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Buying a New Home? Questions to ask...

Buying a home is an exciting milestone in a person's life. It is probably the most important and valuable purchase you will ever make so it is not a decision you should make without careful consideration.

When buying an expensive electronic item like a television or computer, you usually would not purchase the first one you see. You would most likely research the specs and features to make sure that the item can meet your specific needs. You may read reviews. You may even shop around and compare different items to get the best value. It should be no different with a home. Before purchasing your new home, you should have all the necessary information to guide you so there are no surprises after making the purchase. Oftentimes buyers end up regretting the purchase as they discover new information after they move in. To avoid this, take the time to learn as much as you can about your potential new home. Do not be afraid to ask your realtor probing, in-depth questions to make sure you have all the information you need to help you make your decision. For example, how old is the home? Why is the previous owner selling? How is the neighbourhood? You may find that the answers to these questions will make you more confident to make the purchase or they may change your mind entirely. Either way, you will make an informed choice. Reasons for selling If the home has a previous owner, one of the first questions you should ask your real estate agent is why is that owner selling? The answer to this question can give you some insight as well as potentially save you money. If the owner is selling because they are moving away for a new job and they want to sell within a specific time, they may be willing to negotiate on the price. If they are selling because they do not like the neighbourhood, this can be an indicator for you to better research the neighbourhood to make sure it is the right fit for you. You may also want to ask how long the previous owner had lived there. This might also cue you in on any potential problems. Questions about the neighbourhood Ask about the housing market in that particular neighbourhood. Is it a neighbourhood popular with buyers? Or are people always trying to sell and move out? This could let you know that the neighbourhood is undesirable and there is little resale value. The neighbourhood may be flood-prone, experiencing a stretch of foreclosures or a number of things that may be the reason for people not sticking around for long. The location of your potential home is also important because you want to make sure it is situated conveniently. Is it difficult to commute, is it near to schools, shopping centres, hospitals? Is it noisy? The answers to all these questions may help you decide whether or not to purchase. You should also take note of how long the home has been on the market. A home that is having difficulty finding a buyer may indicate problems. Hidden problems You will absolutely want as much information as you can get about the house itself. Legally, a seller has to disclose any problems with the house and give a truthful picture of the state of the property. However, there are dishonest sellers out there who will attempt to conceal problems with the property that you may not notice until after moving in. Ask about how many previous owners there were and how many times the house has been placed on the market. If the home has been bought and sold frequently over the years, this may indicate a problem that previous owners discovered. Some sellers will be honest but they will not volunteer information unless you ask directly. Make sure you ask about damage to the property, potential repairs that may be needed, the previous owner's maintenance schedule or work that has been done on the home. You may find that some are issues you are willing to accept or they may be issues you cannot look past and you should continue house hunting. Also, be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of underlying or hidden problems. Mould or mildew will indicate water damage, wood dust may indicate termites or other insect damage. Take your time to inspect the property to avoid costly issues later down the road. Price Of course, the price of the home is important. You may find a home that you absolutely love but the price is suspiciously low or out of your budget. Be sure to ask the value of the home before you buy. A selling price way below the value of the home suggests that the owner is anxious to sell and get the property off his hands. This can indicate problems or it may be that the owner has to meet a deadline to sell before they move away. If the seller still lives in the property, you should also ask when they are due to move out. If they are trying to move quickly to perhaps take up a new job in a new city, they may be more willing to negotiate the price for a quicker sale and you can secure the property at a bargain. A price above the value of the home means that you are not getting value for money and you should look elsewhere. Extra costs Many prospective homeowners place to focus on making their monthly mortgage payments. While this is an important bill that you have to make sure you can pay, there are other costs associated with homeownership that you should also plan for. Ask your realtor about the extra costs the property might incur like property tax fees, maintenance fees and average utility bills. You may purchase your perfect home only to realize afterwards that you cannot keep up with all the additional fees. Asking about these costs beforehand will let you know whether it's within your budget or not. Also, consider the closing costs when purchasing a property. This will include legal fees and other fees incurred in making the transaction. This can cost thousands of dollars. Some sellers may agree to cover part or all of the closing costs. Ask your realtor to be sure. Get documentation Many new homeowners run into problems after the move in and realize they do not have the paperwork for important systems in the home. For example, if you purchase a home that is already outfitted with appliances, you will need the documentation in the event you have to contact the manufacturer for repairs or replacements. You may also need the paperwork that came with these appliances to show you how to properly maintain them. Ask your realtor if you can have the documentation for appliances and other mechanical systems in your new home. If after all the above considerations, you decide that a particular home is right for you, it is time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will be able to guide you on whether you should purchase at the asking price or make an offer that is lower. You may have to compete with other interested buyers. If you can, offering above the asking price may help you secure the property over the competition. Buying a home can be a long, frustrating process but with the right realtor, it doesn't have to be.

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