Before making an offer...

schutjerApril 5, 2011

So, what questions should we ask before we make an offer?

Home was built in 1956, and is a Dutch colonial, 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 2700 sq feet finished including the basement.

We have looked at home once, and are planning on taking another look before we make an offer.

We know stairs going to 2nd level need to be redone, as they sag, and are different widths. Also part of backside of roof, needs knew shingles, and gutter installed on a small section.

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Do you have a buyer's agent? S/he could guide you along this path. That's what we've always done, doesn't cost you a cent because the commission is split between the seller's and buyer's agents, paid for by the seller. With our last home, we didn't even call one till we knew we wanted the home. Easy money for her :-)

Presumably if you make an offer, it will be conditional on passing a building inspection.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 1:07PM
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Yes, conditional on passing inspection. I take we add that to offer?

We plan on just using realtor to make offer and close.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 1:35PM
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You should involve an agent sooner than later, as they have access to information that you don't. (Previous sales, disclosure reports, etc.)
(At least in my state they do, ymmv)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 2:32PM
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Using an agent is free to you so you might as well take advantage of that. Why not?

I ask tons of questions. That's why I like when an owner is around. Ask and let them talk. The list is endless. The age of all the systems, why are they selling, how long have they lived there, how are the neighbors, what's under the carpet, why are those stairs sagging, what happened to the gutter, when do they want to close? There are hundreds of things you can ask.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 11:33PM
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Do you mean a realtor? The realtor who is selling our home is the agent who has been showing us homes.

What should we check during this visit before making offer? Do we try all faucets, appliances that are staying etc? Other? Thx

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 12:18AM
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That's what a home inspector is for, to check the systems and find out what works or doesn't.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 1:07AM
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Don't forget financing and appraisal contingency, both very important in this market. Analyze all recent sold comps - not what is listed. Check the foreclosure and short sale activity in the area as these properties might affect the value of the home you want to buy. Buyer beware - don't believe anything said verbally. For example don't take their word that permits were pulled for an addition. Ask for copies of the permit or go to town hall yourself and get the copies.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 1:59AM
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During your next visit, before making an offer, I don't think you need to test everything. Like someone else said, that is what the inspection is for later on. One thing that might be helpful is to note any items that you want to stay with the house so you can write them up in your offer. I asked for a corner hutch once, because it matched so perfectly the woodwork in the dining room.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 8:54AM
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One time, before making an offer, I asked for the disclosure statement. Usually this is done when a property in under contract, but there are many motivated sellers now. Anyway, in that case, I decided not to make an offer based on an earlier water problem.

I have had a buyers' agent and he was good, but remember that the only person who will look out for the buyers interests is the buyer. All agents want to get to close and that is not always in the buyers best interest.
Remember contingencies -- inspection, financing, appraisal -- you need to be able to get out. Also keep the earnest money as low as possible (most of the time I've seen $5,000 as normal). My buyers' agent thought ten thousand would be a better figure -- but as I said -- all agents want to get to close.
Good luck

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 9:29AM
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The seller should want higher earnest money...the buyer will want lower. However, if you are serious about this house, the higher earnest money will show your serious interest.

You need all the normal contingencies.

Why not ask your realtor for a sample of the contract? Then you can read all the things that, legally, are covered (unless you also have an attorney who advises more).

As susana said, realtors look out for realtors and the close aka their commission check. For this reason, we have always had a lawyer review our contract (and made a lawyer's review part of the contract). We've added things every single time to the standard contract, things that ultimately saved us money and lots of aggravation.

You should also be aware that, in most cases, if the inspector doesn't catch something wrong with the house, the inspector's report is written in such a way that he/she isn't liable either.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 9:47AM
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"One time, before making an offer, I asked for the disclosure statement. "

Depending on what state you are in the disclosure (even if required by state law) may not be worth the paper it is printed on.

In many states the only way to take action against a false/defective disclosure is to bring suite.
Unless the defect is VERY expensive it is rarely worth the effort.

You will spend more trying to sue than it would have cost to perform the repair, often with no good way to recapture your legal cost (the US does not have a 'loser pays' system except in a very few cases).

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 9:54AM
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I disagree about testing things like faucets and toilets and looking for leaks ect. NEVER when buying rely on someone else for answers to things you can easily check on your own.
Use the inspection as a general guide as to what might be future problems DO NOT rely on it to catch everything. Inspections are only as good or bad as the people who do them. I've had them done in some states where they took hours and checked every outlet and square inch of the house. I've had others where they only would walk thru and take a quick look to see if the outlets had covers and that the sinks weren't leaking. You need to be there if you can.

