1. What’s wrong with the house?
While it’s always a good idea to get an inspection, it is also a good idea to obtain as much firsthand knowledge about your prospective property as you can. No one wants to buy someone else’s lemon — unless you’re into flipping…and even then, you should go into the situation being as well informed as possible.
2. Are there any foreclosures for sale in the area?
Know going in that sellers (and their agents) aren’t going to like this question all that much, but it’s still worth asking. After all, you can use this for leverage. A foreclosed home in the area is generally going to cost less, and that sheer fact introduces the opportunity for price competition that may allow you to offer up less of your own money. Score!
3. What is the neighborhood like?
While you’ll want to be sure to visit your prospective neighborhood on varying days and times, it’s always a good idea to ask the realtor for their take on the neighborhood. Your realtor should be able to tell you if the neighborhood is family-friendly or if new housing developments are possibly on the horizon etc.
4. Why is the owner selling?
Now, of course the realtor doesn’t have to answer, but you may be able to get them to hint at the circumstances. Are the homeowners finally retiring to Florida, have they found a new home and can’t carry two mortgages, or are their neighbors just unbearable?
5. Is there anything you would want to know about the house if you were buying?
Everyone’s wary of buying a home with a huge negative that they wished they had known about prior to purchasing. Are some high-rises going up that will soon block skyline views or was the home a former crime scene (hey, it happens)? Sometimes there are things that have happened in homes that new families come to habitat uninformed, but would have probably loved to know what happened there formerly.
6. How long has the property been on the market?
The length of time a property has been on the market has a huge and direct impact on a seller’s motivation to sell.
7. Exactly what is included in the sale?
Never ever assume a fixture (not even cabinet knobs) will automatically come with a home. Ask the realtor exactly what items will be included in the purchase of the home, and have those items outlined in the final contract.
8. Has property repeatedly changed hands?
Is there a new owner every 3 or 4 years? One can’t help but ask “why” if a home has a high turnover. It just makes sense when making such a large purchase to get as much info as you can in order to get the best home for your buck.
9. Have any major works been completed on the home and can you look at the planning and building consents?
You’ll definitely want to ask to see any applicable permits, building consents, or warranties for adjustments made to the home (if available).
10. Is this the seller’s prime residence or a rental property?
Figuring out if the property is a seller’s prime residence or an income property can tell you a number of things about a home, so it’s definitely worth asking. For example, if the property was used primarily for rentals the home may possibly have suffered a bit more wear and tear and some remodeling and upkeep may have been neglected due to long occupancies.