Questions To Ask When Buying A House

Dated: December 1 2020

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Home buying seems simple enough: Find a house you like that’s close to work or school, tell someone you want to buy it, and move in.

But there's more to it than that. You’ll have to find and get approved by a lender who will let you borrow a few hundred thousand dollars, lock in a mortgage rate, figure out how much house you can afford, put in an offer that will entice the seller, get an inspection and an appraisal, pay closing costs and sign a whole bunch of paperwork.

Phew! We need a break just thinking about all the questions to ask when buying a house.

Your real estate agent can help you understand the process. But if you don’t ask questions or get your agent to clarify something you don’t understand, they’re not going to know you’re confused.

“There are no such things as stupid questions,” says REALTOR® Ryan Fitzgerald in Raleigh, N.C. “If you have a question, ask it, no matter how foolish it sounds in your own head.”

Don’t be afraid. Ask away. You're making one of the biggest financial transactions of your life, so it's a good idea to tap into your agent's expertise.

Here are some questions to ask a real estate agent when buying a house.

1. How old Is the HVAC, water heater, and roof of this home?

It’s easy to be dazzled by 12-foot ceilings, crown molding, and other aesthetic features, but you need to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of the house. We’re talking the unsexy stuff like the HVAC system, water heater, roof, electrical system, and plumbing.

These items could have more impact on a home’s value than quartz countertops or hardwood floors, because it's expensive when they malfunction. A leaking hot water heater can do thousands of dollars of damage. And replacing an aging HVAC system can start at more than $5,000, putting it in the major expense category.

2. What if the home inspection reveals major issues?

The home inspection is one of the most nerve-wracking days of the homebuying process. It’s when you find out about every wart on the place you fell in love with at the showing.

Most of the time the inspection goes as expected. But if you aren’t expecting a major issue and the inspector discovers something awful like a rusting sewer main or walls full of termites, it can be panic attack time.

Breathe. "What should I do when the inspector has bad news?" is one of the most common questions to ask when buying a house. Talk to your agent.

Your agent can calm you down so you can plan your next move, whether it’s “Let’s kiss this money pit of a house goodbye” or “Let’s negotiate with the seller and get those repairs done so you can close on time.”

3. What happens if the appraisal comes back low?

In competitive markets where there are more buyers than sellers, it’s possible to end up in a bidding war over a house. This can drive the sales price higher than the appraised value of the home. Lenders balk when the price is higher than the value, and this can jam up the deal.

Ask your agent what you should do if the appraisal comes in low. An experienced agent will have been in the situation before and have good advice. You'll have a couple of options, including ordering a second appraisal, covering the difference in cash, or walking away from the deal.

No matter what happens, keep your cool. Just because the appraisal is low doesn’t mean the deal will fall through.

4. What do we need to do to prepare for closing?

Closing day is essentially the transfer of ownership, but it’s not just a formality. It needs to go well. This is when you sign the final paperwork and get the keys to the house.

One of the most important questions to ask a real estate agent is exactly what you need to bring for the big day. You'll probably need your ID, a check for the closing costs, and proof of homeowner’s insurance.

Asking in advance will keep you organized and help your first big real estate transaction run smoothly. You don't want to get there and realize you forgot a key piece of paperwork that keeps the deal from closing. Fewer things are as disappointing than not going home from a closing with keys to your new house. So, ask questions. Knowledge is power. There are no silly questions to ask when buying a house.


-Houselogic by Realtors®

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Susie Flores

As a Realtor licensed in San Antonio, Susie provides strategic marketing and transaction management services to her clients across many Texas markets. Her business is built on dedication, communicatio....

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