The last thing you want is to be greeted with an unpleasant surprise after you move in. You can avoid that situation by asking five simple but important questions:
What is the home’s structural condition like?
This one is critical. Find out about the condition of crucial elements like the roof, the insulation, and the foundation. How old is the roof? Have there been any structural problems? If so, when and how were they repaired? Delve as deep as you can into the history of the house, since overlooking something can cost you.
Reputable realtors always recommend an independent home inspection, for good reason. The up-front cost of an inspection is nothing compared to the money you could save on the purchase price, or by avoiding homes with major issues.
Has the home’s condition been factored into the price?
To that end, make sure structural issues are factored into the price if you’re still interested in buying a home in need of some repairs. Do some research into the sale prices—not the asking prices, but the final sale prices—of comparable properties in the area to establish your own baseline of the home’s actual value. A good realtor with neighbourhood-specific expertise will also know right away what a given home is actually worth.
If conditional issues haven’t been adequately factored into the asking price, negotiate the price down or be prepared to walk away.
How long has the house been on the market?
Market forces ebb and flow, but generally speaking, good homes in desirable neighbourhoods tend to sell fairly quickly. If a home has been on the market for an unusually long time, this could be a sign that there’s something wrong with it that’s spooking potential buyers. Find out why the house has been available for so long, keeping in mind that it could just be a case of the current owners insisting on an asking price that’s too high.
How long did the previous owners live in the house?
It’s another potential red flag if a succession of previous owners all moved out of the house within a short period of time. Conversely, it’s often a good sign if the current owners have been happily living in the house for years. Either way, it’s a wise idea to ask the present owners why they’re moving, without being pushy or prying.
How much are the monthly operational costs?
As every homeowner knows, mortgage payments and property taxes are only part of the story. You’ll also want an accurate, up-to-date estimate of heating, cooling, electricity, water, and maintenance costs to make sure the home still fits within your monthly budget.
While these five questions are very important, they are by no means the only ones you should ask. On your end, you should be sure you know how much you can afford to pay, and it’s always a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Working with an experienced and reputable realtor is strongly recommended, as qualified real estate professionals will help you address these and other important factors while safeguarding your interests throughout the buying process.
About Jethro Seymour
Jethro Seymour, one of the Top Davisville Village Real Estate Brokers at Royal LePage RES Ltd., Johnston & Daniel Division. Jethro Seymour is a midtown Toronto residential specialist with over 20 years of sales experience in real estate, marketing, construction and publishing. He has helped many families find homes in Toronto’s great neighbourhoods, and has extensive knowledge of local markets, new home construction, resale home sales, and the condo market. Living in midtown Toronto, Jethro previews many of the homes that come to market for his clients and inventory knowledge. Jethro specializes in Midtown, Davisville Village and Leaside neighbourhoods. For more information, call Jethro Seymour, Broker.