Buying a home is an exciting time. Whether it’s your first or your fifth, there are a number of important questions that you should ask your real estate agent and your conveyancing lawyer.
Questions to ask estate agents
Why is the owner selling?
It may help to know why the owner is selling, as this could help you with the negotiation process. For example, they may be eager for a quick sale if they’re moving away for work.
How long has the property been on the market?
If the property has been on the market for a long time, ask the agent why the property isn’t selling. Is the price too high? Are there problems with the property other purchasers have found?
What does the sale include?
It is important to find out what is included in the sale. For example, is the pool equipment included with the pool? Is there anything that the vendor is taking with them that would usually be included?
What are the current property and water rates?
This is important and will allow you to ensure that you know whether you can afford the ongoing expenses of the property.
Have any major works been undertaken?
If the property has been recently renovated or had major works carried out, it is important to find out exactly what has been done, when and whether the works have had council approval.
Factors such as proximity to shops, public transport, schools and even the direction the property is facing should be considered.
How many offers have been made and what is the lowest price the vendor will accept?
The agent should tell you if there have been any offers. They may also give you an indication of what sale price the vendors will consider.
When does the vendor need to move out?
This will give you an idea of the time frame for completion of the purchase. The vendors may want a quick sale or may want to delay settlement until they find another house to purchase.
It is important to know what services are available to the property for example is it sewer or septic, does it have gas, town water, telephone or internet access.
Questions to ask your lawyer
Are you qualified?
It is vital to ensure that the person undertaking the legal work on your purchase is professionally qualified to do so. Don’t be afraid to ask how much experience your lawyer or conveyancer has.
What are the legal fees and disbursements?
Get a quote first on legal fees and disbursements. Often an exact quote cannot be given until your lawyer sees the contract, as the cost of post-exchange property searches can differ between councils. So ask them what the maximum cost will be.
Do you handle all details of the purchase including dealing with my bank?
Ensure the price quoted to you includes the lawyer dealing with your bank.
How long will it all take?
Ask your lawyer to explain the process to you. Once contracts have exchanged, you will have to wait til the matter settles. This is often a waiting game, so if you are aware of the timings to each step, you will not be surprised and you will understand exactly what your lawyer is doing to complete your purchase.
This is not an exhaustive list when purchasing a house or property. You will also need to consider other factors such as talking to your lender about whether you can afford it.
Remember to undertake your own research on any property you’re looking to purchase. Importantly, you need to be completely satisfied with the house that you are buying.
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