10 Questions to Ask When Buying a Home
Buying a new home is exciting, but it can also be quite stressful. If you're new to the process, you probably have a million questions, but if you're like a lot of homebuyers, you may not even know where to start. In fact, like most things in life, you don't know what you don't know, right? With this in mind, we've come up with some questions to ask when buying a house.
1. Is there an HOA fee?
If you're wondering what to ask when buying a house, make sure you always understand if there's a homeowners' association (HOA) involved. HOAs charge fees, which can be quite variable and cover a number of different things. Depending on the size of your unit and the amenities the HOA provides, you could be facing substantial HOA costs, which should be factored into your monthly budget above and beyond the cost of your mortgage, insurance, and utility fees.
2. How much do monthly utilities cost?
Speaking of utilities, this is one of the most important things to ask when buying a house, but it's often an overlooked question. Given that it can get pretty cold in Toronto in the winter, you need to know you can afford heating costs without spending your entire paycheck with the utility company. Most of the time, you can call the utility company and ask for monthly, quarterly, or annual average costs for the past few years so you can get an idea what your utility costs will run you.
3. What's the history of past insurance claims?
Insurance is another question often overlooked. If there have been a lot of insurance claims, you might be setting yourself up for disaster. What caused the claims? Was there a busted pipe in the winter? Does the basement flood when it rains? Has the roof caused leaks that lead to moisture and mold? It's important to not only understand how much your insurance will be, but also why past claims were made.
4. How old is the roof?
A well-kept roof can last 25 to 30 years, but the key is maintaining it properly and having it inspected and repaired at least once, if not twice, a year. If your roof is at the end of its life, or if it hasn't been well-cared for, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars to get it up to speed. Make sure the roof is thoroughly inspected by a professional.
5. Are the gutters in good condition?
Gutters may not seem like a big deal, but they can cause a lot of serious damage if they're not in good condition, particularly in the winter. Water can freeze and backup into the roof causing something known as an ice dam. This can lead to water damage, mold, and other costly effects.
6. How long has the home been on the market?
If the house has been on the market, you might have more leverage in your price negotiations. Houses that have sat on the market for a long time are usually accompanied by motivated sellers who just want to unload the property.
6. What's included in the sale?
Are you expecting the house to come with kitchen appliances, a washer and dryer, or the kids' play equipment that's currently in the backyard? Make sure you understand how much of the existing equipment will stay with the property once you sign on the dotted line.
7. Is there documentation on warranties?
Many warranties will transfer to the new owner, assuming there's documentation. This includes everything from the roof to the HVAC system and everything in between. Anything that's expensive should come with warranty documentation.
8. How much are property taxes?
Don't forget to factor in the cost of property taxes with your budget analysis. The total cost of your home could change significantly if you're in an area where property taxes are high.
10. How much storage will you have?
Storage space is often an afterthought until people realize they don't have any. Be sure to pay attention to closets, garage spaces, and places where you can utilize vertical creativity to keep your home organized. If you don't see storage potential, you might find yourself regretting your purchase down the line.
If you're not sure which questions to ask before buying a house, lean on the guidance of a skilled, reputable real estate agent who can help you through the process. At The Suzy Goldstein Team, we're here to make sure you find the right house and have all of your questions answered. Learn how we can help you find your perfect place today!