Buying a home is an exciting yet overwhelming process. Such a big investment can’t be done so haphazardly. After all, you’re going to be living there for hopefully years to come. There will be many questions to ask a realtor or homeowner when searching for a new home, but here’s five you should have on your list. 

1. What home inspections should be considered?

Part of the purchasing process is allowing a home inspection before closing. A general home inspector looks for signs of damage to the home and can refer the buyer to specialists if a problem is flagged and needs further inspection. Examples include chimney inspections, pool and spa, electrical, septic system, foundation, and mold, among others. You can always do your research beforehand to build a list of potential inspectors you’d like to contact in case an issue arises.

2. What is the neighborhood’s noise level?

Are you half a mile from a busy train track? Or maybe you don’t mind hearing upwards of three whistles in the middle of the night. Is the neighborhood demographics mostly young families or an older generation? How heavy is the traffic in the neighborhood? If you’re looking for a quiet place to settle down, knowing the noise level of the neighborhood can help you make an important decision.

3. What are the home’s zoning guidelines?

Zoning violations can be costly, so it’s always beneficial to know the home’s zoning guidelines before purchasing. Knowing the limitations to fencing, structural changes, and even the use guidelines of the home could save you thousands of dollars if you are looking to make any adaptations to the property. Always ask if there were any structural changes done by the previous owner. This should be disclosed with proper permits and approval otherwise, it will end up being your headache (and heartache to your wallet). Even if the previous owner made the change, you bear the consequences if it is discovered after you purchase the property.

4. Has there ever been a busted pipe or water damage?

Water damage is most devastating to a home when you can’t see it, like behind drywall and trim, where mold can build up. There can be many causes of water damage to a home, but one of the most common is burst pipes. It’s easy to think about when the weather is frosty outside, but it’s important to consider once the temperatures warm up. When looking at a home, make sure any exposed pipes in unheated areas are properly insulated. Also, if appliances are staying with the home, check the washing machine hose to make sure it is in good condition. 

5. Has the home ever been tested for radon? 

It’s not exactly fun to think of radioactive gas seeping into a property during your home buying search, but it’s a vital one. Where does radon come from? It’s formed from the natural decay of uranium in soil and rock that can flow through cracks and other openings in your home’s foundation. Without proper ventilation, radon can reach dangerous levels and is a leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Since it is an odorless gas, a homeowner can’t identify radon levels in their home without having it professionally tested

Whether you are looking to upgrade your home to make room for your growing family, downsize into a quieter neighborhood, or moving to a new location for work, having a prepared list of questions to ask during your home search will save you a lot of time and frustration. And don’t forget to research homeowner’s insurance!