5 Common Sense Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home

Get the whole story about a house before you buy it.
Get the whole story about a house before you buy it. Photo credit: Prudence Siebert

A home’s history and character are often its most desirable assets, especially on the East End, but a storied past or legendary former owner may come at the cost of shoddy repairs, outdated plumbing and neglect.

With that in mind, buyers need to look at the entire picture, rather than be seduced by a few lovely details. Don’t fall in love with that historic widow’s walk or famous architect and commit to buying before considering these five important questions.

1. What is the condition of the home?

Make sure an engineer looks over the wiring, heat, insulation and plumbing—and check that the house and roof are structurally sound. Flooding and mold can be devastating, so look at drainage and the basement as well.

2. What did the seller pay for the house?

The market may have been different then, but it helps to know if the value has gone up or down commensurate with similar homes in the area.

3. Will the location suit your needs?

Consider the things that matter to you. If you have children, or plan to, look into the school district. Does this municipality have fair taxes for what it offers? Are there neighbors or nearby businesses that could cause undue nuisances?

4. What’s the story here?

While a home’s history can be a plus—George Washington spent the night, cold fusion was invented in the basement—it can also hurt the value. Sellers are required to disclose any dark history, but sometimes you have to ask. Was a historic crime committed there? Is it haunted? Know before you go.

5. Will the home fit your life in the future?

Does it fit your needs if you expand your family? Is the property zoned to allow expansion or the addition of amenities? A swimming pool, for example, can make a difference if you plan to rent.

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