Buying a house is a complex process, especially for anyone purchasing their first home. In addition to finding a home that fits within your budget, it’s essential that you’re fully prepared to begin the home buying journey. While you may have all the elements of your dream home in mind, there are other important factors to consider before purchasing a new property.

Important Questions for Home Buyers

The best way to find a home that you’ll fall in love with is to start by asking the right questions. The following are five essential questions every home buyer should ask before closing on a property:

1. What’s my budget?

Before starting the hunt for a new house, it is essential to finalize your housing budget. As this budget dictates how much you can afford to spend on a house, taking your time to calculate your budget is crucial. With a budget in mind, you’ll know how much money you can borrow for your mortgage, allowing you to pinpoint which houses are in your range.

Experts explain that buyers should avoid mortgages that exceed 25% of one’s monthly earnings. Remember, in addition to your mortgage payments, your housing budget should also include everything from property taxes and private mortgage insurance to homeowners association dues and homeowners insurance.

2. Is the home furnished?

While many homebuyers successfully create a housing budget, they often fail to consider details like the cost of furnishing their home. One of the best ways to save on this added cost is to purchase an already-furnished home. Asking whether or not a property is furnished will allow you to adjust your budget accordingly.

If a home is already furnished, it’s a good idea to ask about the age of the appliances. Even if a house is new, will cause you unnecessary trouble early on if it’s furnished with older appliances.

3. What’s included in the purchase?

Just as it’s important to ask whether or not your home is furnished, you’ll need to learn exactly what’s included in your purchase. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the furniture used to stage the home is included once you buy the house. Everything from window treatments to lighting fixtures is all fair game for homeowners that are selling their house. Get a detailed list of everything included with your purchase to make sure that you and the seller are on the same page.

4. Can I live in this neighborhood?

In addition to learning about the furnishings in a home, it’s also helpful to ask your buyer’s agent questions about the neighborhood. Make sure to find a good agent in the area you are moving to. For instance, if you are moving to Lehigh, PA then you would want to find a good Lehigh Valley buyer’s agent. Moving into a dream house in the wrong neighborhood will eventually take a toll on your quality of life. Be sure to ask your buyer’s agent about the areas surrounding the homes you’re considering. Ideally, your next property will be close to entertainment, schools, shopping plazas, and other recreational facilities that allow you to live the lifestyle you’re accustomed to.

As you learn more about the neighborhood, make it a point to discuss crime statistics. Do some research of your own to learn about the safety of each neighborhood by reading local crime reports and visiting the area at different times during the day to get a better idea of what to expect.

5. Why is the owner selling?

Though you may feel as though you’re in luck when you stumble on a great home at an affordable price, there may be more behind this sale than the price tag. While most homeowners sell because they are moving for innocuous reasons, this isn’t always the case. In some situations, an owner may try to sell their house because there are serious problems with the property.

Do your best to learn the owner’s reason for leaving. Uncovering the true story behind why they want to sell will give you a better understanding of the property and may even help you negotiate a better deal. For example, if a homeowner needs to sell the house as soon as possible, you may be able to get a lower price if you offer to close immediately.

Ask the right questions to make sure your next home buying experience goes as smoothly as possible. Keep this information in mind as you begin the process of purchasing a house.