Finding a house with few to no issues is almost impossible. Whether there is something apparent when looking at the house online or a few months down the road after the purchase, chances are something will come up. Some of those issues can either make it or break it when it comes to purchasing a house. To make the headache of house hunting a bit easier and less time consuming, there are ways to get that information into the open before starting a deal on a house. One sure fire way is to have a set of questions to ask the realtor, homeowner, or insurance agent about the house. To help get the list started, we have a few major concerns for homeowners that could have long-lasting effects on a house if not addressed properly and in a timely manner.
What Questions to Ask When Buying a House
- Is the property in a fault zone, sinkhole-prone area, etc.? In Florida this could be a life-saving question if you avoid a sinkhole-prone area. Areas with highly acidic rain are more prone to sinkholes since acidic rainwater is what breaks down the limestone and dolomite, the most common carbonate rocks in Florida. Once this breaks down, the earth disappears and if your house is near, or worse on top of, that area, it could disappear with the earth.
- Has a pipe ever burst or has there been other water damage in the history of the house? Evidence of a burst pipe or water damage is not always readily visible but can still have lasting effects. If there was water damage, ensure there is documentation regarding the repair of it and that there is no remaining mold or water damage in the surrounding area.
- Has the sewer ever backed up? Roots can find their way into sewer lines and cause a backup in the house and street. Most homeowner insurance policies don’t necessarily cover damage from sewer backups. Either set aside some money each year to have the sewer lines cleared to avoid damage or consult with your insurance agent about adding coverage for this damage to your coverage.
- How big is the water heater? Different size families require different size water heaters. Ensure the water heater is big enough for your family or if there is space to upgrade to a larger one.
- How old is the roof? Asphalt shingle roofing is the most common type and should be replaced about 25-30 years, on average. Other types of roofing needs replacement anywhere between 20 to 50 years. Either way, knowing when the roof or shingles were replaced gives you a good idea of when you will have to budget for the eventual repair or replacement.
- Any infestations or if there is carpet, what pets have been in the house? Especially important if any family members have allergies to cats, dogs, etc. whose dander and fur could be in the carpets or ventilation systems.
- Do the major appliance come with the house? If a house is advertising “appliances included” they may not be the same ones that are in the house when you tour it. Some sellers may try to make a quick buck before the final settlement by selling the high-end appliances in the house and replacing them with lower end models. Work with your real estate agent to ensure what you see in the house and on the contract are what you are expecting.
- Do the appliances and other equipment have documentation for them? This can tell you everything from the age of the appliances to instruction or user manuals, and potentially any remaining warranty information that you may inherit when purchasing them with the house. This can help identify which ones you may want to, or may need to, upgrade after the purchase or in negotiating the terms of the purchase.
- How safe is the neighborhood and what school district is it in? If you have a family or are planning on starting one, this is a very important factor to take into consideration when buying.
- What is the average monthly cost of utilities for the house? This can change from one location to another. Some houses retain heat more than others and therefore use more air conditioning to keep the inside temperature bearable. Another good idea is to ask when the peak months are, both highs and lows, in addition to the average.
At the end of the day, these questions help you weed out the properties and houses you may not want to pursue due to more potential problems than you are willing or able to deal with. Aside from saving you time in the house hunt, these questions can also give you a good idea of how large of a rainy day fund you may need for your house after purchase. If there are any other questions or concerns about how to go about buying a house and what coverages you may need, contact your local Pablo Beach Insurance Agent!
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