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Dan Chase's Blog

By Dan Chase | Home Buyer in Texas City, TX

Questions I would ask when purchasing any property.

I divide my questions into 2 categories. 1 for the land itself and 2 for the house and buildings.

Some of these questions will be easy to find by looking at sites like www.city-data.com and some are only specific to the property in question. This list is made based on moving to a completely new area unfamiliar to the buyer.

I will start with the land questions first
How long has this property been on the market? What was the original price and how many times has it dropped?

Are there any buried cables, pipes, gas mains or other dig safe issues?

How is this zoned?

What municipal codes apply to this property?
How far away is the nearest fire department?

Is this in a state, county, city/town or private road? Is the road concrete, tarred or dirt?

Is this in a flight path? Can you hear the planes going overhead often?

Is this near a highway?

Is a railroad nearby (1 mile)

Is this close to a cemetery?

Are high tension power wires nearby (1 mile or within visibility)?

Are there cell phone towers (or other high power transmitters) nearby (1 mile)?

(The 6 previous questions reduce desirability, price, and potential resale of a property)

Are there any right of ways or other incumbrance placed on (or for) this property?

What are the total cost of taxes and other costs incurred by the property? Is there any expectation of them increasing (except for inflation) after I purchase the property?

Has this property ever been surveyed? Does the deed state precisely where the boundary lines are in ways easy to find today?

How long has this property been owned by the current owner?

Has there ever been any underground oil or fuel tanks on the property? Have there been any environmental problems on this property?

Is this property (or any part thereof) in a wetland or flood zone? 

Is the property overall flat, gently sloping, or lose a ball and chase it 2 miles before it stops steep?

Is the property basically flat, gently sloping, or steep where the house is?

Is the property known to suffer from drainage problems from rain or snow melt?

Is there now or has there ever been a sinkhole on this property?

Were there ever any mines or tunnels on (under) this property?

How far is the property from town? What is the physical address of the property? (for seeing how far it is from other places) 

What services do the town provide (trash pickup, own police force, fire protection, schools in town etc.)

What kind of industry that might pollute exists in the general area (35 miles around)?

Does the state require car safety and emissions inspections?

What kind of snowfall is to be expected here? Does the snow melt away after a few days or does it stay for weeks or months? 

To get to the property do I have to drive on mountain roads with very steep drops if you went off the road (or had brake trouble)?

How much of the property is wooded, how much is in field or grass? Are there any streams, ponds, or other surface water areas?

What is the population of the town this is located in?

In winter is salt or calcium chloride used on the roads? (do cars rust out from winter roads badly)

Are there any automotive junkyards nearby?

How far away is the closest school?

What kind of churches are nearby?

How far away is the town dump (even if closed years ago)?

Is there any known toxic contamination in the area? Superfund sites, ground water pollution, and so on?

How much does it cost to register a car here. 

How is the drug problem in this area

what kind of gas tax is there

is the infrastructure able to handle the people in the area

What is the homeless problem like in the area

Is there a large gay population that is active in the area

What is the job market like in the area

Are most people around the area more liberal, conservative or radical on which side

Are the roads in good repair, near where the property is are the roads dirt, tarred, or concrete?

How many offers have been made on this property?

When was the latest appraisal done and what did it come in at?

Are there any HOA's or other restrictions that apply to this property such as fixing your car or discharge of firearms?

Are there any second mortgages, are there any liens, is this a short sale or foreclosure

What kinds of weeds are here? Is poison ivy, poison oak, or similar plants on the property?

Are there poisonous snakes or other poisonous creatures known to be on the property?

Does this property have any covenants or restrictions?

Does this property have a soil sulfate problem that can cause the house foundations to crumble?

House questions follow

Has the house been owned by a heavy smoker? Does the house smell of tobacco smoke? (it could require replacing all carpet drapes, and window coverings and and repainting everything else with kilz if it is)

Has the house ever been a meth lab? Has the land had hazardous materials dumped on it? If a house was a meth lab it may be cheaper to tear it down instead of cleaning it up.

