As an appraiser, these are the three main questions I ask sellers when purchasing a home.
- What is the history of the property?
- What is the condition of the property?
- Why are you selling the property?
Before buying a house, it’s important to know the history of the property to avoid any surprises or potential issues that could affect the value of the property or your ability to live in it comfortably.
Asking the seller about the history of the house is important when buying a property because it helps you to make an informed decision about the property’s value, potential issues, and overall condition. Here are some reasons why you should ask the seller about the history of the house before buying:
Age of the house:
Knowing the age of the house is important, as older homes may have different structural issues or building materials that could affect the property’s value. It will also indicate the age of its systems, such as the roof, HVAC, and plumbing, which can help you understand the potential for future repairs or replacements. Asking the seller has the advantage of them giving more details than just a number. If it’s an older home, they may point out an issue than they addressed or make another helpful comment that helps you determine the true condition of the home.
Identify any issues:
Knowing the history of the house can help you identify any potential issues, such as previous damage or maintenance concerns. Ask about any major repairs that have been done, such as roof or foundation repairs, as these can be costly and could indicate ongoing maintenance issues. Ask about any insurance claims or damages to the property, such as flood or fire damage, as this can impact the property’s insurability and future resale value. This information can be important in determining the value of the property and any potential costs that you may have to incur.
Assess renovations and updates:
If the house has undergone any major renovations, asking about the history of these changes can help you understand the quality of the work that was done, whether the proper permits were obtained, and if the renovations were done in compliance with building codes. There’s a chance they will be able to provide you paperwork, dates, and other detailed information.
Details on renovations and updates can give you a better understanding of the condition and quality of the home. Knowing what renovations and updates have been made can help you assess whether the home is in good condition, has been well-maintained, and is up to code. For example, if the seller has recently replaced the roof, it can indicate that the home is in good structural condition and can save you the expense of having to replace the roof soon after purchase.
Secondly, asking about renovations and updates can help you identify potential issues or concerns. For example, if the seller recently installed a new HVAC system, you can ask for documentation to ensure that the installation was done correctly, and that the system is operating efficiently. On the other hand, if the seller did not disclose any renovations, you may need to conduct a more thorough inspection to identify any potential issues before committing to the purchase.
Lastly, it can help you plan for future maintenance and repairs. Knowing when updates were made and what was done can give you an idea of when you may need to replace or repair various components of the home. This can help you plan and budget for future expenses and avoid any unexpected surprises down the line.
It’s possible some work was done on the house before they moved in. Simply ask about previous owners of the house and what improvements or changes to the property were done by the previous owners that could affect its current condition. The owners before were likely to boast about any updates they did.
Gauge the seller’s honesty:
Asking the seller about the history of the house can help you gauge their honesty and transparency. If the seller is reluctant to provide information or gives evasive answers, it could be a red flag that there are hidden issues with the property.
In summary, asking the seller about the history of the house is an important step in the buying process as it can help you make a more informed decision about the property’s value, potential issues, and overall condition.
Before buying a house, it’s important to ask the seller about the maintenance of the house to ensure that the property is in good condition and to avoid any potential future expenses.
Identify potential issues:
Maintenance issues can indicate potential problems with the house, such as leaks, foundation problems, or plumbing issues. By asking the seller about the maintenance history of the house, you can identify any potential issues that may need to be addressed.
Asking the seller about the condition of the house can help you identify any potential issues or repairs that may need to be addressed before purchasing the property. This can help you avoid any surprise expenses or issues after closing.
Understand the age of the systems:
Knowing the maintenance history of the major systems in the house, such as the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems, can help you understand their age and whether they are in good condition. This information can be important in determining potential future expenses and the overall value of the property.
Ensure proper upkeep:
A well-maintained house is likely to have a higher resale value than one that has been neglected. By asking the seller about maintenance on the house, you can ensure that the property has been properly maintained and is in good condition. The condition of the house can impact the value of the property, and understanding the condition can help you make an informed decision about the property’s value.
If the house has not been well-maintained or there are other issues with the condition of the home, you can use this information to negotiate a lower price with the seller to account for potential future expenses.
Plan for future maintenance:
By asking the seller about the maintenance history of the house, you can plan for future maintenance expenses, such as roof repairs or replacement. This can help you prepare for these expenses, budget, and avoid any surprise costs.
Knowing why the seller is selling their house can provide advantages for the buyer in the home buying process.
Here are a few advantages of knowing the reason why the seller is selling their house:
If the seller is motivated to sell quickly, such as due to a job transfer or financial hardship, the buyer may be able to negotiate a lower price for the property. When completing a report, appraisers research the history of an MLS listing and speak with real estate agents. Multiple, large price drops are often made by sellers against the advice of real estate agents due to personal reasons. Their need to get out of the house quickly can lead to the house selling for below market value. If you find a motivated seller, you can get the price drop through the sales price or concessions before the other buyers notice, through a lowered price.
Understanding the market:
Knowing why the seller is selling their house can provide insight into the local housing market. If multiple houses in the area are being sold for similar reasons, such as a shift in demographics or job changes, this could impact the buyer’s decision-making process. The seller may mention a change in the area that you weren’t aware of and may affect your willingness to move to the area.
Identifying potential issues:
If the seller is selling the house due to issues with the property, such as difficult neighbors, safety concerns, or a problematic location, this could provide the buyer with valuable information to make an informed decision about the purchase. They may not flat out say the reason but their vague response may give you enough information when combined with other clues. There may even be small comments that hint at one of these problems that allow you determine if those are major issues for you.
Understanding the condition of the house:
If the seller is selling the house due to an issue with the property, such as a structural issue or required repair, the buyer can use this information to plan for future expenses and to negotiate the price accordingly. This is where appraisers observe concessions are made. Sellers may not want to deal with spending the money out of pocket to fix or repair items. They compromise with a larger concession or reduction in sales price.
Understanding the reason why the seller is selling their house can help build rapport between the buyer and the seller. This can be valuable during negotiations and in reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.
Most counties allow you to perform an online search for county property information. As an appraiser considering buying a home, the biggest things I would note from a county website would be:
- Year built
- Square footage
- Land Size
- Property taxes
- Purchase history, including sales prices
- Any liens, property line adjustments, etc.
It is important to verify MLS (Multiple Listing Service) information against county data for properties because MLS data may not always be accurate or up-to-date. County data, on the other hand, is typically considered to be more reliable and can provide additional information that may not be available through the MLS.
MLS information is entered by real estate agents and brokers, who may make mistakes or fail to update the information as necessary. This can result in discrepancies between the MLS listing and the actual property details, such as the square footage, number of bedrooms, or property taxes.
By verifying MLS information against county data, you can ensure that the information you are relying on to make important real estate decisions is accurate and reliable. County records can provide a more comprehensive and detailed view of the property, including tax records, permit history, and zoning information. This can help you make a more informed decision about the property and avoid potential legal or financial issues that could arise from relying solely on MLS data.
In short, verifying MLS information against county data is an important step in the due diligence process when purchasing or selling a property, and can help ensure that all parties involved have the most accurate and up-to-date information available.