Open houses are a great opportunity for home buyers to not only see a property first-hand, but also ask questions. The more you know, the better your decisions can be. Here are the top 14 questions to ask at an open house, during a virtual home tour or if you meet with the seller.
1. What renovations have been done?
Knowing about home renovations and improvements can give you insight into how well the current owner has taken care of the property. Ask about recent updates like kitchen appliances, heating systems and insulation.
2. What repairs are needed?
Sellers are usually required to disclose information about the property's condition. It's important to know what, if any, repairs are needed. If the fixes are big-ticket items (a new furnace, for example), you may decide the house isn't right for you. Ask questions so you can do more research and make an informed decision.
3. What ongoing maintenance is required?
Home upkeep is another essential question to ask at an open house. Ask questions about special maintenance requirements, pest control and landscaping costs. Knowing this information will help you better understand what kind of costs or responsibilities come with owning this particular home — especially if you will be maintaining the home from afar.
4. Has there been any water damage?
Water damage can cause serious structural problems and should not be overlooked when buying a home. If there has been damage, you'll want a qualified home inspector to provide an estimate of how much money you may need to spend to repair it.
5. Are there any safety concerns?
Look carefully for safety hazards (faulty stair treads or broken pavement, for example) and ask about any of your concerns. A qualified home inspection should turn up issues around wiring or plumbing, but you can ask about any potential problems.
6. What are the heating and cooling options?
The home's heating and cooling options are essential for maintaining comfortable temperatures throughout the year. Ask about HVAC systems, maintenance and annual costs to give you peace of mind.
7. Is this a good community to live in?
When shopping for a home, remember you're also "buying" the neighborhood. So ask questions at an open house about neighborhood organizations, nearby stores and businesses, and local events to get a sense of whether it's a place you'll feel comfortable.
8. Is this a safe neighborhood?
The area surrounding your potential new home matters just as much as its interior features — so ask about crime rates and schools. You'll want a neighborhood that feels safe and enjoyable for everyone in the long term.
9. What kind of taxes will I pay?
Taxes vary greatly by state and county, so don't forget to ask about taxes that come along with owning this property so that they don't surprise you down the line! Knowing the amount of property tax and other fees can help determine if homeownership is right for your budget.
10. How long has it been on the market?
A home's time on the market can be an indicator of whether you might be getting into a bidding war — or a tipoff that other home shoppers have spotted reasons for not buying. You should ask why the current owner is selling their home and get a history of the home, possibly even names of previous owners and the home builder. Having this knowledge allows you more time to strategize your offer accordingly.
11. Has the list price changed?
You should also find out how many times the price has changed since the home was first listed. Info like this might tell you if the list price is flexible, which you can use to your advantage.
12. What financing is available for this home?
If financing is part of your purchase process, it's important to ask questions about available options during an open house visit. Questions about potential down payment assistance, types of mortgage rates from lenders and tax credits and deductions will give you a better understanding of what kind of financial commitment is required when purchasing a new home.
13. Is there room for expansion?
If you're loving the home but you need more space, you can ask what kind of expansion options might be available. The homeowner may have already explored the idea and the agent may be able to offer ideas of how to increase the size and value of the home.
14. Which appliances are included?
Ask about which appliances come with the house, how old they are and about their condition. Find out what kinds of warranties exist so that you can get an idea of when they might need to be replaced.
Get the information you need at an open house
Buying a home means asking lots of questions so you're confident that you're making an informed decision — whether you're buying your primary home or your second home.