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5 Things Home Buyers Must Know

By Veronica Nguyen · Apr 3, 2015 · Real Estate

5 Things Home Buyers Must Know

Image courtesy of Flickr, Cory Doctorow

All home buyers must know what to look for when viewing a home for sale, what questions to ask during the viewing and what strategies to use when making an offer.

1. Check Behind The Paint

Sometimes a house on the market will very look nice on the surface, but don't let the fresh paint and a new kitchen backsplash distract you from discovering potential problems behind the paint. Some problems you could discover are the presence of asbestos, mold, and lead-based paint. Take precautions when checking for these toxins.

Things to Look For During Your Inspection


Homes built between 1920 and 1989 are very likely have used asbestos during construction. If you see parts of the homes construction degrading, it is important to check these areas for asbestos. If the construction appears to be in good condition then you can leave it alone for the meantime. Refer to the Consumer Product Commission for more information about Asbestos.


Mold will develop in damp and wet areas of a home, so be sure to check for any leaks around the house, look for water stains on ceilings, the appearance of shaded dark spots, and any musty smells. Read more about the facts of mold at the Center for Decease Control and Prevention.

Lead-based paint

This metal based paint can be poisonous to you and your family's health if it has been chipping or peeling. The best way to find out if a house has been painted with based-lead paint is to hire an expert to test it for you. However, this is something that a seller should disclose to you prior to the sale.

Take a trusted family member or a friend in the real estate industry with you as a second pair of eyes during your initial walk-through of the property.

2. Inspect, Inspect & Inspect

Many people move into their new home only to end up spending money making expensive, unexpected repairs. Had they investigated more carefully during their home inspection period, they could have negotiated a reduction in the sales price or have the sellers pay for the repairs to offset these costs. Don't let this happened to you. Make sure you hire a reputable and licensed home inspector to do a thorough inspection of the property. Ask you real estate agent for referral to a reputable inspector.

Good Questions to Ask During The Viewing

Are The Pipes Working?

Moving into a place with broken or old pipes can become an unexpected expense in the future, so make sure you ask if there have been problems in the past to assess estimates for future repairs.

When Was The Roof Replaced?

According to experts, a roof should be replaced every 20 to 50 years depending on the material used. If you're buying an older home then it is particularly important to ask this question to see how much life the roof has left.

Have There Been Any Major Repairs to The Home?

Major home repairs can be any work done on the foundation, support beams, plumbing or electrical wiring. Essentially, anything requiring substantial amounts of money and labor should be considered a major repair. If there have not been any major repairs, then you want your inspector to tell you if there will be the possibility of having to do major repairs in the near future.

3. Have Sellers Get Rid of Junk

From time to time, you will find homes and yards full of the previous resident's unwanted items. When making the purchase offer, ask your real estate agent to included contingencies to remove any items you do not wish to keep. This will save you the money and time to hire people to get rid of junk for you.

4. Don't Rush

Buying a house can be an exciting moment in your life, and this excitement can easily make you rush into a purchase. Make sure you take time to get to know the neighborhood and surroundings first. Ask the neighbors questions about what the neighborhood is like, in addition, it is wise to investigate further on your own.

Further Investigation

  • Check public records with the county to see what construction permits have been pulled in the past for the home you are looking to buy.

  • Check with your real estate agent or online property value websites to see what prices other homes have sold for in a particular area.

  • Use crime reporting websites to check what criminal activity is taking place in the neighborhood.

5. Strategize Before Making an Offer

Strategizing is an important step in the process of buying a home. You don't want to pay too much for the home, but you also don't want to lose the opportunity to buy because you offer is too low.

Questions to Consider When Strategizing with Your Real Estate Agent

Why Are The Homeowners Selling?

It is possible the homeowners are in a hurry to sell because they are moving out of state, need to settle debts, or are going through a divorce. Knowing the reason for selling the home can help you create a better purchase strategy.

Does The Square Footage Match Public Records?

If the square footage on public records is less than what the sellers claim, it is possible there are unpermitted additions to the home. This will be just cause for you to make a lower offer.

Is The Selling Price Similar to Comparable Homes In The Neighborhood?

It is always wise to make sure the price of the home is appropriate for the neighborhood, because you may run into issues with your lender if the home's appraisal value comes in much less than what you agreed to pay for it. Using the information at your disposal, you will be able to better strategize to buy a home at the best price.

At the end of the day, not all the homes you view will be perfect for you. Knowing what to ask and what to look for will give you better ideas about whether or not you will be able to repair the home to your liking, or if it will be more appropriate to simply walk away from the deal.

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In this article we explore some creative financing options for your next home purchase. Read more.