When thinking about buying a house, a little investigation can go a long way. These are 10 questions you should ask before purchasing a home.

  1. Are agents and brokers needed to help close the deal and offer advice? It’s commonly recommended, but not always necessary, to seek professional help for strategizing and negotiating.
  2. Is it affordable? Typically you don’t want to put more than 28% of your gross income toward monthly housing costs (mortgage principal, interest, taxes and homeowners insurance).
  3. Will the house fit your needs? Do you plan on having a family, expanding, remodeling, or are you looking for a home that has everything? Knowing what kind of house you are looking for will make it that much easier to narrow the search.
  4. Do you like the location? Moving again within the first few years of buying a house can increase the risk of losing money in the reselling process. (Money can be lost any¬way, but a quick turnaround increases the risk.)
  5. How long has the house been on the market? If it’s been there long, ask the realtor why; there may be a flaw in the house or it could simply be a bad housing market.
  6. What is the neighborhood like? Ask about the crime rate, proximity to health services, school quality, and what the traffic is like.
  7. How much should you offer? Base the offer on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. Consider this: if homes have sold at 5% less than asking price, make a bid that’s about 8% to 10% lower than what the seller is asking. Having the house appraised will also help you make this decision.
  8. What should the down payment be? Lenders usually require at least 20% of the home’s purchase price, but the lender may accept less with mortgage insurance.
  9. What condition is the house in? Make sure to have the home inspected by a professional. This way there won’t be any surprises after the purchase, such as dry rot or a leaky roof.
  10. What kind of mortgage will fit best? Shop around and compare interest rates, mortgage types (fixed or adjustable) and term lengths.