How long (roughly) is the driveway to the house?

Does the house ever shake without being in an earthquake? Do big trucks driving past the house cause shaking ?

How old is the septic system? Show me the septic design. Does it have a concrete or steel tank? When was it last serviced? Has there ever been a problem with the septic system? If so when and how was it resolved? Has the problem happened more than once? If so how often does it happen?

How old are the shingles, siding, paint, and has it been remodeled if so when?

What kind of roofing, siding, and foundation does the house have?

Does it have its own well or city water? What kind of well does it have? Is the well known to go dry?

What is the insurance history of the property? Can it get new insurance?

When was the house (and other buildings) built?

What is the cost of electricity the house has used per month and per kilowatt?

Does the house have grounded outlets or the old 2 prong outlets?

Does it have a circuit breaker or a fuse box?

What kind of water heater, heat (and air conditioning) does the house have? How old is it, how many gallons of fuel does it use a year (at what temperature)? If it has a/c is it an r-22 or a r-134a system? What is its efficiency? When was the last service done for all of the house systems?

What kind of insulation does the house have, when was it installed and how was it put in (blown in insulation, fiberglass batting, foam board etc.)?

Has anyone died in this house, Is there any history of the house being haunted? Has there been a history of police being called to this place?

Has there ever been any underground oil or fuel tanks on the property? Have there been any environmental problems on this property?

Is the house known to suffer from drainage problems from rain or snow melt? Has the basement ever gotten wet? If so has the problem been permanently cured?

Does the house have any known or suspected physical defects? If so what are those defects and what is a valid estimate by a licenced contractor to repair those defects?

What materials were used during construction? 2x4, 2x8,(for walls),plywood, boards. concrete block, OSB, Fiberboard etc.. (Refers to quality of construction)

Are the cabinets pressboard? Is any part of the house or anyhting in the house pressboard?
What size is the lot? What are the lot measurements? What are the dimensions of the buildings? Can you send a floor plan of the house (rough measurements is ok 2" more or less)? 

How many steps does it take to get into the house? (3 steps up, 18 steps up etc.) When you get in the house are you on the floor or do you have to take more stairs? Is the house easily adaptable for handicap access?

What percentage of homes in this neighborhood are rental properties

Has the house ever had flood or water damage? If so what kind of damage and what kind of repairs were done?

What was the last sale date and price for the property?
When was the last house inspection done and what were the results?
Does the house have all of the permits required for all construction that has been done to date?

Does the house have or need a COA (Certificate Of Occupancy)?

Has radon been tested for? What were the results? Does it have a radon mitigation system installed?

Is this property being sold by a divorcing couple? (could be trouble with spite issues)
Have all owners signed the listing contract?

(for city people looking at condos, duplexes, and extremely small lots co-ops look below)

How well is the HOA funded, what % of people are paying their HOA dues? Does the HOA have a fund set up for needed future repairs, is so how much, Is there sufficient sounds deadening added so I will not hear the neighbors in my place? What percentage of this building is vacant or rental? Can I change the layout of this place if I wish including paint and decorations? What are the HOA rules?
Does it have any parking space for me, if so how many spaces and are they assigned or hope you get lucky? 

What as a part homeowner can I do if some repairs need to be made and others in the building do not want to pay for fixing the roof or other whole building problems? Is the building completed yet? Does it actually have ALL the amenities built that were promised such as pool and tennis courts?  (country people ignore the above)
I know, this is a long list. It is based on real problems that have come up with real estate. I am sure I missed a few things to look at. Feel free to add to this list. 

If you haven't already looked at my other blog give it a read. It gives a good idea about how to start the process of looking for a home.
“Its your first home and you are looking for something but are not sure where to start to look or about loans.”

One last question that may be helpful would be to ask who did their title search last time. Using the same lawyer or company could save you both time and money as they already have the file completed.


