June 30th, 2011
In her article “6 Questions to Ask Your Home’s Seller Before Moving In” Tara-Nicholle Nelson offers several important questions to ask the previous home owner before you move in. Asking these will save you a lot of time and energy, and make the transition into your home much easier.
What’s the history of the house? Of course much of the history will be covered in the paperwork, but you may want to delve a little deeper. Tara-Nicholle Nelson suggests finding out if the house was ever a rental, whether the prior owners suggest a set maintenance schedule for any parts of the home, or there if are any interesting stories about past homeowners.
She says this will allow you to find out whether certain things work, but require a certain approach (a door that needs an extra nudge to close, or a handle that needs a certain jiggle). And, it will also allow you to request specific things, like the names of paint colors, warranties and instruction manuals for appliances, and names of contractors who did certain work.
Where to go and who to know? The current homeowner may be a good person to suggest things like the best drycleaner, take-out, hair salon, and market in town. They may also be able to tell you where to go for certain things, like where the board meetings are held.
What surprised them when they moved in? There will also be surprises when moving into a new place – some pleasant, some not so pleasant. While the seller may not disclose the unpleasant surprises, you might benefit from the pleasant ones, such as they were surprised at how much furniture could fit in a seemingly smaller room.
Where is it and how does it work? If your there for the home inspection you may already know a lot about the home, but they might not cover every little thing. You may want to ask where to take the trash out and on what day, and find out where the emergency water and electrical shutoffs, the breaker box and the utility meters are all located.
This is especially true for things that may not pertain directly to the house. As Nelson says,
…there are things like appliances, landscape lighting, sprinkler operating systems, septic tanks, basement pumps, pool filters and covers and hot tubs, which general home inspectors might not even look at.
Is there anything you’d like to leave? In some cases, there are things that were purchases specifically to fit the home, such as a certain television stand for a tough-to-fit spot. There are also things that are a big pain to move, and the seller may not want to deal with the removal of doors or patching of walls that are damaged in the process.
There’s no harm in asking the seller if there’s anything in the home that they don’t want. If you see something that looks like it was made for the house, like the perfect television stand, ask if they’d be willing to sell it. If you’re lucky, they’ll be happy enough not having to deal with getting it out, and may will it to you.
Is there anything else I should know? If you’re a new homeowner or new to the area, there may be things that you don’t even know you should ask about. If the transaction has been a friendly one, it doesn’t hurt to exchange phone numbers or email addresses for any questions that come up in the future.