1. Before making the offer, how much did the seller pay for the home?
Although in many cases the original purchase price may have nothing to do with the current value of the home, it’s always a good idea to ask.
For example, if the seller only bought the home about five years ago and the markets haven’t vastly skyrocketed or plummeted (and the seller didn’t do renovations), the price shouldn’t be drastically far off from the original. Finding this number out can sometimes help you to negotiate a better deal.
It’s also worth asking them why they’re selling the home if they bought it recently—if there’s something about it the seller didn’t like, it might be worth getting the scoop from an inside perspective.
2. Are there any foreclosures for sale near the home you’re making an offer on?
Maybe you fell in love with the home, or maybe you fell in love with the location. If the latter, then you have a good chance at getting a similar home at a much cheaper price if there are foreclosures for sale in your target neighborhood.
It’s always good to be aware of the property’s surroundings, and if your agent alerts you of some nearby foreclosures, it’s definitely worth a thought to consider one. Also, the presence of foreclosures in a given neighborhood will create competition—so you may be able to offer less on the home you’re after.
3. What’s the property you’re making an offer on worth?
This one’s probably a no-brainer, but you need to get an accurate idea of how much the home you’re looking to buy is worth in today’s market.
Your real estate agent won’t tell you an exact number to submit for your offer, but they can give you a really good idea by providing you with the prices that “comps” (or comparables) in the area recently sold for.
4. How long has the property been on the market?
This is related to the question above and is just as important to find out. If the home has been sitting on the market for a few months, it could be a tell-tale sign that it’s overpriced. It could also be a slow market or an area where people really aren’t looking to buy—and to that, you should ask yourself why.
5. How flexible is the seller on the asking price?
Although it may seem like an awkward question to ask, the seller’s agent should provide you with a clear answer: either there’s wiggle room or there’s not.
It’s far better to get an inside understanding of how flexible the seller may be with the asking price than insulting the seller directly by offering something far below what they think their home is worth.
6. Will the seller help with the closing costs?
Similar to finding out if the seller is flexible with their asking price, you should also find out if they’re willing to offer any concessions. This includes helping out with closing costs or paying for repairs that need to be made. Knowing this sooner than later will help you budget as you get closer to closing.
7. Are there any previous or current issues with the home?
Even if the house looks picture-perfect, it’s important to remove your rose-colored glasses and realize that there could be more to it than meets the eye.
Since you’ll be getting a home inspection anyway, it’s definitely worth it to ask the seller upfront of any issues they’re aware of so you can double-check on them during the inspection.
Even if the home looks great, previous damage (like a fire that caused structural issues) might not be immediately apparent if it’s hidden behind walls.
8. Are there any changes planned for the surrounding area?
It’s probably good to know if the neighborhood you fell in love with before buying your home will be that same neighborhood after moving in.
Are there any proposed plans to build commercialized areas near the property that could increase traffic or just general construction that could bring round-the-clock noise? Or maybe there’s a new school in the works, which could actually add value to the home.
9. What is the seller’s timeline?
Some sellers are trying to get the process done quickly—they might have to move for a new job or they could (unfortunately) be going through a divorce. In these cases, they might be willing to take the first acceptable offer they see.
This means one of two things: someone else might beat you to it, or you can possibly go in at a lower price, hoping they’ll accept it to move the process along.
On the other hand, a seller might not be ready when you are. They might be waiting on everything to go through with the new home they’re moving into. Knowing the seller’s preferred settlement date before putting in an offer will help you plan your next steps smoothly.
10. Have there been any other offers?
This is the golden question. If other offers have been made on the home you’re after, you should find out what those other offers were and why they were rejected.
Don’t assume that another person’s offer was declined due to price alone, making you feel like you have to up your offer—there may have been other conditions that led to the rejection (like settlement timing, no pre-approval letter, or a disagreement of terms).