Questions to ask at an Open House or Showing

By Maddie Ogden

Open houses and house showings can be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. It is the first opportunity for you to see your potential new home. While these events are exciting, it is also the perfect time for you to ask important questions about the house.

You may be wondering, what sort of questions should I be asking? That is exactly what we are here for! Here are some questions you should ask both before and during an open house.

Questions to ask before the Open House or Showing

  1. How long has the house been on the market?
  2. Have there been any price reductions?
  3. Is it vacant? If so, how long has it been vacant?

Go over the following questions with your chosen real estate agent since they can be indicators of how desirable the property is.

  1. Why are the owners selling?
  2. Have there been any offers?
  3. When does the seller want to move?

Questions about the sellers expectations are also important to go over with your chosen real estate agent before an open house or showing. The answers to these questions hint at what the negotiation process will be like and how quickly the seller wants to close.

Questions to Ask During the Open House or Showing

  1. What are the house’s biggest problems?
  2. Has the house been tested for mold, radon, lead, and/or asbestos?
  3. When was the last time the roof was replaced?
  4. Is the house in a flood zone?
  5. How much do the utilities cost?

If you are seriously interested in purchasing the property, here is additional information about the community you may want to know. The answers to these questions will help finalize your decision to make an offer.

  1. What is the neighborhood like?
  2. What’s within walking and driving distance?
  3. Is there a Homeowner’s Association?
  4. What is the crime rate in the neighborhood?
  5. Where can I get information on the local schools?

Knowing information about the neighborhood is just as important as knowing information about the house.  If you don’t like the neighborhood the house is in, then chances are you will not be satisfied with the house.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making Your Offer

  1. Will my furniture fit here?
  2. What’s the cell signal like?
  3. What updates would I make, if any?
  4. Can I picture this house becoming my home?

Open houses and showings are an excellent way to gather information about a particular home that has caught your interest. Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide whether a house is right for you, or not.  We are here to help you find a home that is a perfect match for you!

Advice for First Time Home Buyers

Advice for First Time Home Buyers - couple reviewing finances

Buying a house for the first time can churn up all kinds of emotions. From exhilarating to nerve-racking, it’s an experience that you will need to be prepared for. We’ve put together some advice for first time home buyers to make your purchase run as smoothly as possible.

An important step is to go see a lender. It’s easy to miss this step when you’re wrapped up in the excitement and anticipation of your first home, but meeting with a lender, or multiple lenders, to find the best financing option for you is vital to the process.  (If you don’t know where to start, we have a list of reliable lender contacts)

Having a lender allows first-time homebuyers to have good negotiating power right from the start. Your lender can go over your credit history and provide you with helpful advice on how to handle any issues that may hold you back from purchasing. If your credit is good, lenders will pre-approve you for a home you can afford. This gives you the advantage of knowing just what your price range truly is and will help manage your expectations. A lender can tell you exactly how much you’ll have to put up for down payments and closing costs which allows you to present the best possible firm offer for a home you like.  This is very attractive to sellers, especially in our current market.

Once you’re pre-approved, you will know the following:

  1. The maximum price you can afford. This will allow you to make a firm offer as well as move quickly on a house that may get other bids.
  2. How much money you need for down payment and closing costs.
  3. How much the seller will need to help with closing costs, if necessary. Discussing closing costs from the beginning can ensure you don’t lose the home during negotiations.
  4. If you have any credit issues and how you can resolve them.
  5. If you have been pre-approved for the loan. This is very attractive to sellers.
  6. That your paperwork has been submitted and processed. Therefore, you will not have lengthy waits for the bank to evaluate your credit, etc. when you’re ready to make an offer on a house.
  7. How long it will take for final approval of your loan.

You now know what you can afford, what you can offer, and what you need to negotiate from the seller. As a first-time homebuyer, you’ll have the facts and be ready to purchase your home. 

Now comes the fun part, shopping for your dream home!

We’re here to help first-time homebuyers. Contact our team today and we’ll walk you through each step of the process. We look forward to introducing you to your first home!

Make the Leap from Rent to Mortgage!

Make the Leap from Rent to Mortgage! (chalkboard rent to buy)

If you have been saving for a down payment and dreaming of owning your own home, you may feel like you’re ready to make the leap from rent to mortgage. You’ve been looking at your budget, and your future, and want to build equity in a home of your own. That’s the American dream!

The Columbus Team knows that the leap from rent to mortgage is more than just exchanging one payment for another. We want you to be prepared for both a lender’s evaluation of your financial readiness and the very real expenses of homeownership. That way, you can relax and enjoy the process of choosing and buying the home of your dreams.

Mortgage readiness checklist:

  • Budget for a rent/mortgage payment that is about 25% of your monthly income.
  • A great credit score allows banks to offer you lower interest rates on your mortgage, so it’s important to have the best score possible. Dispute mistakes, make on-time payments, and try to pay down balances until you are using only about 30-35% of your available credit. Don’t cancel your oldest accounts, as that shortens your history.
  • A down payment can affect your bottom line for years. If you put 20% down, you won’t be required to add mortgage insurance to your monthly payments but as little as 5% down is possible for purchase.
  • Debt-to-income ratio is another factor lender’s look at when evaluating your financial health. Paying off a small loan or getting your credit cards down to 30% of the total credit available can make you a more attractive lending risk. Ask your favorite lender what they look for, so you can prepare.
  • Factor taxes into the equation. Mortgage payments consist of payments to principal, interest, taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and other costs. Take a look at your favorite neighborhoods and find out the amount each homeowner pays per $100K of home value.
  • A condo can be the perfect home for many, just remember to add the HOA fee to your monthly expenses.
  • Set aside a certain amount for your home repair fund. You won’t have a landlord to call for fixing a clogged drain, broken appliance, or a leak in the roof.
  • Homeowners also mow their own lawns, shovel their own snow, and more. A small fund to purchase tools and supplies to care for your new home is wise choice!