In that moment when you fall in love with a home, it’s almost impossible to let logic rule. Emotions run rampant, resulting in cosmetic aspects winning over financial aspects. We see it all the time in our real estate practice.
And, we sympathize. Especially when you’re tiring of looking at home after home; when you finally find “the one,” it’s hard not to get excited. But, it’s dangerous.
Far too often we see buyers neglect to get the important questions every homebuyer should ask that may seem routine but aren’t.
How old is the . . .?
If in doubt about the age of any of the home’s components and the home inspector isn’t able to help you figure it out, let me know; I’m happy to ask the homeowner for you.
This is especially important for appliances, such as the water heater (which has a life expectancy of 8 to 20 years, according to Lowe’s), the roof (the average life span of a roof from 20 to 50 years, depending on material) and the gas furnace, which gives up the ghost after about within 15 to 20 years.
It’s important to know how much life is left in the home’s components so you aren’t face with a large financial outlay when you least expect it.
What are the average monthly utility bills?
Americans pay, on average, $117.65 a month for electricity. Naturally, this varies depending on geography and other factors.
As a buyer, you may get a range of monthly prices from different sellers. This is because there are ways of mitigating high utility bills. Some homes are constructed more efficiently, others have lowers bills because the homeowners made upgrades and then there are those that seem to bleed electricity because of cheap construction techniques.
Water, electricity, gas, sewage, garbage and electric bills can take a major bite out of your housing budget each month, so get the answers to this important question before you agree to purchase the home.
Buying a condo?
If it’s a condo that’s snagged your heart, there are a number of very important questions to ask. Chief among them is ascertaining the amount of condo maintenance fees you’ll be responsible for each month.
But, that’s just the beginning. How healthy is the community’s reserve fund? What percentage of the units are tenant occupied?
Reading the rules and regulations will answer many other miscellaneous questions, such as whether or not pets, and how many, are allowed in the community, whether you will be allowed to run your business out of your home, noise rules and more.
The HOA meeting minutes are full of useful information as well. One of the first things to look for are complaints from homeowners – look even more carefully to see if these complaints are voiced repeatedly, over the course of several meetings. If so, it may be an indication of an unresponsive board of directors.
Feel free to ask all the real estate-related questions you have – we’re happy to answer them all.