Five Questions You Might Not Think to Ask the Previous Owners

Buying a home is exciting, sure, but it’s also a stressful and nerve-wracking time in one’s life.

There’s a lot to consider, mountains of paperwork and the fear that you’ll buy a house that’s falling apart from the inside.

Rest assured, though–your realtor and house inspector will take care of any concern that your house might be full of mold.

Instead, you should be focused on the less catastrophic details, and try to ask questions about things that could end up being major annoyances down the road.

Here are five questions that you might not think to ask the previous owners (or, rather, their realtor) amidst the overwhelming home-buying process, but that could save you some trouble later on.

1. Are there any pets buried in the back yard?

This might not seem like a big deal until you go to dig out a garden and learn the hard way that your previous owner was a rehabilitated cat lady. You don’t want to find Fluffy’s body in buried right underneath where you were hoping to grow some cucumbers.

2. How Much Are Your Utilities Monthly?

While you can’t necessarily count on the previous homeowners to be honest, it could still help you get a good idea of what you’re likely to be paying.

At the end of the day, anyone selling a home that you actually want to buy isn’t going to have much reason to lie to you. If they tell you “$50 a month for water, heat, and electricity even in the dead of winter!” you’re probably being lied to, and you should consider if something else is wrong with the home.

3. How Does the Property Fare in Heavy Rain?

The last thing you want is to move in and then experience a huge storm the first week and learn that your front yard turns into a lake. Even worse, you might go into your basement and see that you’ve got a new indoor pool.

The previous owners can either set off some big flags, or at the very least prepare you should you choose to get the house anyway.

4. Have you made any additions to the house yourself?

Some people pride themselves as DIYers. Some of those people even have the skills to do it.

Unfortunately, you might think your new house looks nice until you get down to the nitty gritty on moving day and see that the custom trim all along the walls was glued on with Elmer’s glue.

That nice deck in the back? It’s held together with some crooked nails and sheer force of will.

You’ll want to know going in whether you’ll be replacing all of the nice features of your home with the help of a professional contractor.

5. Do You Use a Dehumidifier in the Basement?

Remember how I said you don’t need to worry about your house falling apart as long as there’s a good inspector on your side?

That’s true, but there still might be mold in your house if the previous owners didn’t use a dehumidifier in their basement during humid weather.

Mold is sneaky, and can creep up in places inspectors won’t look, such as behind the bookcase that’s been sitting against the wall for ten years, underneath that trim the previous owners adhered to the wall with Elmer’s glue and even in exposed insulation, if it gets wet enough.


You can’t account for everything when buying a home, and you’re undoubtedly going to discover a few surprises when you move in. But, it can really help your frustration level if you’re not dealing with cat corpses or flooded driveways. In comparison, a couple of poorly hung doors or a broken cabinet aren’t so bad.

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