Ask These 4 Questions to Save Money on a Home Purchase

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  • Buying a home certainly isn't cheap.
  • It's important to find out why a particular house is on the market so you can tailor your negotiations to the situation.
  • You'll also want to know how the neighbors are, and whether you'll need to replace costly large appliances before moving in.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease (and spends less on housing).

Buying and owning a home is likely to be one of the most expensive money moves you'll ever make. Not only will you have upfront costs (such as a down payment to secure a mortgage loan), but you'll also be responsible for ongoing expenses like maintenance and homeowners insurance. As such, it pays to ask the right questions going into the process, as the answers will give you the knowledge you need to save money on the costs of homeownership. Add the following questions to your checklist for your home search.

1. Why is this home for sale?

This is exactly the kind of question that can give you the edge in the home-buying process and position your offer to be the one the seller chooses. If it turns out the home is on the market because the seller has gotten a new job and has to relocate right away, you can negotiate based on this information. You might be able to offer less if the seller has to keep to a specific timeline for moving out. Conversely, if the seller is in no real hurry to move and is trying to get as much money as possible for the house, you might not want to waste your time if you're not willing to overpay.

2. How are the neighbors?

Everyone has a bad neighbor story, and the home you're considering making an offer on might come with a potential one built right in. Remember the Griswold family from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? Now imagine having them as neighbors, and you'll understand why it's best to ask this question ahead of making an offer. This isn't to say you'll end up with neighbors who bring your property value down with their questionable holiday decor choices or obnoxious house guests, but if they have a dog that barks all hours of the night, you might want to avoid buying that property.

3. Were any additions or major repairs made?

If the home you're considering is listed as having four bedrooms, and one of them was a recent add-on, it's a good idea to find out as much as you can about how the work was performed. Was it done to code? Can you view a copy of the permit to ensure the work was performed correctly? Similarly, if the house just got a new roof last year, ask who did the job and see if it came with a warranty from the roofing company. If something goes wrong, you'll need to know who to call and can keep more money in your bank account by not having to shell out for repairs.

4. Do the appliances come with it?

If you've fallen in love with the stove and refrigerator in the well-appointed kitchen, you're going to want to ask if they actually come with the home. The previous owners may be intending to take them along to their new home, meaning you'll have to open your wallet to purchase new appliances (or find a friendly financing option if you don't have the money ready to replace them).

If you're making a budget to buy a home and are dreading shelling out so much money, be sure to ask the above questions. They could mean the difference between being locked into an expensive home that isn't right for you and finding just the right house to buy for your life and your financial situation.

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