s cared for. Ask yourself: Are there the amenities I’ll need such as shopping, schools, places of worship, public transportation, recreation? What else do I need in a community?
3. Do you know how much you can afford to pay for a house? A good banker or mortgage broker will help you determine this. Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do prior to going house shopping. Knowing in advance what you can afford will help avoid the disappointment of finding your dream house, only to be turned down by the bank for financing. It will also prevent you from wasting your time looking at houses that are out of reach for you at this point in your life.
4. What is the cost of owning a home? As you can imagine, the cost of owning a home does not stop at the monthly mortgage payment. Other costs to add to your budget include (but are not limited to): property taxes, insurance, homeowner association fees, utility bills, and home repairs. It’s important and wise to establish a contingency fund in your personal budget for when “life” happens. You don’t want to be caught off -guard!
5. Speaking of money, what does your lawyer charge for real estate transactions? It’s important to know what you’ll need to pay in legal fees. You’ll need a lawyer to do the necessary paperwork to transfer the ownership from one owner to the next. Do you really want to be surprised by a legal bill you didn’t anticipate?
6. What are your WANTS vs. NEEDS? After you’ve gone through the pre-approval process, you can now compile your list of wants and needs. If you have a dog, then a condo in the city that might not allow pets isn’t the answer for you. But a single-family home with a fenced yard would be perfect for you! Do you have kids? Where will they go to school? You might not have kids right now, but will you have some during the time you own this home?
7. What are your deal-breakers? Deal-breakers are different than dislikes. Dislikes are things like paint colour or choice of flooring. Those things can be changed. Deal breakers are things like location, location, location. Deal breakers are the things you can’t change.
8. When you are ready to move on from this house, will it be difficult to sell? If there’s something quirky about the house but it doesn’t bother you, that’s perfectly fine. But ask yourself if it would appeal to someone else, or would it be a tough sell when you are ready to leave?
If you think you’re getting a good deal on the house because it’s a bit of an odd-ball or has some features that make it “unique”, keep in mind that you will have to show the same grace in pricing to the next buyer. It might also take longer to sell than a more main-stream home in the neighbourhood. In the long run, is that worth it to you?
9. How long do you plan to stay in the area? Buying a house is a major commitment. Think about your commute to work. Are you confident that you and/or your significant other will not be relocated?
10. Do you know a REALTOR® that you would be happy to work with? Ask yourself: Does that REALTOR® know how to help me find a home that meets my needs? Does that REALTOR® care about me? Does she care about my short-term and long-term real estate goals?