When you’re on the lookout for a new home, you can get caught up in all of the fun of house hunting. ‘What beautiful stone work,’ you may think, or ‘I love those windows!’ Naturally, many of us fall in love with our homes on an aesthetic level first, but before you go head over heels there are a few things that you'll need to consider first. Be sure to ask your realtor these all-important questions:
House Hunting? Ask Your Realtor These Five Questions
1. What Is The Age & Condition Of The Roof?
The first thing that you need to ask your realtor about is any sign of damage to the house, particularly the roof (as well as the foundation). Replacing a roof (and potentially ceilings and floorboards) is pricey, and any damaged should be disclosed to you, the buyer. Even if your realtor gives the all clear, look for roof leaks in the property yourself, which are marked out by dark stains on the walls and ceilings, signs of mold, or uneven floors and bulging ceilings. Another telltale sign could be the smell of mildew, especially in areas that aren't typically damp, such as the attic.
2. What's The Neighborhood Like?
Often, people find their perfect homes, and dive straight in without having much knowledge of the actual neighborhood that it’s in. Sure, you may have lived nearby, but do you know what it’s really like? If the area is sketchy or you don't feel comfortable, you may want to pass. To do your own homework, check out these online resources:
- AreaVibes, www.areavibes.com
- City Data, www.city-data.com
- Trulia, www.trulia.com
3. How Energy Efficient Is It?
Older homes tend to rank pretty low when it comes to energy efficiency. Outdated appliances, finishes and fixtures can be a drain on the wallet. But regardless of the age of the home itself, it's important to find out the age and condition of such workhorse items like the water heater, boiler or furnace, central air conditioning unit (if applicable) and major kitchen appliances such as the refrigerator and dishwasher. Windows and doors should be checked for leaks and drafts, and you'll want to make sure the entire home is insulated properly.It's important to carry out a DIY energy audit (or get the professionals to help) if you want to know the low-down in your potential home.
4. Is It Big Enough For Your Family?
OK so this seems like a pretty obvious ask of any realtor, but we're not just talking about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms here. Are you looking for a home with an open concept? Do you want all of the bedrooms solely on the second floor? Is there space for a home office, play room or man cave? How about the yard, is there enough room for the kids to play, to erect a swing set or a pool? Is the basement finished, or could it be? Are there any outbuildings for garden tools, sports equipment and the like? Think about space requirements you'd like to have in your dream home, then discuss them with your realtor.
5. How Much Improvement Does It Need?
When it comes to home improvements, looks are usually deceiving. A property can look dated and in need of TLC, but it may only be cosmetic. On the flip side, a newer home could have been built with subpar materials and poor workmanship. Once you find a home you'd like to make an offer on, call in a professional home inspector (your realtor can make recommendations for you). He or she will give the home a thorough look inside and out and advise you accordingly.
Remember--your realtor works for you, so don't be shy about asking questions. They want you to be happy in your home, and will work hard to get you what you want, and most importantly, what you need.