Buying a new home can be a daunting task, even if it isn’t your first time. You may be nervous about finding the right house or getting a good deal. Maybe you are unsure about the neighborhood, especially if you are moving out of town. In a seller’s market like the one we are currently seeing, you may feel pressured to act quickly without taking time to compare your options.

A real estate agent will help you navigate these murky waters, but there are still some risks when buying a new home. As you start looking for homes, you should be doing your research alongside your agent, and that means asking the right questions. Make sure you ask these 8 particularly important questions before signing your name on the dotted line.

Are there any rules, restrictions, or fees in this neighborhood?

Oftentimes, neighborhoods with Homeowners Associations have restrictions on certain structures and activities. For example, there may be size or breed restrictions for pets, or you may not be able to fence in your yard. Other common rules may limit your ability to rent out your home, install a pool, or renovate. In addition, HOAs often pass a monthly or annual fee that every household must pay. These fees usually cover the maintenance of common areas and amenities within the neighborhood.

Is the home priced right for this area?

In the current market, with low inventory and a large pool of buyers, sellers are able to price their homes much higher than if the market was flipped. You may come across a home with a price tag that is way more than what you think it is worth. In some cases, this may be true, but value isn’t necessarily about the size or features of the home. Ask your agent how much homes have been selling for in that area recently. By knowing this information, you can make a more strategic decision about the home and how much you should offer.

Have there been any additions or renovations?

Older homes sometimes lack the functionality or appearance that many buyers look for nowadays. For this reason, it is not uncommon for a house to have undergone changes, additions, or renovations. If you find out about this type of work being done in a home, ask about warranties, and be sure to have the entire home inspected by a professional. This will help you understand the true quality of the home and give you knowledge of any major issues in structure, safety, or important systems.

What is included in the sale?

As you tour houses, never assume that the appliances inside the home are included in the sale. Some examples are the refrigerator, washer, dryer, and alarm system. In general, anything “permanently attached” to the home, or affixed, should be included. This includes light fixtures, ceiling fans, cabinets, and similar structures. However, the seller may be under a different impression, and you should always find out exactly what is staying and what is leaving.

What is the age and condition of the roof, major systems, and appliances?

Buying a house costs a lot of money, but it is unwise to empty your savings on the house itself. Inevitably, something will need replacing at some point after you move in. Be sure to ask about the age and condition of the roof, heating and cooling system, and other appliances. This will help you estimate how much longer each one will last, and it may give you bargaining power if you know you will have to replace something expensive in the near future.

Are there any health or safety hazards?

There are many risks and factors to consider before making an investment in a house. Ask about the risk of flooding and natural disasters, previous or current leaks, damages, and environmental hazards such as lead-based paint or radon gas. All of these could put you or your property at risk without the proper knowledge and actions.

How much are the utilities?

Alongside your mortgage payment, taxes, and insurance, you will be responsible for paying the utilities in your home. If you’re moving to a new area, you may be surprised by the average costs of things like water, sewer, heat, energy, and internet. You’ll also want to be prepared for any costs associated with garbage pickup, pest control, or exterior maintenance.

What are the school ratings?

If you have kids or expect to in the near future, you should check to see which schools your new home is zoned for. Keep in mind, your agent cannot give a statement about school ratings or reputation, however, they may direct you to helpful resources that give the information you need.


Buying a home comes with many responsibilities and financial obligations, and it is worth it to find out as much as you can about those factors before you even make an offer. The neighborhood or area you live in can impact your daily life in a big way as well, and you should always inquire about restrictions, fees, nearby schools, and risks of natural disaster.

Your real estate agent can give you advice, guide you through the home buying process, and find out valuable information for you, but you should always come prepared with your own questions. These 8 questions will help you uncover important information about any house or neighborhood, and asking them will help your agent understand what your priorities are as you shop for your home.

If you do not have a real estate agent, or if you need some guidance in your home search, Sheridan Solomon & Associates are happy to help. Our agents can be your step-by-step guide in buying a home so that you are confident throughout the entire process. Give us a call or contact us on our website to get started or to learn more about our services.