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5 Key Questions Home Buyers Forget to Ask

ForSaleByOwner February 15, 2024

There’s more to a home than the specs and listing details. Whether you work with an agent or talk directly to the owner, knowing the answers to these questions before you make an offer will help you evaluate properties and get to closing faster.

1. “What are the neighbors like?”

Young couple looking at homes

Are your neighbors friendly? Are they mostly retired? Are they young with a love of partying late into the night? Knowing if you’re joining a tight-knit community of people in the same stage of life as you or if your neighbors are solitary members of a different generation is just one important step in evaluating your neighborhood.

2. “Why are you moving?”

Asking the home seller why they are moving may give you a better idea of the area. They may tell you that they’re looking to relocate closer to work or that they’ve been offered a new job in a new location. While it’s unlikely that the seller will disclose that their move is due to poor schools or an unsafe community, asking this question can help you read between the lines and determine if you should continue your search for homes.

3. “On average, how much are the utility bills?”

You’ll want to have an idea of how much more (or less) you can expect to budget for your electric, gas and water. If you plan on updating the house after you buy, you might be able to cut your monthly budget with energy efficient home improvements that are eligible for a tax credit.

4. “How old are the appliances?”

Knowing the age of appliances will help you determine if you’re at a greater risk for flood damage due to the failure of an old water heater, dishwasher or washing machine. You may want to purchase a home warranty to cover repair or replacement of the appliances if they break down after you buy the home.

5. “What is your timeline?”

It can be easy to get swept up in a buying frenzy, especially if there are multiple competitive offers for the home. If you aren’t prepared to move quickly on a sale you may be unable to secure a mortgage or may end up with two mortgages while you wait for your home to sell. Knowing a seller’s timeline can give you time to figure out how to clean up your credit, sell your home, or budget for a quick sale.

These basic questions are an important part of purchasing a home. Do you have the tools, tips and checklists to successfully buy a home directly from the owner?