10 survey questions to ask a home seller


A house is usually the biggest investment you’ll ever make, and you’ll probably spend a lot of time and energy looking for the perfect spot. By the time you’re ready to buy, you’ll already know a lot about the house. However, it’s a good idea to do a little more detective work and get some investigative questions answered. This will give you extra peace of mind in your purchase.

A conversation with the seller, the seller’s agent, and a review of public records can fill in the detailed gaps that will help you make a better decision. Contacting the county real estate appraiser for the location of the house are great places to start. Here are the ten survey questions to ask a home seller.

Key points to remember

  • The questions to ask a home seller are: Why are they selling? And how long has the house been on the market?
  • What did they pay for the house? And what is included in the sale?
  • Nuisances or hazards (traffic jams, noise, crime, neighborhood problems, natural hazards or lead paint)?
  • What is the age and condition of the parts of the house (i.e. the roof)? And major repairs or renovations and if so, when and by whom?
  • What did they like about the house, the neighborhood and the community?

1. Why are you selling?

There are many reasons people move, including moving, wanting to move into a smaller or larger house, life events (marriage, birth of a child, death of a spouse or the like). ) and retirement. Even if you don’t always get a truthful answer, ask Why the seller is moving can be useful in determining the margin for negotiation.

Depending on the reason for the move, the seller may be willing to accept a lower offer if it means they can leave the house faster. Of course, if the seller is in no rush to sell, there may be little room for negotiation.

2. Duration of presence on the market

One of the main reasons a home stays on the market for a long time is that it was initially priced too high. This pricing error is often the result of a bad strategy.

The longer a home stays on the market, the harder it becomes to sell because the listing becomes ‘stale’ and buyers think there must be something wrong with the property (otherwise it would have already been sold, is not it ?). If the house has been on the market for a long time, the seller may be motivated and more willing to negotiate.

3. Previous sales prices

Knowing how much the seller paid is useful for several reasons. First, it tells you if the local market values ​​have risen or fallen since the seller bought the house. Second, it can help you determine how open the sellers are to negotiating, and here’s why: If the sellers bought the house at the lower end, they might be more willing to lower the price because they will always realize a reasonable profit. If your sellers bought the house for near or more than the asking price, however, they are unlikely to be willing to change the price much, if at all, on the price.

If the sellers won’t tell you what they paid for, you can find out by looking in the public records. They are available at the Deed Register (or a similar office, such as the Deed Recorder) in the county where the property is located.

4. What is included in the sale?

Anything that is permanently attached to the home (for example, faucets, cabinets, and blinds) is considered a light fixture and is typically included in a home sale. Sometimes legal definitions determine what is – and what is not – included in the sale, but sometimes an item can fall into a gray area.

If in doubt and to avoid disappointment, ask what is included in the sale and get it in writing. Pay special attention to items such as outdoor play equipment, sheds, lighting fixtures, appliances, window treatments, wall-mounted sound systems and anything else you would be upset to find missing if you moved in. in the House.

In many real estate markets, a light fixture is considered part of the house, and if the seller takes it, because it’s an expensive chandelier, for example, they have to replace it with at least one basic fixture.

5. Nuisance or problematic neighbors

Neighborhoods can be affected by a number of nuisances, including speed on community streets, traffic jams, noise (from traffic, neighbors, barking dogs and / or nearby businesses), crime, annoying odors (including cigarette smoke), litter, poor housekeeping, bright lights, and problematic neighbors causing disturbance. While you might not get a particularly detailed answer, it’s a good idea to at least try to educate yourself on the issues before making a purchase. In addition to asking the seller about the nuisance, you can go to the local police department to research crime statistics for the neighborhood.

6. Lead paint and natural hazards

Disclosure statements are used to inform buyers of the condition of a home and to protect sellers from future legal action if something goes wrong. Although disclosures vary by state and even county, sellers must disclose such things as existing liens, lead-based paint, natural hazards (e.g. floodplains), termite issues, online property dispute history and faults in major systems and / or appliances. In fact, there are eight disclosures that sellers must make; it makes sense to ask questions about each of them, just in case.

Because there may be issues with the home that the seller is aware of, but is not required by law to disclose, it may be helpful to ask point blank: is there a there any potential problems with this house? You may be notified of problems in advance and be able to negotiate repair costs. Of course, you should always get a full inspection before buying the home, as there may be issues that the seller is unfamiliar with or will not be happy to share.

7. Past problems

Although disclosure rules vary from state to state, home sellers are generally required to notify you of any current issues with the property, but they do not have to notify you of past issues that have been corrected. If it’s already fixed, why is it important to know? Because it might lead to another problem in the future.

A leaky roof could have been fixed, for example, but what was done about the water that got into the attic? Ask if the seller had to resolve any issues with the house and how well the solution worked. It’s also helpful to know who did the work in case a similar issue arises in the future.

8. Age of components

Learn about the age and condition of key items in the home so that you are prepared for any major expenses you may face. Start with the roof: newer ones can last 15 to 50 years, depending on the roofing material. An asphalt roof lasts around 15-20 years, so if it’s already 15 years old, you might consider a big expense pretty immediate. Also learn about heating and cooling systems, appliances, water heaters, septic tanks, plumbing and electrical systems.

9. Major repairs and renovations

Bad renovations, poor plumbing, and poor construction can end up costing you both financially and emotionally, and even in terms of your health. It is important to ask if any major repairs and renovations were done in the house and who did them: was it a licensed contractor or a DIY project?

See if the seller can produce a building permit for repairs and renovations that require one. These upgrades include any structural additions, installing a new roof, adding / relocating electrical outlets, adding / relocating plumbing fixtures, and installing / replacing an HVAC system ( Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning).

If the seller does not have building permits (the work may have been done by a previous owner), check with the local building department, usually through county or city authorities.

If a permit should have been issued, but was not, the building manager may have the power to force the current owner (which could be you, if you are buying the house) to obtain the permit and meet the requirements. of the current code. It could become a very expensive project.

10. What did you like the most?

This question may embarrass the seller or seem like a personal touch. But it can get the person talking about the home, the neighborhood, and the community. You could learn something positive that you might not have experienced otherwise: the tight-knit community, the short walk to the library, the way the sun shines through the living room windows in the afternoon. , low heating bills or the wild flowers that grow on the hill behind the house in summer.

The bottom line

Advertising and marketing materials include many details about a home (number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and square footage, for example) and the projection lets you see it firsthand. But talking to the salesperson can help you know exactly what you might be getting yourself into. If you’re having trouble getting in touch with the seller, try getting some of these questions answered through your real estate agent.


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