Prospective buyers need to arm themselves with as much information as they can find about a house they’re considering. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises once you move in. An open house offers one of the best opportunities to sniff around, listen to other potential buyers and explore all the nooks and crannies, but also to ply the host agent with questions.
Possessing a list of what you want to know either on a pad of paper or in your smartphone keeps these questions front of mind. You’ll make mortgage payments on this home for years to come; ask the right questions so you don’t sink into a “Money Pit.”
9 Essential Questions to Ask the Agent
1. How long has the home been on the market?
You can determine this yourself by checking on Trulia or Zillow, but you might ask anyway to see if all the answers match. One reason the property may have lingered on the market for a long time could be that an offer fell through due to financing.
2. Has the asking price changed?
If the cost has decreased since the initial listing, the seller’s agent won’t hesitate to tell you about that. That also signals that the price might be flexible. When the amount hasn’t changed for a long time, that’s an indication the seller might consider a lower offer.
3. What issues does the house have?
Ask for a disclosure statement, which reveals whatever the seller knows about the property. You should also request a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report from the seller. This lists insurance losses on a property going back seven years.
4. What do the utility bills run?
To prevent sticker shock, apartment renters need to know what it costs to heat and light an entire house. You can also use this information to formulate a future budget and make sure you’re comfortable with it.
5. Why are the owners selling?
The answer gives you valuable information that you may need later in order to negotiate. If the seller has to relocate because of a job, he might be more open to a lower offer. An older couple looking to downsize won’t be in as big a hurry to sell.
6. What are recent comparable sales?
A term used in the real estate industry, comparable sales are what homes in the area recently sold for. If this property’s price is much higher or lower than the comparable sales, something is amiss. A higher price may mean the seller has unrealistic expectations. A listing well under the others can spell trouble.
7. Does the property come with any special assessments or homeowner association fees?
The answer to this will give you a more accurate idea of how much you need to budget not just for the mortgage, but also for any additional costs.
8. What stays with the home?
You need to know whether you have to buy all new appliances, window treatments, light fixtures and anything else. But if the owner throws them in, then you’ll have a little more to spend on the house.
9. What can you tell me about the neighborhood?
If the schools are horrible, the area has a high crime rate or the next door neighbors are a nuisance, the selling agent won’t share those details. But he’s likely to divulge the demographics – families, retirees or young singles – quite readily.