The real questions you should be asking when looking at a potential house…


Quite often during a showing a buyer will ask “why are the sellers moving?” or “how long have they lived here?”. I am not really sure what prompts people to ask this and the more it happens I must confess, I’m starting to get a little annoyed at the question.

Are they trying to figure out if the sellers are leaving because something is wrong with the house? Are they just nosy? Are they trying to find some leverage for their offer?


Maybe they are trying to get a feel for how motivated the seller is, always looking for negotiation angles, hoping to get their new house for as good a deal as possible…

There’s nothing wrong with any of that actually. But really, it doesn’t matter why a seller is leaving, and it doesn’t matter how long they’ve lived in the space. The question at hand that matters to you as a buyer is ~ does this space work for you?

So, instead of jumping ahead to a negotiation mind set with questions like “why are the sellers moving?” or “how long have the sellers lived in the house?” here are seven questions that you should be asking {both the list agent and yourself} that are 100% relevant to you, your search, and figuring out if a house is the one!

Questions for yourself:

Would I do updating?

There are a lot of homes on the market right now that are fine, but just need some updating. Are you willing to take on improvement projects, or do you want a space that is ‘done’ and you can just move into and enjoy? Think about this before you even start looking. You should be able to include or exclude potential properties before even scheduling a showing based on your feelings about this, but early in your search this is definitely helpful, and once you get clarity after being in a few spaces, you’ll have a much better idea of what will work for you or not

Does the layout work for me?

When you’re walking through a space, look at the size of the rooms, be mindful of how things are connected {or separated}. Does the layout work for you and the way you live? Do you have any preferences {like an open floorpan or a more traditional layout with separated rooms}. Ignore bad paint colors and imagine yourself in this space for the next few years, could it work? If you are only interested in an open floor plan, do not waste time looking at vintage spaces with lots of individual rooms, and vice vera, it’s a waste of time and will lead to frustration that is easily avoided.

Does this space have the features that are most important to me? 

You should have a list, and if you’ve written it down on paper ~ FANTASTIC! Congratulations, things are getting more real for you {if you haven’t made a need v.s want list on actual paper yet, stop reading this and go do it. It’s important and helps you get real, and get clarity on what’s really important to you and your search.} Does this space have the things that are most important to you? Sometimes you can figure this out before even scheduling a showing, but sometimes, things like flow between spaces, or certain amounts of natural light etc. require actually being in the space to figure out. Focus intently on these things, as you might have to work on looking past decor that doesn’t suite your taste, but could be easily changed… it’s easy to get distracted by things that are irrelevant, like paint color, furniture or design choices that just don’t matter… make sure you have your energy and your attention focused on the most important things.

Questions for the list agent:

How old are the mechanicals {furnace, A/C, water heater}? These are bigger ticket items and are not the ‘fun’ updates that anyone looks forward to making, and it’s important to be aware of aging units. Just because they are at the end of their ‘expected lifetime’ doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace it if it’s fully functional, but these costs are something that need to be budgeted for and anticipated for aging units.

How old is the roof? Again, the roof is a big item, and it’s important to be aware of its age, and if there have been any recent repairs done. If the roof is new that’s amazing for you, if it’s older, you need to plan and budget for repairs and potentially an eventual replacement.

What recent work has been done to the space? {if a condo you should ask about the unit and the exterior, as they are handled separately} It’s important to have a sense of recent repairs or projects that a seller has undertaken, so that you can know what you might need to plan for, or anything that has been updated {sometimes it’s about deciding whether you like how they executed a project as well} This can also give you a sense of how a homeowner {or condo building} approaches maintenance, which is important to know {proactive is always better!}.

Are there any rental restrictions? This one is really just for condo buildings, but if you are buying a property and are planning on renting it out in the future, this could be very important to you.

Once you’ve gone through all of these questions you might find yourself in love with a space… then it’s time to ask things like if the sellers have any preferences with timeline or other aspects of the sale that you might be able to address in an offer. You can actually just look up how long someone has lived in a space if you’re just dying to know that, and honestly, it’s nunya biznez why they are leaving, so maybe just leave that one out altogether ;)

Happy House Hunting!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s