Half the fun of looking for a home is visualizing the pleasure you will have when the seller is gone and the place is yours, all of you. But wait a second, partner – once the seller is gone, so is a rich repository of information about your new home. Most sellers know things about their / your home and the neighborhood, which could make your life easier for years to come.
To help you tap into this treasure trove of information, here are 5 questions to ask the seller of your home, before it’s too late! (Note – it is not the protocol, in most cases, to just knock on the seller’s door or ring the bell and start shooting. If you encounter them during escrow or inspections, please feel free to If not, it’s best to run your questions through your agent, who will either collect answers for you or let you know if the salespeople – and their agent – are up for a more informal conversation.)
1. What is the history of the house? Many state disclosure forms and laws require sellers to disclose a number of things about the history of the property, from how it has been maintained, to systems that have broken down, to the death of a property. one person on the property. However, you might want to take it a step further, for example finding out if the property was a rental, if they recommend a fixed maintenance schedule (take the gardener’s number, if you like the lawn!) For anyone. what part of the property, or if they are aware of any interesting stories about the former inhabitants or uses of the property that might provide useful or just plain old interesting information.
It also gives you the ability to do key things:
a) find out if there is something that works, but is a bit wobbly and needs an extra push or a hard turn to open / close / activate – I have experienced many buyers who called a contractor after closing to fix something, only to find that it was actually working and just needed a little push or a little extra love (for example, the “broken” garage door opener that the seller unplugged when he moved), and
b) inquire about any upgrades or improvements the seller has made to the property and ask for everything from paint color names to warranties, receipts and instruction manuals for devices that sometimes get packed, moved and thrown away inadvertently.
2. Where to go and who to know? Home sellers can be the best source of information that doesn’t seem like very important, but can actually take a long time to figure out for yourself, like which of the 6 dry cleaners on Main Street makes the best changes, or which neighbor is running Neighborhood Watch or pug playgroups.
If your home is owned by a Homeowners Association, or HOA, you’ve of course received several hundred pages of HOA disclosures, but the seller might just point you to the community DVD library or board meeting room. , or show you where you can find the carts that you can use to bring bulky items into the elevator from the parking lot. I’ve even seen vendors above and beyond leaving filing cabinets full of menus from their favorite neighborhood delivery points.
3. What surprised them when they moved in? Pleasantly or not, moving in is always the occasion of a surprise (even a dozen!). They might have been surprised at the friendliness of the neighbors, how bright a room is at a given time, how many people can sit around the table in the Thanksgiving dining room, or how loud and quiet from the school across the street. is. If they were surprised, you could be too – so it’s good to know what shocked them before you move in.
4. Where is it and how does it work? Where do you take the trash and what day of the week? Where are the emergency stops for water and electricity, the breaker box and the utility meters? Where is the thermostat or the special key that lights the gas fireplace? How it works? Some of these things are things a good home inspector will cover, but if yours hasn’t, or you haven’t been able to do the inspection, some nice home sellers will come forward. pleasure to inform you of these elements.
Then there are things like appliances, landscape lighting, sprinkler operating systems, septic tanks, basement pumps, filters and pool covers and spas, which inspectors in general building might not even look. Most door-to-door salespeople will know how to make these things work – and will happily share that information with you. (For the most part, if you want these types of specialized systems to be reviewed and evaluated before removing contingencies from your contract, you need to hire the type of contractor who works on those specific items to review them.)
5. Is there anything you would like to leave? There are really two flavors of this question. First, you might have an eye for an item of the seller’s personal property, such as a perfectly sized print or a perfectly shaped breakfast cubicle, that you would like to buy from them – if so, make an offer. !
And secondly, the salesperson might be halfway through his move when he realizes he doesn’t want to fix the wall behind the flat screen or try to tilt that insanely long sofa toward the window he has. had to bring it in, so they’d rather just leave it. I have seen sellers offering very beautiful furniture and electronics to buyers, for free or at a price, when given the opportunity, through this one question.
6. What did I forget to ask? Whether you are a new owner or new to the area, this is where you throw yourself at the mercy of the seller and ask them to tell you everything you forgot to ask. Exchanging phone numbers or email addresses isn’t a stretch – now every transaction isn’t so friendly or cordial, but many are or could be. It is certainly in your best interest to leave the transaction on good terms with the seller, if possible, for karmic and utilitarian reasons.
Asking this question can give you all kinds of useful information, such as:
- the fact that each year you benefit from 2 free collections of bulky waste,
- notice of the block party that will take place the weekend after you move in, and
- a warning that if you let your weeds grow too tall in the spring, the fire department will issue you a ticket.
Ok – it’s just things I personally learned from asking this catch-all question to salespeople, but I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Despite the fact that real estate transactions can be confrontational at times, the fact remains that the average home seller wants to be helpful and wants the buyer of their home to be happy. When these two desires collide, if you ask the right questions (okay, so there are more than 6 – but you get the gist of it!), You can save yourself countless research, time and energy!PS – You should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook!
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