The most entertaining part of the buying process is obviously the part where you get to visit the homes that appeal to you. Being able to walk into a property, look through it, feel the space and understand the size/location is what makes the buying process efficient, fun and helps you make the biggest decision of your life. After almost 3,500 property visits over 9 years, i’ve learned where to focus my attention and how to guide my clients through the visit, but a lot of my clients haven’t yet realized that if the property owner is present, it is the perfect chance to ask a few more questions and get to know the property even better.
After falling in love with a home, it is definitely a good idea to get to know it a little better. Granted, we hope that you read the certificate of location and sellers declaration that we sent you prior to the visit, but asking these questions will allow you to get answers that give more insight on the day to day usage/feeling that the owners have. Also, side note, we do not suggest you ask all 7 questions in a row at the entrance You may come off as difficult. Try to time the questions while visiting the home.
Q1 – How are the neighbours
This question is almost always skipped, but getting to know the “neighbours” during your first visit might be a great start to knowing if it is a place you’d want to live. Obviously the seller may be smart enough to avoid confrontation questioning, but usually their facial expressions/body language can give away their relationship with said neighbours. Who knows, it might save you from buying next door to a party animal or a drug lord.
Q2 – Is there enough storage for you?
Maybe you checked this out through the pictures, or took the time to consider it before visiting… But how does the family that have lived here for X amount of years feel about storage? Are they running out? Do they wish they had more? Is it just right? As a buyer you are probably levelling up from a smaller home or condo, so it always seems like it is more than you have, but how does it face up to 2 kids, a dog and hockey equipment right?
Q3 – How much does heating/electricity usually cost?
One of the most overlooked questions/expenses in real estate. The seller is not bound to declare his monthly costs and obviously they are somewhat a reflection of the type of life said owner lives. If they have 3 kids and a dog vs. no kids/no dog for the buyer the costs associated will be way higher than what you will be paying. The question here is to be able to assess if the cost makes sense for their personal situation vs. the neighbouring homes. Sometimes high heating/electrical costs can be associated with premature heat loss/energy efficiency issues.
Q4 – How are the noise levels in the area? (Above, around and beneath)
Did you check google maps? Great! Let’s see if the owner is honest or has any issues with noise levels in the area. Sometimes you just don’t realize it but there may be a railroad 4 blocks away, or you might be in a low fly airport zone that makes things extremely noisy 3-4x a day. Asking does not hurt, purchasing without certain pieces of information might.
Q5 – If there was one thing you could change, what would it be?
The answer will probably be “not much, no we like everything about our home” since they are trying to sell you the home, but nothing is perfect right. Asking this type of question can be an insight to information you might not be noticing due to your love for the property if they answer honestly, but also a good read on the character of the sellers themselves. Usually people sell their homes because they need more space, storage or just want to change location, sometimes it is due to divorce or death, but there is always a reason why they are selling. What we want to find out is, if it is associated with the home, then what could it be and will it affect your decision?
Q6 – Where are you guys headed next?/Why are you selling?
The “touchy” question that no seller likes to answer. Truthfully asking “why are you selling” is intrusive and very beyond the barrier of buyer/seller etiquette. Personally I would much rather hear “where are you guys moving once you sell?” for multiple reasons. The first being, have they already found a home? If so, maybe they are a little more pressed to sell? Secondly, are they staying in the same area? – it could mean they really do love the neighbourhood. In general this question may lead you to information some other buyers may not have that will influence your offer.
Hopefully you haven’t thought of 1 or 2 of these questions and they can be game changing for you! If you are looking for help throughout the buying process, reach out and lets connect!