The Hard Questions Every Real Estate Buyer Should Ask
Buying a house can be stressful. You need to do your research. This research can be done online through various real estate portals from which you'll get a good feel of the market.
But online research is a one-way street. You receive the information you searched but you can't actually interact and ask more questions. It's impersonal and by nature it has a major flaw - the human connection. You can't feel the answer and gauge if the information is accurate for you.
Put simply to gauge the accuracy of the information, you need to look somebody in the eye and ask your questions, and some will be hard, very hard.
You need the answers before you buy and for that you need a good real estate agent who is skilled and knows the market well. You're not only collecting information but your gauging the honesty of the agent, thereby building trust. With the agent in front of you, let’s take aim and fire the first question.
How long has the property been on the market?
Having done your online research, you have a fairly good idea of the state of the market. Slow, fast or just steady will indicate what is a fair time for a property to be listed and on the market.
If it's been on the market for six to eight weeks plus in a steady to good market, then you could reasonably assume the property has a price issue. It's too expensive and the sellers are still madly in love with it.
It might be best to move on. However, with the property being on the market for a long period, the seller maybe ready to listen to market offers?
Has the property received any offers?
This will tell you if other buyers consider this property to be desirable. It will also tell you how negotiable the seller is, even without knowing their bids.
You could ask the real estate agent selling the property the price you need to beat, but it'll be unlikely a good agent will offer that information.
Instead you could probe deeper and ask the ask for recent comparable sales. Good agents with the permission from their sellers, will show prospective buyers a CMA (comparable market analysis) report to arm them with knowledge when making their offer.
Why is the owner selling?
Here you are looking for specific answers. "They are moving interstate". "The kids have left home and they are downsizing"
What you don't want to hear is "They are looking for a change".
Probe deeper and ask the hard questions. "Are there any marital issues?". "Are the owners suffering financial hardship?".
Whatever is going on, you need a definitive answer as to why the owners are selling.
What's the street and neighbourhood like?
Is it peaceful? Is it a family street with young children or are the homes occupied by older, empty nesters?
How many rentals are in the street? Are they young, and do they have lots of parties?
If you are looking for quiet, peaceful living, you'll need the answers to these questions.
Any issues with the land?
Does it flood? Are there any easements over the property providing access for other parties?
Have any renovations been done on the property?
What you are trying to determine here is the craftsmanship of the work and whether or not it's been certified by the local authority. Sometimes extensions by DIY renovators don't have approvals and therefore the work might be unsafe. Sight approvals for all major work before you buy.
What's included in the sale?
Light fittings, dishwashers and laundry items are generally included. Make sure you have a list of exactly what's include.
As a safety net, photograph the items and get them signed off on.
It's been known that the television on the wall, the 65" Sony LED screen one, gets replaced before settlement with a 32" Aldi brand television. That's where photos come in handy and a descriptive list.
What are the council and waters rates?
Good agents know this and can easily provide this to you in any format. Most will have an information package or brochure at the open home with information on the rates and taxes included.
When buying a property, you need all the information in order to make an informed decision.
While online research is good, the best information comes from asking questions face to face with the seller's representative; the real estate agent.
Face to face questions allow you to feel the information and whether the other party is being truthful.
You can ask a lot of general questions but occasionally you'll need to dig deep. This may make you feel uncomfortable. Some of these questions might be very personal.
But you need to know the answers. You must have all the information before you give your offer on the property. If you buy right, your property will appreciate over time.
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