Avoid a “Money Pit” – Ask These Questions

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Published: April 28, 2017 Last Updated: April 24, 2019

Questions that you ask the seller, the agent and the home inspector may determine if you’re buying a “Money Pit”, a home with structural defects or your dream home.

Ask the home inspector

A buyer’s first overall view about the condition of a home usually comes from the home inspector. Therefore, it is critical to have the best home inspector that you can get and know what questions to ask him. Read “HOW TO PICK THE BEST HOME INSPECTOR”

Home inspection reports are usually very long and have many findings on what the inspector discovered. You need to go over the report thoroughly and ask the inspector about anything you don’t understand. A good question to ask the inspector, if you’re trying to determine how important a finding or issues is: ask, Is it common for you to see this condition or issue in other homes; would you not buy this home because of this issue; would you be afraid to live in this home? Read “WHAT YOUR INSPECTOR MAY NOT TELL YOU”

Ask the seller

Sellers know a tremendous amount of information about their home. They know what is broken and what doesn’t work. They know if they have had to make any major or structural repairs. Most states have disclosure requirements on what a seller needs to disclose to a buyer about their home. Failure to honestly meet these disclosure requirements can lead to a lawsuit against them.

When you receive the disclosure statement or information, be sure to read it thoroughly. Anything that is not clear, ask the seller to further explain. Ask if they have had to fix or repair anything and if so, by whom, when, and is it functionally OK or structurally sound.

Ask if there has been any work, repair, remodeling or additions done to the home and was there a permit pulled. Ask if there have been any fires or insurance claims; if yes, why, what and when.

Ask the agent

An agent can be an invaluable source of information. They usually are professional, licensed and knowledgeable about real estate transactions. They are not home inspectors, contractors or lawyers but usually have the knowledge to some extent in these fields.

Ask your agent for additional information about the home’s condition, especially ones that you are concerned about. If they don’t have the answer, most will get it for you. When a specific condition or issue is disclosed or discovered you may want to ask your agent if any of the homes in the area have this issue. Ask who you could consult with, a professional, that could shed light on the issue. Ask if they recommend that you have an additional inspection, i.e. if the issue is that the pool has a crack in it, who would be a couple of pool inspectors that they might recommend.

States may have disclosure requirements about the condition of a home that they must fill out. If so, when you get the agents’ disclosures, ask them to explain or clarify any issue that you’re concerned about. Ask your agent if there have been any past inspections done on the house, even if it was 3 years ago. See if you can get a copy of it.

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