Buying a house will probably be one of the most important moments of your life. That’s why before you make the offer to purchase, you need to make sure that is the house you want. But you might be wondering, how can I find out if this is the right place for me? Does it have everything I need? Well, the only way to get all your answers is by knowing which questions to ask when buying a house.
The process of purchasing a property can be long and very tiring. It can take months from the time you start saving up money for the down payment until you are ready to sign a contract. But, the key if you want to succeed is to be patient. Take your time applying for a mortgage, looking for a real estate agent, and go house hunting at your own pace.
Once you have a couple of potential properties on your list, you still have to do the most crucial part, asking the right questions. In this regard, many people wonder what to ask when buying a house. To help you out, below, we have created a list of questions you need to keep in mind when purchasing your next home.
8 Questions to Ask When Buying a House
We know that you might be thinking, “when I know what to ask when buying a house, who should I talk to?” In this case, your best source of information is your real estate agent. Don’t worry if you have many things to ask, that’s why you hire them. Don’t be shy and clear all your doubts before purchasing your next property.
1. What is the budget for my purchase?
This is the most important question you need to ask, even before you start house hunting because otherwise, you’ll end up looking at properties you can’t afford. Keep in mind that the cost of a house does not only involve its price. You’ll also have to pay for taxes, closing costs, homeowners insurance, possible repairs, inspection, and maintenance.
If you don’t want to get stuck carrying more debt than you expected, you need to be careful. One thing you can do is talk with your financial advisor to find out what your budget is. You can also ask your real estate agent what costs you need to prepare for. Then, you only need to do some basic math to know which properties you can afford.
2. How much is the down payment?
One of the most vital questions to ask when buying a house is how much is the downpayment. That’s because this amount is something you will have to pay out of your pocket. Even though the downpayment could vary between five to twenty percent of the property price, we recommend saving as much as you can.
For instance, if you already answer our first question and find out you can afford a house around $300,000, you should save for a downpayment between $30,000 and $60,000. This means you at least have to save ten percent of the purchasing price for your down payment. Also, remember that having a large sum saved for the downpayment will make it easier to get a pre-approved mortgage.
Note: Under some circumstances, you can buy a home with no down payment in Ontario, although this is rare.
3. What are the closing costs?
Since we are talking about what to ask a realtor when buying a house, we need to mention the closing costs. Many first-time homeowners ignore that apart from the downpayment before, you sign the contract, you will need to pay the closing costs. The closing costs include attorney fees, title insurance, appraisals, and taxes, among others. All of these you will have to pay out of your pocket. That’s why you need to save up for this expense before purchasing a property.
4. Is the property located in a flood zone?
One of the unavoidable costs you will have to pay when buying a house is homeowners insurance. Even when most properties will only need standard coverage, the protection you need depends on several factors. One of them is what hazards is your property exposed to. In this regard, you should find out if your home is located in a flood zone. If that is the case, you will have to get a special insurance policy.
This also applies to homes that are prone to other natural disasters, such as earthquakes and wildfires.
5. Why is the owner selling the property?
The reason why you should find out why the owner is selling the property is that it can help you out during the negotiation. For instance, if the seller has been in the market for a long time, you might be able to get a good deal. However, if the seller is not in a rush to move, they won’t be so flexible. If you feel uncomfortable asking this question, you can likely get your answer through your realtor.
6. How old are the appliances?
The worst-case scenario when you move into a house is finding out your major appliances (i.e. the stove, water heater, or air conditioner) are broken or need repairs. To avoid that situation, you need to ask how old are the appliances and major systems. It is equally important to ask about life expectancy. That way, you will know if any of them need replacement. If you want to go even a step further, you can hire an inspector.
7. What is the neighbourhood like?
Even though we are sure that you might have done some research while you were house hunting, now, it’s time to find out how it will be like when you start living there. This is one of the things your realtor can help you with. Ask them to find out some key information, including crime rates and school ratings. You can also get some stats on the internet.
If you’re looking for a home in the Greater Toronto Area, check out this post for an overview of the region’s best neighbourhoods.
8. What will I get with the purchase?
It’s very important to inquire about what’s included in your home’s purchase price. Some homeowners assume they will get all the appliances and lighting fixtures. However, what you will get in the purchase depends on the laws of the province where you are buying the house. Sometimes you can find this information on the listing. Otherwise, you will have to ask your real estate agent.