Buying a house is an exciting venture, but it is also a stressful one. What many don’t realize is that both buyers and sellers of this type of property have rights. Both parties should be aware of these as it will help to know what to look for when buying a house and help to ask the right questions so they can be more informed. House buying is a big decision and therefore should be an informed one.

The Three Pillars of Protection

Every province has their own rules and regulations when it comes to real estate transactions. Ontario has its own specific rules. According to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (REC))  there are “3 Pillars of Protection. That applies to brokers and salespeople in the realty industry in Ontario. These three pillars are’

  • Knowledge
  • Professional Standards
  • Insurance

When buying a house, you will most likely use the services of a realtor. You want to look for one that is reputable and is going to abide by these three pillars of protection.

Top Ten Questions to Ask When Buying a House

There will surely be more than ten questions that you would like answers to concerning a home that you are considering buying. But, some will be more important than others. You want to choose your questions carefully and base them on queries about things that are not evident. You also want to make your questions are specific, so you don’t get vague answers.

For example, you could ask: “ Has the roof ever been replaced? Or you could ask when was the last time the roof was replaced — same basic question but one that could get two different answers. The first could get a simple yes. Whereas the second is going to get a specific answer.

1. When Where the Windows Last Replaced?

Again don’t ask if they need replacing. It may be a matter of opinion, and the present homeowner may not consider window replacement to be a priority.

2. Have There Ever Been Any Issues With Downed Trees in the Vicinity of the Home?

Pay attention to the exterior of the house especially as to the number of trees that are nearby of the house and their condition as well as age. In Ontario for example, there has been an increase in severe storms creating a lot of down tree damage. This is something you may need to consider depending on the environment that the house resides in.

3. Has There Ever Been or Are There Any Problems with Pests?

This is an important question because it not something you are likely going to be able to determine on a visual inspection. But pets include those such as termites, cockroaches, carpenter ants, and even mice or raccoons.

4. Is The Homeowner Aware of Any Potentially Dangerous Substances in the Home?

Dangerous substances include asbestos, mold and even radon or lead paint. These may not be as prominent in newer homes, but there are still many people who want to invest in old farm homes or century homes. In these cases, this is one of the more important questions.

5. Has the homeowner ever had to deal with any type of natural flooding?

The answer to this question may spur the potential homebuyer into asking additional questions if the answer is yes. The buyer will want to know when and what the circumstances were. It may have been as a result of a storm years ago. Or it may be as a result of the municipality not maintaining the drainage system they are responsible for. In a case like this, the buyer will want to know that the problem has been rectified.

6. Has the homeowner had to deal with any plumbing problems?

You want to know if there has been any ongoing issue with the plumbing system in the house. It is natural that a plumbing problem may occur on occasion, but if there have been several plumbing problems they as a buyer, you want to be aware of these.

7. Has the homeowner had to deal with any electrical problems?

Again this is similar to the plumbing. You want to know if there have been any wiring issues or whether there have been any upgrades to the electrical system even if they are minor, and if these were done by a qualified electrician.

8. Has the Home Ever Experienced a Fire?

An insured home would be repaired after fire through the insurance company, but a new buyer may want to know this has occurred. If so when, and what was the cause.

9. How Old are the Appliances?

Quite often a home is sold with the appliances. The home buyer should know how old these are, and if they have ever been repaired. They may also want to know if there is still a warranty on them?

10. Have There Been Any Additions Or Major Renovations Done On The Home By The Current Homeowner?

If so the home buyer wants to know who did these and if there any existing warranties. They also want to know if these required a permit and was a permit obtained.

What Should I Know Before Buy A House

There are plenty of things that you need to know before buying a home. It can be easy to forget about a lot of these during the viewing of a home which is usually done rather quickly. The two checklists below can be used as a handy resource during the home viewing and afterwards before deciding on whether this is the home for you or not.

Home Buyer’s Home Viewing Checklist

The following chart can serve as a checklist when viewing the home.

Printable House Exterior Checklist

ITEMIN GOOD CONDITIONBAD CONDITIONDATE RECTIFIEDCOMMENTS
Has the exterior of home been repainted or resided?
Does the exterior of home show evidence of patchwork?
Are the basement window wells cleaned and maintained?
Is the ground sloping away from the house?
Are there any large trees near the home which roots could interfere with drainage system?
Is the driveway and walkways in good condition?
Are the property lines defined?
Is the roof in good condition?
Is the chimney in good condition?
Are the eaves in good condition?

Printable House Interior Checklist

ITEMIN GOOD CONDITIONBAD CONDITIONDATE RECTIFIEDCOMMENTS
Do the ceilings appear to be in good condition? Are there any water stains. Is there any sagging
Do the light fixtures appear to be newer and in good shape?
Do the walls show any sign of damage or water damage?
Do the floors seem to be solid? Is there any squeaking or sagging?
Do any of the water fixtures seem to be leaking?
Are there excess extension cords indicating there are not enough outlets?
Are there any strange odours in the home, like a musty smell?
Do the windows appear to be in good condition? Are there any drafts coming from them?
Does there appear to be enough storage space?
Are the permanent fixtures up to date?
Are any stairs in good shape and safe?
If there is an oil tank is it in good condition and how old is it?
How much parking is available?

Printable House Amenities and Location Checklist

This checklist can be used as a review sheet at any time before deciding to buy a specific home.

QuestionResponseComments
What is the reputation of the pertinent schools in the area?
What is the upkeep of the neighbourhood like?
What are the crime statistics like for the area?
Are there any registered sex offenders in the vicinity?
Will the location of the house have any effect on your vehicle insurance?
Is it close to all the amenities?
Is there adequate public transportation?
Are there good medical services in the area?
Is it close to recreational activities?

Items listed on these check sheets are common ones. You may have additional ones that you want to add to them that are specific to the needs of you and your family.

Resources

http://www.reco.on.ca/firsttimebuyer/
https://thriftdiving.com/30-questions-to-ask-before-buying-a-house/
https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/real-estate/buying/6-questions-to-ask-before-and-during-your-home-inspection/
http://www.canadianpersonalfinance.com/40-questions-you-need-to-ask-before-you-buy-a-house.html