What to ask the Seller About the House You’re About to Buy
When it comes to forming your offer on a new house, your agent will be able to supply the answers to most of the questions you’ll have. But there are some things that only the seller can answer, as they are the ones that truly know what it’s like to live in the house. Here are some questions you can ask the seller to help you form your offer.
- Why did you decide to sell? This question lets you know how motivated they are to sell the property. Some are simply moving because they want an upgrade/downgrade, their kids moved out, or for other non-pressing reasons. Others need to sell and move as soon as possible. A motivated seller might bme more flexible on the overall asking price, or less focused on the finer details of closing.
- How much did you pay for the home when you bought it? This will help you to understand how much the local market has grown since the time of the purchase, and also might give you a clue to where the owner’s bottom line might be. A homeowner who purchased their home at a price lower than the local market now is one who is going to make a profit no matter what. These homeowners might be more flexible on price, and maximizing their returns might not be their top motivation.
- What is your experience of the neighborhood? The answer to this question might vary wildly, but there is just some information that you cannot get from a visit or a walk-through. If the seller is cagey about the general safety of the neighborhood, we recommend checking the local area crime statistics or at the local police station.
- How old is / are the:
- Water heater
- Septic tank / waste systems
- Heating and cooling
- When was the last time the home had major repairs, and who did them? Knowing who did the major work on the house can be important. Bad installation, wiring, and plumbing can end up costing a lot more money down the road. Make sure the owner used licensed contractors for their home repair, and if possible, look them up.
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The Home Buying Process Demystified
The home buying process is wrought with potential pitfalls and challenges, but when done right can be relatively painless. As champions of homebuying, we’ve created this step-by-step guide to help you through the process.
Below you’ll find an overview of the home buying timeline as well as the major components of the home buying process with links to the various steps, tools, and information to educate and empower your home search, discovery and purchase.
How Long Does it Take to Buy a Home?
Your timeline may vary, but the following is a good guideline
- Preparing to Buy a Home: 3-4 weeks
- Initial Search for Ideas: 1-4 weeks
- Building a Team: 1 week (overlap initial search)
- Pre-Approval of Mortgage: 12-48 hours
- The Home Search: 4-8 weeks (depending on criteria)
- Contract-to-Close: 14-60 days
So, on average a homebuyer will spend 30-60 days shopping and 14-60 days from contract to close. For some folks, the process can be extremely quick taking as little as 30 days total, while for others, the shopping period alone can last several months.
How Much Home Can I Afford?
The first step in the home buying process is understanding if you have the resources to buy a home. This includes knowing how much home you can afford, what type of down payment and monthly mortgage payment to budget for, as well as what type of loan program you’ll use to finance your new property.
Buying a home is a complicated process that requires a good deal of research. In the course of it, there will be a number of professionals and specialists involved. Once you’ve done your homework and assessed your resources, you’ll need to assemble your team.
Assembling Your Team
After you have a good understanding of your own wants, needs, and goals, it’s time to assemble your team and begin the home search! Who should be on your team? Who you’ll need to find on your own may vary, but the key team members could be: Real estate agent (could be a RealtorTM but not all agents are), home appraiser, title company, home inspector, insurance agent and mortgage lender.
When selecting the members of this team, take the same amount of care you would in choosing a home, because these people will be working for you to help you do just that. Trust & communication are key considerations in working with your team.
Sorting Out Your Finances
With the selection of a mortgage lender comes the application for mortgage pre-approval, a task that requires collecting the necessary financial paperwork to help obtain the approval. Once obtained the clock begins ticking because many pre-approval offers have a limited life-span before they expire.
Your Home Search
While you juggle the paperwork and timelines implicit to the process, remember that your team works for you. Now your search for (and discovering) your new home begins. Research, save, view and repeat. Remember Homes.com has all the tools you need to find and keep track of your favorite properties and home shortlist.
You’ve got a mortgage pre-approval in hand and have found a property you can afford to purchase and see yourself living in. Time for a purchase offer to a listing agent or seller!
Once you receive an acceptance offer, the due-diligence period starts a timeline of checks and tasks for final mortgage approvals, appraisals, inspections, and other requirements that would be stated in the terms of the contract.
Assessment, Conditions & Negotiation
Many consider this to be the most difficult part of the home buying process as it includes, but isn’t limited to, inspection, obtaining the final loan, purchasing insurance, and the potentially arduous negotiation. In this part of the process, every member of your team will be utilized, and the more homework you have done in building your team, the smoother this part will go. Those who haven’t conducted their proper due diligence could potentially see the purchase fall apart at this point.
Closing the Deal!
A successful closing requires all of the team players to come together at the same time, with the same agenda, on the same date, with numbers and figures that match. From the start of the home search to the home inspection and closing the deal, the entire home buying process can take most homeowners about three months.