Questions to ask at an ‘open house’ that can save you money

family inspecting a house

If you’re in the market for a new home you are probably no stranger to ‘open houses’ or property inspections. Inspecting a house in person is a great way for potential buyers to see whether or not it measures up to the listing agent’s market spiel. More importantly, you’ll get to find out more about the overall health and state of the home you may potentially purchase. If you know what questions to ask, that is.

Knowledge is power when buying real estate and getting the right info can help you avoid buying a complete dud. It can also be very useful when you are negotiating the price. Here is a list of questions to ask when attending an open house property inspection.

1.What’s the reason for selling?

A great way to start the conversation with the real estate agent is to ask “why is the current owner selling?”. There are of course many reasons as to why someone would want to sell their property; they may be outgrowing their existing home, downsizing or wanting to relocate because of work of family commitments. However, the reason could also relate directly to the house or the neighbourhood in a negative manner, which could be a potential red flag for a new buyer.

For example, there could be new major developments planned in close proximity to the house which might cause noise or interrupt the views, or in other ways make the house depreciate in value. You want to find out about these things sooner rather than later to be able to make an informed decision about the property for sale.

Bonus tip: Asking how long the property has been on the market may give you an indication on how much the previous owner is willing to negotiate the sale price on the property.

2. Any major developments planned?

The answer to this question may influence your decision depending on who you are as a buyer and what developments have been proposed. In general, new developments such as shopping centres, schools or medical clinics can be a draw card for many young families and retirees alike, while nightclubs or similar may have the opposite effect.

You may not always get an honest answer out of the seller agent – after all they are trying to sell the house. Therefore, it’s important to do your own research of the area and any proposed developments within the next few years to avoid any nasty surprises once you’ve moved in.

3. Have there been modifications or renovations?

A professional pre-purchase building inspection will discover any previous modifications and renovations to a home. However, if you like to arm yourself with as much knowledge and information about a property before arriving at the ‘pre-purchase state’ then asking these questions is a good idea. It could also be worth asking if there are any existing pre-approved extension or subdivision plans or council restrictions or covenants on the property should you want to alter the dwelling yourself in the future.

4. When was the house built?

Unfortunately, the old saying that “age is just a number” does not fit as well on houses as it does humans. It is true that old buildings can hold more character than newer dwellings, but they generally also cause more problems.

Knowing the age of a house allows you to look out for signs of deterioration or underlying issues that may become costly in future repairs. Enquiring about the age of the property let’s you see if it has sound structure and a quality construction. It may also give you a clue to whether or not the house may be exposed to asbestos, that was common in build materials for ceilings, roofs and walls before 1990.

Talk to the professionals

Damien - Ipswich building inspector

Don’t get fooled by a fresh coat of paint or rely on real estate agents’ answers about a property – it’s best to book in with a professional.

A professional building inspector will be thorough in examining the property and their detailed building inspection report will provide you with an honest assessment of the property’s condition and value, and can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

If you want to ensure your property has no structural issues, let Inspect My Home help you with your pre-purchase building inspection. We provide building and pest inspection services in QLD, NSW, and Western Australia.

Call us today at 1300 337 447 or book your inspection online.

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