First-time home buyers and those who have purchased a home before but haven’t had to explore housing markets in a while should make a list of questions to ask the seller of a home placed on the real estate market.
Sometimes it’s not the answer to the questions as much as the way the seller answers those questions-your ability to ask important questions in those cases is important, but so is paying attention to how the questions get answered.
For example, the question, “Has the roof ever been replaced or repaired?” may get you a direct answer; “No, nothing has ever gone wrong with the roof”. But if the seller hesitates or offers a less-than-forthcoming answer, such as, “I don’t remember anything going wrong with the roof” or “No, the roof has never been…replaced” could be a warning sign for an FHA borrower to think about.
Another important question to ask; has the home even had to weather a natural disaster of any kind? If so, what was it, was the property damaged, and in what way?”
There are also subtle ways to ask questions that may reveal more to you as the borrower applying for an FHA home loan to purchase a piece of real estate as a major investment. Instead of asking, “Does this house you are selling have a foundation problem?”, consider asking the seller:
“What kinds of foundation problems are typical in this housing market?” Chances are good the seller doesn’t know anything about that, but if they are forthcoming about what they know, it may be easy to tell and the trust you get from the seller by being honest and direct can count for a lot.
Some sellers may not be knowledgeable about technical details such as foundation problems or the ability of the home’s heating and air conditioning units to properly serve a home of that size. But if you don’t get a good answer when asking if the basement gets damp during certain times of the year, you know you might need to keep looking.
First-time home buyers should ask their seller about the home’s history with respect to repairs, maintenance, termites, flooding during spring thaws where applicable, and (very importantly) why the owner is selling the home.
You may or may not learn what you need to know from asking these questions, but how the seller replies to them will tell you a great deal about what to do next in the house hunting process. Do you continue looking at that piece of real estate? Or do you move on? Asking questions is a great way to make that decision.