One of the best resources available for home buyers is to attend open houses. When doing so, they want to make the most of this. One of the ways of doing this is by asking the right questions.
- Being Prepared
- Disclosure Information
- Why is the Home Owner Selling?
- Are There Any Problems with the House?
- What Are the Utility Costs?
- How Long Has the House Been on the Market?
- Have There Been Any Offers?
- Will the Homeowners Negotiate?
- Do the Home Sellers Want to Sell Quickly?
- What is the Neighborhood Like?
- House Specific Questions
To ask the right questions, the home buyer has to be somewhat familiar with some of the basics of the home for sale. Normally a real estate agent will have pertinent information available in a hard copy. This will be set out in an easy to see a place such as the kitchen counter or dining room table. Part of the information should include the disclosure statement.
Every province in Canada has its own rules for what has to be disclosed when selling a house. In Ontario, for example, there is a Seller Property Information Statement. These are not mandatory by law, but home sellers are required to disclose some specific information about the house if it exists. Sellers must disclose if there are any latent defects. This information should be available in the information that the real estate agent is providing about the house. If this exists, then the potential home buyer will want to ask questions regarding this.
Why is the Home Owner Selling?
This is a question that some people are uncomfortable asking. In most cases, the homeowner will be honest with their reply. Some may say that it is too much upkeep, for example. Then the home buyer has to maybe consider this and determine if this would be an issue for them. In other cases, the homeowner may be reluctant to say because of personal reasons. The question should not be pressed further. In any event, quite often the homeowners are not present at the open houses. Questions are usually directed to the realtor.
Are There Any Problems with the House?
Even if there is no rule regarding disclosure, this is an important question to ask. If there have been problems with the plumbing, for example, this should be disclosed when asked about. It may be that there was a problem, but it has been rectified. Still, a potential home buyer should be aware of this. Not every homeowner will be willing to share this information. It might be better to rephrase the question as to what are the biggest problems the homeowner has had with the house. This is something the realtor should be able to answer.
What Are the Utility Costs?
New homeowners have to realize that there will be ongoing costs with home ownership. Which will include the utilities. Having an idea as to what these are will help the home buyer determine if they will be able to handle these costs comfortably.
How Long Has the House Been on the Market?
This is important because it gives some idea as to the perception that other potential home buyers may have had. If it has been listed for a long time, then there may be some concerns about this. Is it because it is priced too high, for example? An additional question that could be added to this one is how many open houses have been done. One of the reasons the house may be selling is purely from a marketing aspect. If there have not been other open houses, then the home may not be promoted as it should be.
Have There Been Any Offers?
There is no guarantee that the real estate agent is going to be forthcoming with this information. If they are then this is important information that at least shows that there has been some interest in the house.
Will the Homeowners Negotiate?
Usually, the realtor has a good idea as to whether the home sellers are going to remain firm on their sale price. The agent may give some idea as to how responsive the home sellers will be for negotiating.
Do the Home Sellers Want to Sell Quickly?
Home buyers may have better-negotiating opportunities if the home seller is anxious to sell. This can be tired in with the reasons they want to sell in the first place.
What is the Neighborhood Like?
Most real estate agents will do their homework when it comes to the area the home for sale is in. They should have a good handle on what the neighbourhood is like. They will know if it is a family neighbourhood or if it is made up mostly of seniors. Others things that are important about the neighbourhood are:
- Are there schools close by and what is the education system like for the area?
- What are the amenities like that are close by?
- Are there hospitals in the vicinity?
- What is public transportation like?
- How much traffic is there on the street that the home resides on.]?
These may all be important questions for the homebuyer to help them decide.
House Specific Questions
Once the general questions are out of the way then, potential home buyers should consider questions as they pertain to each room of the house.
Home buyers will want to know if there have been any recent renovations done to the kitchen. Also what appliances are going to be included with the sale. How old the appliances are is another question to ask.
Even if the basement is unfinished, there are questions that should be asked. Such as if it ever floods and if there is a sump pump installed.
Home buyers should know what is under the carpets. They don’t want any surprises if they do buy the house and decide to lift the carpets.
Windows are an important component of the house. If they have recently been upgraded, there may be a warranty that comes with them. The potential home buyer should ask if the warranty is transferrable.
Careful inspection of the outside of the home is important during an open house. At least when it comes to asking questions. Such as when the roof was last replaced.
Along with these questions, there will be several others that may arise as the potential home buyer does a walk-through at the open house.