There are obviously plenty of questions that you should ask sellers before you even put in an offer on a home. This will help ensure that you’re making a sound buying decision. After all, this is a huge investment that should only be done with due diligence.
But there’s a whole new set of questions that you should be asking your seller after the deal is sealed and you’re given the keys to your new abode. Having the answers to these questions will help ensure a seamless transition into your new home.
1. Are there any issues with the home?
Sellers are obligated by law to disclose known issues with a property, but it doesn’t hurt to ask your own set of questions. Have any major systems broken down in the past? How has the place been maintained? Has there ever been any damage from natural disasters, like fires or earthquakes? Has there ever been a grow-op on the property?
Ideally, you’ll get honest, detailed answers to these types of questions. This question and answer session will give you the opportunity to have any quirks pointed out that might cause some inconvenience or may even be unsafe, such as sticky doors, electric outlets in weird places, or a loose handrail. Ask the seller if there is anything that you should know or expect going forward before you even get the keys to the house.
2. Have there been any improvements made on the home?
As mentioned above, sellers need to provide a disclosure about any issues regarding the property they’re selling, and that includes any improvements that have been made in the past. Even if a problem was fixed, it’s still important to know that the issue did occur and how it was rectified.
Obtaining a disclosure statement from the seller is extremely helpful, but don’t just take it at face value. Use that written statement as an opportunity to ask more questions about any improvements made or other issues that might not be on paper. Perhaps the seller may think of something that they forgot to include in the disclosure statement, and asking more questions may trigger their memory.
3. Where is the main water shut-off, circuit box … ?
There are plenty of important components of a home that you will want to locate before the seller is off the hook. It’s critical for you to find out where these essential elements are, which can save you a ton of hassle.
For starters, you’ll want to know where the main water shutoff valve is, which would be helpful to know should a plumbing pipe burst at any time. You’ll also want to ask the seller where other things are located, such as the circuit box, sump pump, and gas shutoff valve.
And don’t forget to ask if the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector work (all homes should ideally come with these critical alarms already installed. Be sure to test them right after moving in, and if there are none present, your first item on the agenda is to have them installed right away.
4. What’s the neighborhood like?
While this is probably a question you’ll want to have an answer to before agreeing to purchase the home, you can ask for more detail once the deal is sealed. What are the neighbors like? Are there any local eateries or food markets that are recommended? What’s the nearest dog park? If you approach the seller in a light and conversational manner, you can get a ton of useful information about the neighborhood – both good and bad.
5. Will you be leaving anything behind?
It would be nice to know if the seller will be leaving anything behind before they go on their way. Some of these things you might find helpful, while others will just cause you more work.
For instance, you may be interested in keeping some of the furniture in the home if it suits your tastes, is in good condition, and fits well within the space. This can actually save you a bunch of money in new furniture expenditures. The sellers might even be willing to leave behind some plants and artwork that you may have fallen in love with.
On the other hand, some sellers may take off without having dealt with the removal of any junk and debris. That will leave you with the hassle of removing it yourself or paying a junk removal service to tackle it for you. Of course, your real estate agent will probably be able to bill the seller for the removal of any debris on the home, but this would just be an unnecessary nuisance.
6. When is garbage/recycling day?
Rather than waiting to see when the neighbors put their trash and recycling out at the end of their driveways, it would be helpful for you to know when garbage day is so you can be prepared for the next pick up.
The Bottom Line
It’ll take a little bit of time to get used to your new home, but gathering some key pieces of information will help you settle in a lot faster. Before cutting ties with the seller, make sure you’ve had the opportunity to have the above questions answered first.