Questions to Ask the Seller

examples of contrasting floor colors and textures

I suggest you develop a checklist with important questions to ask the seller or the seller’s real estate agent. This list will help you make a wise investment and avoid unnecessary expenses in the future. You will want your realtor or sighted friend to point out some of these questions at each house you consider. For example, are there signs of a leaky roof? Are the floors marred or the carpet worn? What colors are the walls? What kind of window treatments are there? Do the windows open and close easily, and are they easy to clean? Do they lock safely? Are they energy efficient? If the walls are covered with wallpaper, and you hate wallpaper? Removing it and painting can get costly. Window treatments and flooring are also significant expenses.

Checklist

  • When was the house built?
  • How many owners have there been?
  • How much are the annual property taxes and home insurance?
  • How much do the electric or gas bills usually run?
  • How old is the roof? The windows? The flooring? The heating and air conditioning system?
  • What appliances stay with the house?
  • Are there any signs that the roof or skylight has ever leaked?
  • Does the house look like it has been well taken care of? Is it clean?
  • Are there signs that the property floods or has standing water when it rains?
  • Are there signs of a shifting foundation?
  • Ask to see the documentation for pest control, especially termite treatments, or get the name of the service company used by the current homeowner.
  • Ask to see heating and air conditioning maintenance receipts or get the service company’s name.
  • Ask to see the property appraisal. An appraisal will show if the house is overpriced. It will give comparative prices of homes recently sold in the area. It will also answer some of the questions listed above.
  • Ask to see the documentation for a clear title.

No Surprises

Every seller may not have the answers to all of these questions, but the more information you gather, the fewer the surprises later on. As a person with no vision, I cannot detect signs that the roof is leaking or that the yard has standing water when it rains. I can’t see if termites are invading a bathroom through an unprotected foundation. And I don’t want these worries after I buy the house. If you like a house, but the appliances, heating, and air conditioning system are several years old, ask the seller to update them.

Lesson Learned

Twenty years ago, I learned this lesson. All the systems in the house I was buying passed inspection, but the heating and air conditioning system went out three weeks after I moved in. I later learned that the system had been serviced several times a few months before I purchased the house. Had I asked to see records or purchased new homeowners insurance for a year, I might have saved myself $2,500!

Next: The Purchasing Process

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