The Real Estate Encyclopedia
What Questions Should I Ask The Seller Before Making The Offer?
Category - Home Buying Questions - Search & Offer FAQ's

Following are some good questions to ask the seller or have your agent submit to the seller:


       Why are you selling? The response to this question will help you identify potential problems but also the sellers motivation.  For example, if a seller is being relocated the relocation has made an offer to buy that home.  This means, the seller has an opportunity to get more money than that offered by the company, if he/she finds a buyer on their own.  On the other hand, the seller may not be quite as motivated because he/she is assured the property will sell.  "If you hear something like, 'Well, we'd like to move out into the country,' you don't have a motivated seller and quite often you're just not going to get a decent deal on a house that way," says Tom Wemett, president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents and a buyer's broker in Rochester, N.Y. "But if you find out that they've already bought another house and are about to carry two mortgages, there's motivation. If the sellers are going through a divorce or have lost their job, they will be highly motivated.


       What can you tell me about the neighbors or the neighborhood?  By keeping it open-ended, you may stumble upon references to the garage band next door, the dog kennel over the fence, the upcoming picnic to raise money for the neighborhood class-action suit.  You should confirm any information by driving through the neighborhood and meeting some of the neighbors.  This is very easy to accomplish during the spring and summer when homeowners are typically working in their yard.  You may find information relevant to your family, like whether there are families with children your kids age nearby.


       How old is the roof?  The seller may have to disclose that on the property-condition form, but if the roof predates the current homeowner, he can truthfully say he doesn't know. Consider this follow-up: Who was the previous owner and how can I contact him? It's cheaper to do a little digging now when you can still haggle over a full or partial roofing credit than to foot the whole bill yourself later. If the seller is not able to provide that information, you can check the tax records. 


       When was the last time the furnace was cleaned?  Furnaces should be cleaned every year. If it has been and there is a nice service record on the side of the furnace, chances are the rest of the house has been cared for too. If that furnace hasn't been cleaned in three or four years, the rest of the house is probably the same.


       Is this house haunted? Some home buyers will not consider houses that have been the scene of murders or suicides. Some states require sellers to disclose the presence of ghosts, poltergeists or paranormal activity on a property.


       Has this home ever been rented? Any landlord will confirm that rentals take far more abuse than residences. If the property was used as a rental at some time, it could speak to the general condition of the place. An inspection should uncover any related problems.


       What are the local schools like?  School information is critical even if you have no children and dont plan to have children because you will want to sell the property at some point in the future and, by far, the vast majority of buyers will care about the quality of schools in the area.


You may have further questions to ask the seller.  It is a good idea to write down any questions both before starting your search and after you find the right home.  Most buyers will visit their top selections several times before making an offer.  Be sure to note your questions and have your agent submit them to the seller.  You can even include some of the questions as a contingency under special stipulations in the purchase contract. 

Home Buying Questions - Search & Offer FAQ's
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