When you’re attending numerous open houses, by the 8th or 9th viewing they can all start merging into one. But by asking the right questions, you can figure out if a home is a viable option for you, and what your approach might be for making an offer.
Keep this list of must ask questions for home buying in mind the next time you attend an open home.
1. Why are the owners selling?
Getting insight into why the house is on the market can give you leverage on price if you decide to make an offer. Agents may not be able to tell you why an owner is selling, but asking them straight out never hurts. Any situation where there is a forced sale or a deadline can work in your favor. If the owners are desperate to sell, they’re more likely to be flexible on price.
2. How many days has the home been on the market?
Popular houses get snapped up within a couple of weeks, so the longer a home sits on the market, the harder it can be to sell it. Ask the agent when it went on the market and if there have been any offers. If a house has been sitting for a while, and you are the only interested party, then there’s a good chance the owners will be open to negotiating a lower price.
3. What school district is the house in?
As a first-time homebuyer you may be looking for a home to raise your kids in. So you need to know what school district the house is in because it could be a deal breaker. Good schools always attract buyers, so even if you don’t plan on having kids in the future, you should still ask this question for resale value.
5. Have renovations been done?
Often a listing will mention if renovations have been done to attract buyers, after all, who can resist a new kitchen and a fresh coat of paint? But if it's not mentioned, it pays to ask the agent about the property’s renovation history. If there have been a lot of renovations, it may indicate problems with the structure. If you plan on doing repairs yourself, it’s a good idea to find out if there were any issues with getting approval.
6. Are there any current offers?
If there are a couple of offers on the table, then you’ll want to move quickly if you’re interested in the property. In this situation, you’ll need to put forward your best offer, so try to get as close to the sale price as possible. If you don’t know the sale price, then go as high as you can afford, and keep contingencies to a minimum. As a first-time home buyer, you will be in a strong position as you don’t have another home to sell.
Further tips for purchasing a home
Don’t feel you have to rush through an open house, take your time and make sure you do a thorough inspection. Remember to take notes as you go along so you can refer to them later. Even if a house isn’t right for you, asking questions can help an agent determine what you’re looking for and keep you in mind for future homes that come on the market.