Don't get stuck with a fixer-upper money pit! Know what you are getting into. Check out these questions to ask before buying an older home.
There is so much excitement when purchasing a home. When you find a place that is right for you and your family going through the purchasing process can still be overwhelming. You need to protect yourself and your investment by asking the right questions. If there are things that are going to need to be repaired, they can affect the offer you put on the home. Even though home inspections are done, things can still be missed if you aren't careful. Asking questions is always important but even more so when you are buying an older home.
Questions To Ask Before Buying an Older Home
How old is the roof?
Seems like a practical question that should be disclosed, but sometimes it is not. Depending on the type of roof they last on average 20 years. Knowing when it was last replaced and by whom could save you a considerable expense later on.
When was the Air Conditioner last replaced/serviced?
In this modern age, air conditioning is a must. While an air conditioning unit may be functioning at the time of inspection, there is no guarantee that it will last. Find out how old the AC unit is and when the last time it was professionally serviced. AC repair is expensive, and this could save you a ton, or you could bargain with the purchase price.
What type of pipes are in the house?
When buying an older home asking about the pipes is important! The pipes could be made of different materials. Some older homes have galvanized pipes, while some have copper, and newer piping is made of CPVC. If the pipes are galvanized or copper there is a higher chance of corrosion and problems sooner than later. Paying a plumber to inspect the pipes could guide you on the right path to making sure you don't have a problem later on. Re-plumbing a house is a significant job, and can cost you thousands.
Has regular pest control been done, if so when?
Nobody wants to purchase a home with bugs. Find out if regular pest control has been done on the house. Doing so will give you an idea if you should be keeping an eye out for termites, ants, and more. Find out when and who did the pest control so you can continue treating your home, so it stays pest free.
Ask for copies of paperwork
If the previous homeowner is interested in selling, they should be able to provide you with the paperwork for the primary services, appliances, and maintenance. If not, you may question if the work was done. It is important once you take possession to be able to pick up maintenance where it left off.
Have you done any remodeling?
The previous remodeling is not something you typically think to ask when you find a home you love, but what if the current owner did un-permitted remodeling? It is quite common for homeowners to do their remodeling and unfortunately if they didn't know what they were doing it can cause you problems later on. What if they removed a load bearing wall? What if they did their electrical work? These are things that a home inspection won't catch, but you will want to be aware of before making an offer.
Can I have a copy of that quote?
A lot of home sellers will come down on the price of their home if it needs a little work. They will tell you things like, "We got a quote to have the roof replaced for $10,000, so we will lower the price that much." Makes sense at first, but what happens when you move in and find out it costs $20,000 to replace the roof? YEP! It happens every day! Just ask them for a copy of the quote. You want EVERYTHING in writing before you sign on the dotted line.
Get everything in writing
No matter where you are in the home buying process once negotiations start taking place you want to get everything in writing. Getting it in writing ensures that you are covered and that what the seller is telling you is accurate. Think of it as your insurance policy as you go forward through the purchasing process.
Be OK to walk away
Walking away is not a question obviously, but you need to be ok to walk away. Sometimes the house seems right, but it has more problems than it is worth. Do your homework, get everything in writing, be your own best advocate, and know when to walk away. There will always be more houses.
I hope these questions give you a great start toward your home purchase! Don't be scared when buying an older home. They are great and full of character. Just go into your decision with all of the information possible!
I am Amanda. Mom to 3 wonderful kids & lots of furbabies. Plus wife to my hubby, David, for 20 years (gosh that makes me sound old). In our house we love to get outside, have family fun, and enjoy all Florida has to offer (Hey, Universal!) We do all of that with a few shortcuts.