Buying a single-family home (as opposed to a condo or townhome) is an attractive option for many buyers. With a single-family home, you'll enjoy having your own yard and probably a bit more space too. As you begin touring homes with your real estate agent, however, there are a few things you'll want to find out that may not be included on a home's listing sheet.
Is There an HOA?
Some homes may be located inside of developments or subdivisions that are governed by a homeowners association (HOA). An HOA typically handles things like maintaining common areas and creating/enforcing by-laws within the neighborhood itself. Living in a neighborhood with an HOA can be beneficial in a number of ways, especially when you consider that HOAs typically preserve property values. However, HOAs also charge dues, which can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your annual home expenses.
How Old are the Roof and Siding?
When you own a single-family home, you're responsible not just for everything on the inside of the home, but the outside as well. This includes the roofing and siding, which can be costly to replace. For this reason, it's a good idea to ask your real estate agent to find out how old the roofing and siding are. You can generally expect these items to last around 15-20 years before needing to be replaced, so knowing how old they are can help you get a better idea of when they may be due for replacement.
Is the Home in a Flood Zone?
Another thing that will probably not be advertised on a home's listing is that it is located in a known flood plain. While this doesn't have to be a huge issue (especially if major flooding hasn't occurred anytime recently), this will mean that you'll be required by your mortgage company to carry flood coverage. This, in turn, can cost you a little extra on your insurance premiums, so it's better to know before you make an offer.
Is the Price Competitive?
Last but not least, before you even step foot inside a home, ask your agent for a breakdown on the price-per-square-foot and his or her professional opinion on whether the home is fairly priced. If you know going in that a home is underpriced, for example, you may be able to overlook a few imperfections that you may have otherwise considered dealbreakers.