5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a House in Washington

Buying a house can be daunting, but with these questions, you will be one step closer to your new home. You want to be sure the home you’re buying is in good condition and won’t give you any surprises. Here are five critical questions to ask the seller or your real estate agent when considering a home. After all, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

1. Have there been renovations?

Knowing what renovations have been done to the house will help you understand what’s newer and older. It will give you an idea of what to expect and where repairs or replacements may be needed. Ask about any warranties. This could save you money down the road.

You will also want to make sure that everything was done to code. Ask to see the certificate of occupancy for the renovation or addition.

2. What condition are the major appliances in?

Consider all the appliances when buying a house. HVAC, water heater, faucets, and other major appliances may come with the home. What appliances are included in the sale? What state are these appliances in? How old are they and are there any warranties? If there are appliances you need to replace, remember to factor them into your budget.

3. How old is the roof?

Roofing can be very expensive to have replaced or repair. This is an important thing to consider when factoring it into your down payment and closing costs. You may be able to work with the seller to have the price reduced depending on the condition of the roof. If the repairs are significant, you may ask to have the roof repaired as a contingency to the sale.

4. What is the neighborhood like?

Get a sense of the community that you are considering moving to. Try engaging some of the neighbors to see how receptive they are. This may be a good chance to see how loud the neighborhood is or if there are a lot of children or pets in the area.

Ask if the community has a homeowners association or HOA. The HOA will give you a set of rules and expectations of their neighborhood. You will want to go through these thoroughly before moving. These may limit the changes or upgrades you can do to your home.

5. What is the monthly cost of utilities?

Calculating the monthly costs of your house is great to know ahead of time. Ask the seller what they normally spend on utilities each month. Take into account the seasons and the weather that comes with them. In hotter climate areas, ask for their utilities during the hottest summer months. If you’re looking in an area with strong winters, ask what to expect during December and January. You will also want to know if the home is being heated by gas, electricity, or solar power.

Who to ask:

The process of buying your home is not something you are doing on your own. Your real estate agent and the home inspector are there to help you and give you peace of mind.

Your real estate agent

The person guiding this entire process and helping you get the most out of the experience will be your real estate agent. They will be there to help you get the answers to all of your questions. They will also make sure to negotiate a fair price. The asking price may have costs added on that your real estate agent may be able to negotiate down.

The home inspector

You can get a home inspection before finalizing the purchase of a house. Whether you include it as a contingency in your contract or not, you can ask for an inspection. Ask the inspector about anything that you forgot beforehand. You can also ask for a more detailed answer to a question you had already asked the seller.

The home seller

Legally, the seller of the home must disclose information about the home. Though the laws vary by state and the amount of information may differ, all states require that the seller answer questions about the house truthfully. If a home seller withholds or falsifies any information about a home, there may be grounds for legal action.

Things to do if you do not like what you find:

Ask for a discount

If you’ve done your home inspection and have found a problem or one that may arise, you may be able to ask for a reduced price. Gather evidence for your argument and bring it to your real estate agent. From there, you may be able to work with the seller for a discount. If there’s a buyer’s market, the seller may be more willing to work with you to find an agreeable price. A seller’s market may not be as forgiving.

Ask for an additional home warranty

Paired with the title’s insurance, a home warranty will reinforce the seller’s warranty deed. Asking the seller to pay for a home warranty lets them not have to cover repairs and gives relief to the home buyer.

Decline the purchase

Home purchasing can be a difficult task. Even if you’ve fallen in love with a house, be careful it does not send you into debt. If monthly payments are too high, you may struggle to afford unexpected renovations or repairs that demand immediate attention. If the home seems like a cash drain, consider declining the purchase rather than putting yourself at risk.

It doesn’t hurt to ask

This list is a great start when doing your due diligence in home buying. Write these down and any other questions you may have and bring them with you when going to a viewing. Go through them with your real estate agent. Understand the answers and decide whether or not you are satisfied with them. If not, work with your real estate agent and home seller for a solution. This is a big purchase. You should feel confident and happy with your new home.

If you want to see our recently completed renovations, visit our listings page. We've gotten to breathe some life back into a few beautiful homes in Washington State and we are always looking to purchase homes and renew them for a new generation.

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