Americans continue to have home buying fever thanks to continued low mortgage interest rates. However, in order to help eager home buyers avoid costly surprises down the road, GoBankingRates has put together a list of the most important – but often overlooked – questions home shoppers need to ask before committing to a home purchase and long-term mortgage debt.
1. Is renting vs. buying a better option?
Before you spend too much time looking for your dream home, you need to weigh all your options. David Bakke from the website Moneycrashers.com suggests you ask yourself the question, “Is renting vs. home buying a better option?” Depending on your situation, you may not be ready to buy, may need some time to save for a down payment, or may live in a more expensive housing market.
“If you have a lot of debt, a low credit score, or don’t have much money saved up, renting may be a better option,” advises Bakke. Someone with these factors may have to wait a few more years to be in a better financial situation before they are able to obtain a mortgage loan.
2. What is the neighborhood’s crime rate?
The second thing regarding what questions to ask when buying a house is the safety of your neighborhood and town. David Bakke sums it up great, “What is the crime rate in the area?”
3. What are my home ‘needs’ and ‘wants’?
According to Steve Aaron, a Beverly Hills realtor featured on HGTV’s “Selling LA,” “No property is perfect. What are your ‘deal breakers’ vs. your wants. Where are you willing and able to compromise?” The point here is to have a shorter check-list of “must-haves” when looking at potential homes.
4. Where is the seller’s disclosure?
Even if you fall head-over-heels for a house, don’t be punch-drunk in love with it. Unlike a person, a home is just four walls — and there are plenty out there with many more being built. Mr. Aaron recommends to, “Ask the listing agent if there are any seller disclosures (known defects of material facts that can affect desirability or value) before you write an offer.” Just like a relationship, you need to take time to know your future partner, or in this case, your future home.
5. Can I make the needed home renovations or additions?
If you are looking to add on to your home or do renovations, it is wise to check the house’s zoning or area disclosure. Steven Aaron told me, “Know if the property is located in any type of historic or preservation area or area disclosure. There may be limits on adding on, aesthetics etc.”
Based on my personal experience from litigation and headaches caused by neighbors, homeowners’ associations and local, state and federal government regulations, a little homework goes a long way.”