Even the most prudent and practical person can get caught up in buying a home and allow emotions to blur reality and moot many factors that would normally impact their decision. You may feel that a house is everything you’ve ever wanted when it comes to price, style, and size, but there are many other factors you should consider before making an offer. A buyer should never allow themselves to want something so desperately that they make assumptions, forgo asking pertinent questions about the property, and/or ignore the big picture. Here are 10 things to consider before making an offer on a home.

1. Have you visited the home at various hours of the day? In daylight, rows of big, sunny windows may be an appealing asset, but the same windows may present privacy concerns or a security threat at night. A home near a school could be considered convenient for future children, but a visit during school hours could reveal excessive noise and traffic. A seemingly quiet, residential area could turn into a traffic nightmare from rush hour traffic taking a shortcut.

2. Have you looked at the immediate surroundings? Look at the houses within the view of the home. Are they condemned, vacant, debilitated, or otherwise tear-down material? Keep in mind that you don’t know what could be built in place of a tear-down, much less how it will affect the value or view from your potential home.

3. Have you explored the extended surroundings? Unless you’re moving to a familiar area, you might not know what’s one, two, or three blocks away. The immediate surroundings may be ideal, but that doesn’t mean a city dump, paper plant, airport, police station, public transportation system, or hospital isn’t just a few blocks away. The noises, odors, and traffic created by such entities could be a major consideration.


4. Have you talked to neighbors? You can learn a lot about the area by talking to people that already live there. For home valuation purposes, it can also be good to know if other residents are predominantly home owners or renters.

5. Have you researched the area beyond what you see? There may be important information that the real estate agents don’t know about and that you can’t get from a visual inspection, such as if the neighborhood has a problem with community water contamination, a proposed roadway expansion, or a proposed future business. Local county/city officials, newspaper archives, and online community sites are good research resources.

6. Have you obtained a home inspection and personally talked to the sellers? Considering a home will be one of the largest purchases you make, there’s no such thing as too much information. While almost any home will have a defect or two, never make an offer on a home without a home inspection contingency. Knowing what needs repairing and how much it will cost may affect your decision to purchase. You might decide to ask for a price reduction or credit for repairs. Be sure to ask if lead, radon, and termite inspections are included in the home inspection. Additionally, ask the owner about existing and repaired problems. This information can save you from running into future problems if you do buy the home. For example, the homeowner might have extensively built-up the landscaping in the backyard following a repaired basement flood. This is something useful to know so that you don’t move in and decide to level the backyard.

7. Have you asked for records on home maintenance and improvements? Not all homeowners will have kept such records, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Why? Let’s say you’re told the home was painted last year, but the receipt shows the cost of the work and materials was only $900. You might learn from this that the homeowner used cheap labor and materials, which may mean that you could be repainting sooner.

8. Do you know what the utilities average for the home? Although you might have emotionally fallen in love with a home’s architectural style, high ceilings, rows of windows, large indoor spaces, extensive landscaping, large yard, and so on, such features could negatively impact your electric and water bill.

9. Do you know the cost of property taxes? A good deal can quickly sour if property taxes show a history of rising each year. Look at newspaper archives, ask your agent, and/or ask the homeowner to determine how much the tax bills are on the home. Look at the last three to five years since houses in certain areas may be frequently reappraised. Areas where school systems are largely funded by property taxes may also see frequent property tax increases.

10. How much will the bells and whistles cost? Can you afford the upkeep and repairs for a pool or hot tub, for example?

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