Whether you are buying a home in New York, New Jersey, or anywhere else, you need to ask questions. When viewing a home for the first time, some questions naturally pop into your head, such as, “What does this switch do?” and “when was this addition built?”
Another significant question—is there an existing mortgage on the property—can also help refine your initial offer. You can learn a great deal by asking how many offers the seller has received. Bear in mind, how- ever, that the seller is not obligated to answer every question. If the seller is less than forthcoming, it might be in your best interest to find an honest and reliable realtor who is qualified to guide you on how to proceed.
Those questions are fine, but there are many others that are way more important. The wrong answers to the right questions can make or break a deal. You need answers to these questions before you can make an offer, and certainly before the sale is final.
You must know how much the property is actually worth, because knowing the fair market value of the property and how long it has been on the market can better inform your idea of a starting point. A realtor can explain how the fair market value is determined.
Asking frank questions about the condition of the home is also vitally important. Certain small repairs may be inevitable, and should not break a deal or sway your decision, but necessary larger repairs can drive up the cost of the house.
Avoiding questions with general answers will work to your ben- efit. For instance, asking a property owner about the condition of the roof can generate a very subjective response. Instead, ask how old the roof is. The answer will give you a better idea of how long the roof might last without repairs. Depending on the type of roof, you can generally expect the lifespan to be of anywhere from 15 to 50 years. This gives you a better idea of the financial commitment you are expected to make in the years ahead.
A house should be well insu- lated from the cold, and interior wall insulation is essential if you want to keep the noise level down within the home. Good insulation is both environmentally friendly and financially beneficial, ensuring a home that is energy efficient. Poor insulation can lead to skyrocketing heating and cooling costs. So, be sure to ask about the type of insulation in the house.
If the seller is going to leave appliances for you, ask when they were purchased and if any war- ranties will transfer with the sale. Trendy appliances are often visually enticing, but are only worth having if they perform well. Appliances that have been replaced recently are a plus for a potential buyer.
If you’re not familiar with the neighborhood, ask about the proximity of grocery stores, restaurants and shuls. You can also ask about demographics—are homeowners on the block couples, small families, large families, or singles.
Even if you don’t have children, it’s still a good idea to inquire about the schools in the area. Good schools are a general indi- cation of a good neighborhood. Award-winning schools in highly-regarded school districts are often part of the backbone of the best places to live in New York, or anywhere else. You’ll also want to know if the property is located in a flood plain.
The best course of action is to write down all of your questions, before you go to look at a home. Since it’s easy to forget to ask them when larger buying decisions are looming on the horizon.
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you avoid buyer’s remorse; and will add to the enjoy- ment of your new home in the years to come.