When you are buying a home, often you become blinded by the idea of the home. It is easy to see your future there and not see the actual home. You may focus on the cheery holidays spent around the fireplace and fail to see the cracks in the ceiling.
To protect yourself and your investment money, you will want to have any property thoroughly inspected by a professional before you consider buying it. In a buyer’s market — which we are starting to see in many areas of the country — this is fairly common.
You can also gather information before you have the home inspected. Not everyone is going to be outright with things. With the last home we sold, I told the potential buyer everything when I realized he was serious. I didn’t leave out a thing — even pointed out the small hole in a bedroom screen. I felt that it was only right to be completely honest.
Hopefully, your seller will feel the same way. The last home we bought wasn’t that way. They acted like “you buy it, you find it out.”
Either way, it never hurts to have an informal chat with the current owners about the property. Chances are that they know that the property inspector will find things out, so they’ll just come right out and tell you.
But what should you ask the current owners. Here are some general questions to use as a starting point:
- Does the home have any loose floor boards, cracks in the foundations, walls or basement?
- Have you ever had moisture problems in the basement?
- Has the roof ever leaked? Have you ever replaced the roof? How long ago?
- Have the pipes ever frozen and busted?
- Have you ever had a pest problem?
- Was the home built before 1978? Before 1960? If so, has there been a lead paint test?
- Has the home been tested for radon?
- Are the air conditioning and heating working? When were they replaced? When were they last serviced?
- Have you done any improvements to the home since you have owned it? Did you make the improvements yourself? If a professional did the job, who did it? Were you happy with the contractor? Would you recommend the company for future work?
And remember, these are just starting points. Ask as many questions as you want — after all, you are buying a home. It’s a lot of money. If the seller really wants to sell, they’ll answer them all.
Russell J. Montjoy
Exit Deluxe reality
4600 N Park Ave.
Chevy Chase, Md. 20815