Whether you are buying a new home or a piece of land on which you plan to build your dream home, there are a number of things you should ask your realtor before you make your final decision on a home purchase. You've probably asked quite a few questions already, but let's look at some questions you may not have thought to ask.
Visiting the property on different days and at different times of day and night will give you a bigger picture of the house and grounds. If you are serious about the purchase of a house that is unoccupied, your realtor may even be able to arrange for you to spend a night in that house. It's worth asking.
If your parcel of land is located near a natural body of water, a lake or stream, you may be in a flood zone. While this may not be an issue for you, it can be an issue for your lender. You can expect to need extra insurance for homes located in flood zones. For homes in certain types of flood zones, it can also be difficult to secure a mortgage, as many lenders are growing more cautious about risk. If your dream home is right on the river don't despair, but be aware you may need to do a little more work to secure your funding.
Each municipality, county and state does things a little differently. In some locations there may be a town real estate tax due once a year but also a county real estate tax paid twice a year. If you are changing states, your realtor will be able to tell you if there are additional personal property taxes, luxury taxes, or storm-water taxes that you may need to budget into lifestyle considerations.
If you are looking at more rural, or even suburban locations, you need to keep in mind your connectivity needs. While cellular hot-spots are always an option, you want to know going into it if that cell phone is going to be your only reliable internet access. Be sure to inquire with your local realtor for more information.
First, you may need to know what "fee simple" means. It's a legal term, and it will be mentioned in the deed to the property. When real estate is sold, it can be sold with all its rights intact (fee simple) or not. Previous owners may have sold mineral rights, timber rights, water rights or conservation rights, any of which may affect how you can use the property. Additionally there may be issues with something known as a "life estate" which creates a split fee. In plain English, this means that although you might buy the property someone with a life estate has the right to use the property for as long as they live and their rights would supersede yours.
Easements for power companies and utility lines are common and nothing to worry about. However, you do want to check if there are other right-of-way issues. Is your driveway the only access to someone else's property? It's not a deal breaker, but it is something to know about before you decide to purchase the property.
While online real estate listings generally mention school districts, you may want to ask about which voting district your new home would put you in. Knowing where your polling place is located and who your representative will be is often an overlooked part of buying a new home.
Your realtor may not have all the answers available off the top of their heads, but they will know where to find the answers to your questions. Ask everything you can think of. If it matters to you, your realtor will want to help you get answers. You deserve the best home for you and your family.