IMHO if you have a good friend or family member who you trust and is honest with you I'd bring them thru as a second set of eyes to take a look at things. Two sets of eyes often see things differently. Even better if one is a contractor friend. They can at least give you a ball park number what a particular repair might cost you.

READ and READ again EVERY bit of paper that is given to you to sign. DO NOT sign anything till you have read it and understand it.
At closing double check ALL math and calculations. Can't tell you how many times my DH has caught huge mistakes that would have cost us money because someone didn't do the math correctly.

If there is open land around you make sure you know BEFORE you buy what it's going to be used for and what the zoning is. Zoning is very important.
It how a area determines what kind of buildings can go on a property. Knowing the zoning and the zoning laws can save you lots for trouble down the line.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK and don't assume anything. If you don't know ask your agent to find out for you that's part of their JOB.

If there is something particular to the house that you want to make sure stays with the house, like a certain light fixture or the draperies or appliances ask for it in the offer.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 3:35PM
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This is a great site, thanks!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 7:43PM
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- I printed out my own check sheet and used it on my second look before I made an initial offer.

- Ask the age of the appliances (I assume they are all staying), Then look at the cost of replacing them. Washer/fridge and not cheap these days.

- Ask the age of furnace/air system. Now this is big bucks getting replaced considering the age.

- Ask the age of the roof, when was it last done? You mentioned some new shingles, get up into that attic and look for water damage. A new roof is not cheap. Look at the facia/soffiets, tap them with a hammer looking for rot.

- Don't think just because you are going to get an inspection the inspector will find everything. Ask the inspector to use the infrared viewer. They usually charge an extra 100 dollars but it is worth it to look for heat loss and water damage hidden behind the walls.

- Go online and see if they have any pending building permits. They got a fence? was it permitted? deck? same thing. I got burned on the fence with this home.

- Look for major cracks in the foundation, sidewalk, driveway, settling?

- You would be surprised what a coat of paint and a smile can hide.

- Make up your hit/remodel/fix list and get a ball price figure what a GOOD contractor will charge you to fix it. Just a ball park figure will do for now.

- Is the electrical up today? I would think they have the two prong vice 3 prong outlets? ..also copper wiring?

- How is that bathroom looking? all original? how much water you think is behind that tile?

- toilets the older, 6gpf models, there is a update to the new dual flush models (100 bucks for the builder model at home depot).

- look for any "weekend handyman/dad" updates. Most are usually not done very well and no permits. Did they finish the basement or hire a contractor?

- How is that garage door looking? same with that garage door opener?

- Still got that popcorn on the ceiling? How about those 50 year old windows? not so energy efficent.

Now - add it all up and come in with a fair offer. List everything you think needs to be replaced, fixed etc...and attach it to the offer. Some realtors give you that "don't insult" the seller bs...forget that!. Balance how bad you want this house against how many weekends you want your hubby fixing a major "honey do list"...

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 9:09PM
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When we signed with our agent, she immediately checked to see that all work on the house had permits. She discovered our sunroom did not have a final permit. There was one, but it was never filed. I got that straightened out. She requested a survey of the property - gave her that. She came and inspected the house taking notes. Asking when the furnace was installed, did I have original receipts, central air receipts and proof when the units were replaced.

All of this took place before my house was listed.

Before the offer was submitted, the buyers agent requested any receipts for work done including septic, well, utility bills, oil bills, roof receipts, etc. These were all scanned and sent to the buyers agent.

Offer was then submitted and we accepted. A home inspection was scheduled. That inspection took all day. This inspector was all over the house with a partner. They inspected everything, tested everything. Ran our water from every faucet for an hour. (I was afraid we'd run out of water because our well is not very deep). Left radon test kits, tested for lead paint and ran septic tests. Turned on all kitchen applicances, washer and dryer, checked all electricial, etc.

My house was soooo inspected, it made me nervous. They were up in the attic, crawl space, under the deck, foundation and took photos of everything.

The buyers were present during inspection as I was. I answered any questions and spent time talking to the buyers showing them how things worked.

Frankly, I think the inspector was quite thorough but a bit too much. He made some recommendations which I found questionable.

I don't see any reason why you would have to ask for things when your agent, and the buyers agent, would request it. The inspector should check everything.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 10:48PM
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Yes, I definitely think you should turn on faucets and flush toilets and open windows, things like that. I would do those kind of things on my second visit. If you still like it after the second visit and you are able to make a deal, that's when you'd call an inspector. (We personally don't use inspectors anymore. My husband has the expertise to do it himself and no inspector has ever caught anything that we couldn't see ourselves. But if you are not experienced in this, you might want to get one.)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 11:27PM
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