By Dan Chase,  Mon Dec 7 2009, 14:23
You may also want to ask on certain kinds of properties if the land is included under the building. On occasion it is not. The land must be rented.

Any comments are appreciated.
By Dp2,  Tue Dec 8 2009, 12:42
While I'd have many of the same questions, I wouldn't ask the seller for the answers. Most sellers don't know much about the easements, zoning, COO, etc issues. Several of those questions will--or at least should--be addressed via the inspection, appraisal, survey, and/or title reports. One could find the some of the answers also via the county records. For example, the plat map for the property will delineate any boundaries. Besides, I'd want to obtain most of those answers from a neutral third-party anyway to reduce the chance for any bias(es) entering the picture.
By Dan Chase,  Thu Mar 11 2010, 14:25
I am sure a lot of these questions any buyer will have to do a lot of research on their own to find out. If you know what some problems can be you can try to find out as much as possible to minimize your potential problems that come with any property.
By Mmyk72,  Mon Apr 12 2010, 19:25
Most agents (seller's or listing) who I've talked to in Open Houses or otherwise have no clue to 95% of those questions. If they don't just say "I don't know", then they'd say something that sounds like they are making it up. Examples - - -
Me: "Are the recent construction work permitted?" RE:"Oh, I'm sure".
Me: "What is the heating cost?" RE: "It's a couple hundred bucks, depends on consumption, you know".
Me: "Is the house next door a rental property? How many families live there?" RE: "I'm selling this house, not the one next door"

These are real examples. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it. I guess in a market that doesn't move as many houses, the RE agents might try harder. Where I've been looking, houses practically sell themselves, so maybe there's no point in doing their homework for the RE agents.
By Dan Chase,  Sat Apr 17 2010, 13:19
Mmyk, you may be right. That only means you have a lot of work to find out those things for yourself. If you have a starting point of knowing what to look for the results are much easier to obtain.
By Linda Lorenzo - (214) 578-3131,  Sun May 16 2010, 16:26
Dan, I am a Realtor and I have to tell you I don't too many that could have said it better. I love first time buyers and this list of yours will really help me to help them discover what they are looking for. Are you sure you are not a Realtor? : )
By Dan Chase,  Wed May 19 2010, 12:19
Linda, I am sure I am not a realtor. Maybe I should be, who knows.

The one thing not in the list is how far is it to the nearest hospital. That is because my specifications begin with being within a reasonable distance of a V.A. hospital.

This list of mine came about because of problems I encountered or heard about while searching on my own. I wrote this so I would not forget during my own searching. After all, it is one thing to know something and entirely another to remember it before it is to late.
By Scott Godzyk,  Wed May 19 2010, 12:24
I would hire him... Dan always has the great answers and tips for everyone.
By Dan Chase,  Sat Jul 3 2010, 09:32
Thank you for that Scott.
By Scott Godzyk,  Sun Dec 19 2010, 16:43
Welcome back Dan....
By Rita A. Walker,  Sun Oct 30 2011, 14:32
Many of your questions are for the Buyer to research. Some of your questions could be cleared up with environmental testing of the property (a must for land that has been operated as a farm for many years).
Some with a request for a Seller Disclosure of property condition. And others are just illegal (not to mention discriminatory) for any Real Estate Professional to answer.
Be careful not to make the process of buying property or a home too difficult or you will spend your life looking for perfection and never get that dream.
By Don Maclary - Realtor* ABR*,  Sat Feb 18 2012, 13:34
The most important thing to remember about Real Estate questions! The only DUMB ONE is the one you did not ask for fear of looking dumb!
By Jeff Metcalf, REALTOR®,  Wed Jun 27 2012, 19:47
Thanks for sharing~
By PATTYNFRED,  Fri Aug 8 2014, 13:37
Gay people in the neighborhood? WTF
By PATTYNFRED,  Fri Aug 8 2014, 13:40
Dan's a bigot

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