People who are shopping for the perfect home usually want all the home buying tips they can get. The home buying process can often be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. But no matter how many times you’ve been through home buying, every house you look at is unique and requires a new perspective. Real estate agents can provide some home buying tips and insight, but sometimes people choose to tackle house hunting alone. If you decide not to use a realtor, use these home buying tips to make sure you’re asking all of the right questions and getting the right answers. These simple home buying tips should get your house hunt started in the right direction:
Home Buying Tips
Questions a Realtor Might Ask About A Potential Property
Tell me about the roof.
Replacing a roof can cost anywhere from $2,000-$12,000 or more. It’s important to know the exact condition of a roof before you buy a house. Get as many details as you can about the roof, including:
- Type of roof – Roofs are made in several different styles and made out of a variety of materials. Make sure you know what you’re getting and what the maintenance costs might be.
- General condition – This should be examined closely at the time of your inspection by a certified professional, but take a look at the exterior of the roof and ask the listing agent about any noticeable damage.
- Age – How old is the roof?
- Recent repairs – Has the roof undergone any maintenance recently? Are there receipts detailing exactly what was done and how much it cost?
- Chimney - A chimney that has not been properly maintained can cause a lot of costly safety issues. Ask to see any documentation of regular maintenance, and be sure to have your inspector look for signs of a chimney fire. If a fire has occurred, it could threaten the structural stability of the chimney and may need to be replaced.
Tell me about the utility systems.
Repairing or installing a new heater, cooling unit, pipes, water or insulation can take a lot of work. That’s why it’s important to ask about:
- Electrical – What is the rate of the electricity flow in the house? This is also called amperage or how many amps a house has. A modern house should have anywhere from 100A-200A. Older homes may have as little as 60A. The more systems you’re planning to run concurrently (central air, TVs, computers, microwaves, etc.) the more amps you’ll need to power those devices.
- Plumbing – Do the faucets work properly? Have the listing agent show you the water flow from each faucet in the house. Drips or leaks can be expensive. How old is the hot water heater and what is the size? What material are the pipes made of? Has anything been repaired recently? Is everything up to current code?
- Water service – Don’t wait ’til the water runs dry…in fact, make sure you ask if it ever has. Zing! blog contributor Clayton Closson advises to make sure the sump pump works if there’s one in your potential home. He’s had several problems with his sump pump but says there’s a way to test the pump even if there isn’t any water in the pit. Simply fill the pit up to the point where the sump pump would turn on. If it doesn’t turn on, you might have a problem.
- Heating – What type of heat is available? Oil, electric, steam, baseboard combination, heat pump are all possible options. Find out the age of the systems and if any recent repairs have been done.
How much are utilities?
The changing seasons often bring extreme temperatures. This highs and lows can often result in expensive heating and cooling bills. It’s important to know exactly what the current homeowners pay each month in utilities. Sellers who aren’t trying to hide something should be more than willing to share their utility bills with you.
What’s the neighborhood like?
The area surrounding your home can be just as important as the home itself. Picket Report is a trusted Quicken Loans sister company and is a great online tool you can use to research a potential neighborhood. To make sure your dream home isn’t located in a not-so-dreamy neighborhood, be sure to ask about:
- Schools – Even if you aren’t planning on starting a family of your own, the school district that your house is in is very important. Your future buyers may have children and a bad school district can be a deal breaker. Education.com is another resource you can use to learn about a school district’s test scores and read parent reviews.
- Crime – No one wants to live in a scary neighborhood. Are street lights working properly? Are the streets crowded and noisy? Do your research about recent crime rates and try to talk to the neighbors if possible to get the true account of any bad things happening in or around the neighborhood.
- Lifestyle – How close is your home to restaurants, public transportation, parks & playgrounds, shopping – all of the things that will make your life easier and more enjoyable. Will you have to travel long distances to get to the things that you like to do?
Follow these guidelines to make sure you’re getting a completely informed perspective of your potential home. If you’re using a realtor, use this list to make sure your realtor is asking all of the necessary questions. A home is a big commitment, but the search can be pleasant and the outcome more enjoyable if you take care to ask the right questions up front.
Amber Hunt is a writer for Quicken Loans, an amazing place to work. Find out more about being a part of our team at Quicken Loans and learn how we Amaze our clients.