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17 Questions to Ask When Viewing a House in California

17 Questions to Ask When Viewing a House in California

By Rebecca T.
March 12, 2021

Unless you’re a realtor or contractor, it’s unlikely you know everything about California’s housing market—especially since it’s always changing. What you can do is get yourself in the right mindset to approach the situation optimally. Whether you’re searching for a bigger home or the best places to buy a rental property, there are certain questions to ask when viewing a house

Do your research, understand your requirements,  and get familiar with the market. Have a few house viewing questions on hand—you’ll come out of the experience with all smiles and no regrets.

Questions to ask when buying a house

Buying a home is usually the single most expensive purchase you will ever make, so come prepared.

1. Why am I buying a house?

First and foremost, you need to understand your intent. Are you buying a house to rent it out? Are you moving there yourself? Are you buying with future plans of selling it again? Your requirements and questions to ask before buying a house change depending on the reason.

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2. What's my overall budget?

Looking at houses before determining a budget is a waste of time. A crucial question to ask yourself before buying a home is “How much can I spend?” There are other things to keep in mind besides the sales price—renovations, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and ongoing home maintenance to name a few. If you had to narrow down your list of what questions to ask when buying a house to one, this would be it.

Has the house piqued your interest? Dig deeper to see what makes it so valuable.

3. Which closeby amenities do I need most?

If you’re moving with your family, you might need good schools nearby. But if you’re a young professional living alone, you might want to be close to other young professionals. All California cities have different things to offer—by knowing what to ask when viewing a house to buy, you’ll determine which amenities are most important to you.

4. Is it a good time to buy?

The real estate market in California is constantly changing. Knowing the current market trends is important when negotiating a good price. You also need to be convinced that you’re putting your hard-earned money to good use by investing at the right time. 

Check the history of the area you’re planning on investing in. Have the prices continuously gone up? Could your investment pay off if you plan on selling in the future? Or would you get a better deal if you buy further down the line? Your real estate agent could help you with all your house viewing questions; just make sure to ask them.

Things to ask when viewing a house for the first time

Make sure you know what you’re getting for your money and learn where exactly the boundaries lie.

5. what's included in the sale?

Many times, houses are staged in specific ways that help sell them quicker. One of the most important questions to ask at a house viewing is if any furniture or appliances are included with the house. If you avoid this question and find a gaping hole in the kitchen where that designer fridge used to sit, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

6. were there any major renovations done to the house recently?

Find out what major renovations the seller has done since owning the home. Request the original manufacturer warranties to learn about its renovation history. This helps you better understand the seller’s asking price. Not only will you make more sense of the numbers, but you’ll plan future improvements to raise the value of your property—all thanks to this question to ask during a house viewing.

If the house has been on the market for three months or more, then you need to ask why.

7. how long has it been on the market?

The longer a house has been on the market, the more room you’ll have for negotiation with the seller. Many times, a home that has spent too long on the market will face several price reductions—it could leave the impression that something is wrong with the property. This is one of the questions to ask when viewing a house that gives you a prime opportunity to negotiate a deal.

8. how much are other homes selling for in the neighborhood?

Having doubts about whether the seller’s asking price is too high for the market? Understand the current local market by inquiring about similar houses in the area. Your real estate agent can help you in the matter by pulling a list of data for similar homes that have sold in the last six months or so for comparison. 

Questions to ask before buying a house in an established neighborhood

Ask the right questions and it’ll work out well for you.

9. how many owners has the house previously had?

Have an eerie feeling about the house you're viewing? This is one of those questions to ask when viewing a house that’ll put your mind at ease. Usually, when a house has had multiple owners buying and selling in a short period, that raises a few red flags. If people are putting their home on the market without much reward, there might be something the seller’s hiding about the house.

10. how long did the previous owners live here?

Even if a house hasn’t had a long history of several owners buying and selling, its last owner could say a lot about the house’s nature. The house may have been fine before, but developed a horrible mold problem in the past couple of years. Or a street was calm and quiet two years ago, but now has multiple frat houses a few doors down. The questions to ask when viewing a house truly change your whole perspective.

Having a set list of questions when buying a house will allow you to focus on the practical side of things when viewing a property.

11. What did this home last sell for?

This is especially relevant if you’re buying to sell. If previous sale prices have not shown much improvement, it might not be the best property for investment purposes. This is an overlooked first-time buyer question to ask when viewing. It can result in unforeseen challenges when planning to sell the house further down the line.

12. is the home energy efficient?

Energy-efficient updates made to the home will save you money in the long run. Eco-friendly windows, heating systems, smart home thermostats, and LED light bulbs make your space more environmentally friendly.

13. What are the schools like in the area

Oftentimes, when people fall in love with a house, they forget to check if the neighborhood fits their needs. When you have young children in your family, making sure the area has good schools is a crucial factor. If you need to move houses for a different school, that is going to cost you a lot.

Questions to ask when buying a new house

Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Buying a house is a big investment and you need to be well informed of your decision.

14. is the location prone to natural disasters?

You found your dream home and the asking price is remarkably low—what’s the catch? One of the most important questions to ask when viewing a house is whether it’s prone to natural disasters. If it has a history of being flooded or subject to earthquakes, you might need to steer clear of that neighborhood.

15. What are the neighbors like?

People often underestimate the importance of a good community when looking at homes. This issue becomes more prevalent after you’ve moved in and settled. No matter how perfect the house is, your experience can easily turn sour if the neighborhood is unwelcoming.

You may have found your dream home, but it’s important to remember that you’re buying with your head.

16. What are the land use rights?

These include the right to use, occupy, make profit from, and dispose of the land by owners and users. First-time buyers often assume that owning land means they can use it in whatever way they see fit. By not asking the right house viewing questions, you may find out you can’t build a dream house on your land when it’s too late.

17. are there any future plans for the neighborhood?

Do some digging to figure out if there are any big upcoming plans for the neighborhood you’re interested in. This house viewing question notifies you if that open green field next door is about to be developed into a mall. These issues will impact the experience you’ll have living at the location and affect the value of the house you’re interested in over the long term.

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