10 Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Home

An experienced realtor and a good read-through on the MLS listing can yield all kinds of helpful information in deciding whether or not a home is right for you. From the schools in the area, the annual taxes, the number of bedrooms or the year it was built, solid information is readily available with a little research.


But what are some hidden keys to learning if a house is truly right for you to buy?

As you walk through a specific house, here are 10 Questions to ask before you make an offer:

  1. Will the windows need to be replaced?

If the answer is yes, new windows can be costly — sometimes in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000. Are they closing properly, or are they in need of repair? Do they have lead-based paint?

  1. What’s the position and quality of the trees?

Large, established trees in an area can boost home values, but they can also bring potential problems. Do they look rotted? Are any dying or in need of replacement? How much fall clean-up is involved — and can you handle that?

  1. Are there any signs of pests?

Are there signs of mice, ants, roaches, or other insects and pests? Be sure to check inside cabinets, behind appliances, and other added spaces like basements and attics. Do the current owners have a pest removal service in place?

  1. Are there sidewalks in the neighborhood?

Is the house in an incorporated area or an unincorporated area? Are existing sidewalks in disrepair? Would you be able to safely play with kids, go for a bike ride, or head out for a run?

  1. Is the house too outdated?

Any existing house will eventually will need some updates, but how much work would need to be done to bring the house to your liking? Do you have the time and financial resources to handle the project yourself, or would you need to hire someone?

  1. Does the house have any weird smells?

Are there noticeable smells like mold or musty odors? Is there a lingering food or smell of cigarette smoke? Significant odors could be expensive to fix or signal even greater issues. [Related: For more, visit our blog, Can scents help you sell your home?]

  1. Does the ground slope away from the house?

Does the house sit at the top of a hill, or the bottom of a cul-de-sac? How does water flow away (or toward) the house? Are the downspouts in good condition? Homes with poor grading can have flooding issues during strong rains or hurricanes.

  1. What do the cars in the neighborhood look like?

Are the cars well-maintained, or are they broken down? Check out the quality of the vehicles, not the brands.

  1. What are the neighbors like?

Do your research. Walk the street, visit the shops and restaurants. Are these the kind of people you’d like to be around?

  1. How much are utilities?

What’s the city water source? Are there trash collection or snow removal services? Estimate how much you’ll be paying for heat, electricity, water since this will impact your monthly budget.


This list is an excerpt from 30 Questions to Ask, compiled at