Avoid nasty surprises after moving in. Here are a few questions buyers should ask sellers before they move in.
Buyers will glean plenty of information from the seller’s disclosure agreement, the home inspector, and maybe even their new neighbors. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few questions they should ask the seller at the walkthrough or before closing.
Have you had any past problems with the home that you’ve repaired?
Sellers typically must disclose existing problems or issues related to the home, but they aren’t always required to disclose past problems that have been repaired.
“Here in Georgia, anything significant that has happened—whether it was repaired or replaced—needs to be disclosed in the seller’s statement," says Bill Golden, a real estate pro with RE/MAX Metro Atlanta Cityside in Atlanta. “However, it varies by state and sellers aren't always required to fess up.”
Golden recommends buyers use the disclosure as a starting point to pry for anything more, such as by saying, "I’ve read the disclosure statement. Is there anything else that has happened or that you’ve done that would be helpful to know?”
Can you tell me where the water shutoff valve, sump pump, circuit box, and more are located?
Ask the seller to show you the location of these important valves and switches. “Hopefully, the home inspector will locate all of these things and point them out to the new buyer as part of educating them about their new house,” Golden says. “But not all inspectors do that, so these are important safety questions.”
Is there anything you wanted to leave behind?
“Most things that are being left, such as appliances, are dealt with in the original contract,” Golden says. “But, as it gets closer to closing, sellers are often wanting to unload some other things, too. You might get lucky and wind up with something great." It might be worth at least a question.