Making an Offer

When you are buying a home, there are many problems that the seller is obligated to disclose. For example, in most states, it is illegal to withhold information about major physical defects on the property, but these disclosures don't always paint the entire picture of the home. Here are six questions you may want to ask that can offer additional insight about the prospective home before you make a final decision.

6 Questions To Ask BEFORE Making An Offer

1) Why is the seller selling the house? This question may help you evaluate the "real value" of the property. Is there something about the house the seller does not like? Is the location missing something they need, such as proximity to a hospital or grocery store? Do they need to sell quickly due to a family emergency? Knowing the seller's situation might help you when determining your offer price and the contract terms and conditions.

2) How much did the seller pay for the home? This question can, in some instances, help the buyer negotiate a better deal. However, it is important to remember that the purchase price is influenced by several factors, like the current market value and any improvements the seller may have made to the home. The original purchase price might not have anything to do with the current value of the house.

3) What does the seller like most about the property? By asking the seller what he or she likes most about the property, you might get some interesting information. In a few cases, what a seller likes the most about a home might actually be something the buyer is looking to avoid. For example, if the seller describes his house as being in a "happening community," the buyer might consider this a negative factor because the area may be too noisy or busy for his or her taste. Or if the seller talks about the wonderful amount of natural sunlight that shines in the bedroom each morning, but the buyer works the night shift and likes a dark bedroom, this could be valuable information. 

4) Has the seller had any problems with the home in the past? Any problems should be noted in the seller's disclosure, but it doesn't hurt to ask if the seller had any recent problems, such as a new leak coming through the garage door, or issue with the yard drainage after that heavy storm last week. Even if a problem has been addressed by the seller, it's best to know and check whether these items were repaired properly during your inspection period. 

5) Are there any noise complaints or problem neighbors? It's unlikely that a seller will actually admit to having a noisy neighbor, but you could ask about noisy barking dogs or heavy airplane traffic as another means of covering the noise complaint topic. You could also ask about the history of the neighborhood, ie. has it gone under any management changes, have the roads been re-paved recently, or are there plans for a new pool or clubhouse? The homeowners or condo association will be able to answer questions regarding the community as well. 

6) How are the public schools in the area? Because the value of a community is usually greatly influenced by the public schools in the area, finding out the seller's perception can give you some insight about the quality of the area's schools. Ask which school's their children have attended, and how it's been with commuting back and forth during school hours. 

Knowing all you can about a prospective home not only helps you decide if it's the perfect home for you and your family, but also helps determine what offer to make. Remember, your Realtor® can help you get your key questions answered and give you advice on how to evaluate your findings.