Way to go!! You on the path to purchasing a home!! We are so glad you have chosen to work with The C4 Elite Real Estate team as a buyer. Our full time, professional agents are helping you navigate the process. The pre-approved letter is written and your buyer’s agent has started showing you homes. Are you wondering, What am I missing? What questions Don’t I Know to Ask When Buying a Home? This blog will help you ask those questions to your awesome C4 Elite agent, who in turn, will help you get the answers.
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How Much Do Utilities Cost?
The first question that you may not think to ask is “How much are the utilities for the home”? In Utah, we have four seasons. You will have a heating bill in the winter and an cooling bill in the summer. Your agent can request a copy of the utility bills or as a minimum the average cost for utilities from the sellers. Seeing this will help you determine what/if any insulation or drafts you might need to explore in the home.
The newest trend we see coming into Utah is solar panels. Homes with solar panels are reporting heating and cooling monthly bills, for large homes, as low as $9 to $10 a month. If you find a home with solar panels, the very first question you want to ask is, do the sellers own them? Are they included with the sale of the home? Often times they are leased. If this is the case, what is the outstanding balance? In some instances, your agent can negotiate the balance owed with the sellers. Finally, how do they affect the electric bill? Solar panels on a home can be quite a challenge if the sellers do not outright own the solar panels, so be sure to ask these question ahead of time.
What is Radon?
The second question you may not know to ask is whether or not the house has radon. According to the EPA, “Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation”.
The only way to find out if the home you are purchasing has radon is for your home inspector to perform a radon test. This is a test that requires special equipment. The Home Inspector places the system in the lowest level living space, uninterrupted, for 48 hours. The machine takes readings every hour of any radon gas. After 48 hours the averages of all the readings are accumulated and gives a final level of radon in the home. The EPA states that any levels over 4 pCi/L require a mitigation system. The cost of a mitigation system varies but I have seen them cost from $1500-$2000. Plan ahead and get the test done by your home inspector during your due diligence time period. In the event the home has radon levels above 4.0 you will want your buyer’s agent to negotiate with the sellers for the mitigation system.
A question I get asked all the time is, how do schools rank nearby? A good resource to find out this information is https://www.greatschools.org/. This site allows you to see how many free lunches the school provides, student to teacher ratios, tests scores, and of course other parent reviews. You will be able to see an initial snapshot of the schools that your home is zoned for and see if it is a good fit for your child. The absolute best way, of course is to talk to neighbors or go to the school itself, take a tour and visit to see how you feel about it.
What is my Commute?
Additionally, you want to make sure that the home you are choosing has a commute to and from work for you that is doable. Furthermore, you will want to see how far the schools are, shopping, and access to local highways. I always recommend that my buyers drive past a house that they want to purchase on Sundays afternoons. Cruise the neighborhood after school hours, during rush hour and during a snow storm. Make the drive to work and see what the commute is like. Clients from cities bigger than Salt Lake City often laugh at what we call rush hour. However, it can be challenging most days, especially if you are commuting a longer distance than you are accustomed to.
How Old are the Appliances?
Finally, a good question to ask when you are purchasing a home is how old are the appliances? You can almost eye the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and guess their age. However, your home inspector can determine the actual age and functionality. In addition to the kitchen appliances, and perhaps more importantly, you want to have the furnace, air conditioner and water heater checked. The home inspector is not a professional contractor for any of these appliances, but they can tell you the age and whether they are working properly at the time of inspection.
There is a “shelf life” for these appliances and if they are nearing the end, your buyer’s agent can negotiate with the seller’s agent for repairs if necessary. If these appliances are in good working order but older in age, make sure to negotiate a home warranty. In most cases, the home warranty will cover some if not all of any repairs or replacement. The home warranties are typically in place for the first year you own the home. Buying a home can be expensive so protect yourself with a home warranty.
There are many questions you may not know to ask when buying a home. However, do not ever be afraid to ask questions. As the old saying goes, no question is a bad question. We, at The C4 Elite Real Estate Team, are happy to answer any and all questions about the home buying process. Give us a call and we can help you find your dream home today.