When you’re going to showings and open houses, you might come across a home that seems to check all the boxes on your wishlist. It’s certainly exciting to feel as though you’ve found “the one” and to start thinking about making an offer. But, as you check out the rooms, and are wowed by the staging and begin imagining your own life in the prospective home, it’s a good idea to gather some intel, too.

Asking the right questions can help you make a stronger offer, not to mention determine whether the home is the right fit for your family. Here are five important questions to ask on your next home tour:

How Long Has This Home Been On The Market?

While your real estate agent can analyze market data to help inform your offer, knowing the days on the market (or DOM) of a property can also provide you with some valuable information. If a home is new to the market, you probably don’t have much wiggle room to come in under the listing price. But, if it’s been on the market for a few months, you may be able to make an offer that’s below asking. However, keep in mind that in hot real estate markets like Denver and the Bay Area, homes get snapped up at breakneck speeds. On average, homes stay on the market for 46 days, according to the national figures from the National Association of Realtors®. In Denver, though, the DOM is 39 days. And homes in the hottest Bay Area markets fly off the market in just 20 days.

(Need tips for how to stay competitive in a hot real estate market? Check out our recent blog post with everything you need to know!)

When Was The Roof Last Replaced?

When it comes to homeownership, replacing a roof is one of the most expensive projects you can take on, typically costing anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. Of course, part of that cost is determined by the type of roof you have and the size of your home. Depending on which materials are used, a roof typically lasts about 20 to 25 years. Knowing when the roof was last replaced will help you determine when you’ll need to budget for future repairs.

How Old Are The Appliances?

Inquire about the appliances. Will they be included? How old are they? Are any still under warranty? Washers, dryers, refrigerators and dishwashers typically have 10 to 13-year lifespans, according to Sears Home Services. Meanwhile, stovetops can last about 15 to 18 years and gas ranges can last for 15 years. Of course, maintenance and usage can come into play and affect how long your appliances will last. For example, a family of five likely uses the washer and dryer more than a couple does. You can inquire about maintenance routines, as well. For instance, have the refrigerator coils been cleaned regularly? While you’re asking about appliances, it’s also a good idea to suss out whether there have been any water leaks in the kitchen or major repairs, and if so, what happened? You may also want to ask about the water pressure, and whether the pressure holds up while using using multiple water sources in the home, such as dishwashers, showers, washing machines and sinks.

Are There Any Upcoming HOA Assessments?

When you’re asking about HOA dues, understand what all is included. Do the HOA dues cover things like a neighborhood pool, snow removal, or sewage? Have dues been increasing or decreasing year-over-year? It’s also a good idea to ask about whether there are any special assessments coming up to cover big projects. These types of HOA surprises can cost thousands, so you should find out upfront if you’ll be on the on the hook for the bill.

Are There Any Issues With The Front Or Back Yards?

Don’t wait until the inspection to ask about any potential issues that affect the home’s yard and foundation. Are there any areas that tend to pool water and get soggy? What kind of considerations were made when the yard was landscaped to ensure there’s no flooding? Are there any pests or bug problems that need to be addressed? It’s also good to ask about property lines.

One final piece of advice to keep in mind while you’re doing home tours: Remember that a well-staged home can drive up the listing price, in some cases by as much as 25 percent. Always remember to look beyond the pretty picture that’s being painted for you, and dig into the details.

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