There is a lot to figure out when you move into a new house. You will notice new sounds, smells, and other things that you didn’t notice when you were walking through the house prior to closing. Every house is different, so even if you owned a home before there will be some things that will catch you off guard about your new home. The best way to avoid these surprises is to ask the seller a few questions before you close on the house.
Some of the information you can gather by looking over the seller’s disclosure. But if there are questions you have that aren’t answered on the disclosure, you can ask the seller.
Some sellers will be leery about sharing information with you because they will be worried that it might scare you and cause you to back out of the deal, but you will never know unless you ask.
If you think it will make the seller more comfortable, wait to ask the questions until your final walk through or you are at the closing table.
Are there any oddities that I should know about the house?
A home inspector will find any areas of the house that are dangerous or could be potential problems for you, but it’s not their job to find the little quirks. It could be a window that sticks or a certain noise that you can hear only in the middle of the night.
You should be subtle when asking the seller this question. Try something along the lines of, “Are there any things that I should anticipate moving forward and into the house?”
What past problems have you had to fix in the house?
Sellers are required to disclose information about known problems that the house has. However, the requirements vary from location to location.
Once you have read over the seller’s disclosure statement, don’t be afraid to ask for more information. Not all sellers will disclose on the form past problems they have already fixed or repaired.
Try asking them if there were any problems that were fixed in the past that you should know about for when you are living in the house.
- Where are the utilities located?
You should be present when the home inspector walks through the house. The inspector will show you where the water shut-off valve is and other things, like the circuit box and sump pump.
However, if the inspector doesn’t show you, you will want to ask the seller. In the case of an emergency, you want to know where these are located to act quickly. The seller should have no problem cluing you in on this information.
What’s the neighborhood like?
The best way to bring this question up with the seller is just through conversation. You want to find out if there is anything you should know about the neighbors, where the best grocery store is, or what restaurants to avoid.
Do you want to leave anything in the house?
If there are things that you saw in the house when you walked through that you wouldn’t mind keeping in the house, ask the seller. They may be willing to part with things in with the house, and they might even be relieved to not have to take it with them.
The seller will know more about the house than anyone. If there are questions that you are wondering about the house, you should ask before you walk away at closing. You never know what kind of helpful information you can find out.