If the opportunity presents itself, here are
8 Smart Questions
To Ask A Home Seller
Very often while visiting a home, the homeowner will say, "If you have any questions, feel free to ask." This is an open invitation to ask any or all of the innocent sounding (but very revealing) questions below.
1. What is the "asking price"? or What are you "asking" for the house?
The way this question is presented and answered by the home seller can set the tone for all future discussions. Using the term "asking price" implies that the listed price is only a suggestion and is open to discussion.
2. Why is the home for sale?
Understanding why the home is for sale is extremely useful information? There might be a very motivating and compelling reason behind the decision to sell. The homeowner may have already purchased another home.
3. When do you wish to close?
On the surface, this appears to be an innocent question but the closing date is very often a significant part of the negotiation and the offer to purchase. Once a seller reveals his or her ideal "move-out" date, you have removed a major issue from the negotiation.
4. How long have you lived in the home?
This information may also give you some insight into the seller's motivation. If the seller has only lived in the home for a very brief period of time, there may be an urgent need to move (i.e. divorce, relocation, financial distress, etc.) or there may be a problem with the house or neighborhood (i.e. the new shopping center proposal for the beautiful wooded property directly across the street, an irreconcilable dispute with a crazy neighbor, etc.)
5. What improvements, repairs & upgrades have you made recently?
Often "improvements" are undertaken in order to correct a problem. Make certain that the problems have been 100% corrected and not just reduced or temporarily corrected in order to sell the home. Also, very recent improvements sometimes are "over-calculated" into the asking price of the home?
Also make sure all the appropriate permits and approvals have been obtained & "signed off" for any work that was performed?
6. How long has the home been on the market?
Research the listing & pricing history of the home. The answer to these questions could give you further insight into the home seller's motivation.
A house that has been on the market for awhile, without any interest from buyers or without any adjustments to the list price may be a sign of a homeowner who is just not motivated to sell or a sign that "something is wrong with the house".
7. Have there been any offers?
Another innocent sounding question that could open the door to some very revealing conversation. With this question you are implying that you have some interest in the property. The agent or the homeowner, in his or her enthusiasm to "close the deal", may be tempted to divulge an enormous amount of additional information.
8. Have any engineering, termite or radon inspections been performed? Is there a completed seller's disclosure document?
By law, this information must be disclosed. Concealing a material defect in a home is a serious matter.
© Copyright 2007 Bill Boeckelman Publications