Before making an offer on a house, you want to be absolutely sure that it’s “the one.” But with so many options out there, how do you find your perfect match?
Finding the right home involves research, so you’ll need to ask the right questions. That way you know you’re making a competitive offer on a home that you can afford — and meets your long-term needs.
To weed out the duds from the diamonds, here are 15 questions to ask when buying a house.
1. What’s my total budget?
It could be a waste of time to start looking at houses without understanding how much house you can afford. There are additional costs to consider other than the sales price, such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association dues, ongoing home maintenance and any renovations you want to do.
“With all the other added expense that comes with homeownership like repairs and homeowner’s association fees, you may not see the financial benefits for several years,” says Wendy Mays, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Chula Vista, California.
Showing the seller you have the financial means to buy their house is important if you want your offer to be accepted. This means getting preapproved for a mortgage.
“Not only does it give the buyer an idea of what they can afford but it gives the Realtor assurance that they’re showing a qualified buyer a home,” says Joey Sampaga, a Realtor with Keller Williams Legacy One in Phoenix. “It shows you’re not wasting the seller’s time.”
2. Is the home in a flood zone or prone to other natural disasters?
A property that’s in a flood zone or other natural disaster area may require additional insurance coverage. For example, homes that are located in a federally-designated, high-risk flood zone require flood insurance. (Find out whether a property is in a high-risk flood zone using FEMA’s Flood Map Service.)Likewise, if you’re buying a home in California where earthquakes are common, you may need to get earthquake insurance. Another tip: Make sure you purchase enough homeowners insurance to cover the cost of completely rebuilding your home if it’s destroyed. If you’re underinsured, you could be left footing a massive bill to repair or rebuild your home if a major disaster hits.