Should A Home Buyer Speak Directly To The Seller?

Should A Home Buyer Speak Directly To The Seller?

 Purchasing A Home

Purchasing a home can be an emotional and stressful time not only for the buyer, but the seller as well.

This is one reason why Real Estate brokers advise against direct communication between the buyer and seller. Conversations filled with emotion can easily make a deal fall through. Realtors can certainly get answers to all your questions, but this will take time and answers may not come quickly enough for the buyer.

Buying a home is typically the largest single investment an individual will make. Both parties are adults and if the seller is willing, a buyer has every right to speak directly to the seller to obtain information about the home in order to make an informed decision.

A buyer can get listing material from their realtor, such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage of the home, and a home inspection will identify defects in the home; A casual conversation between the buyer and seller can provide immediate answers to questions not readily available to the listing agent or the home inspector.

For example, who would know better than the seller about the neighborhood, monthly costs and repairs they have made to their home.  Buyers can ask questions in a non-threatening manner such as – Are there any neighborhood problems I should be aware of?

Here Are A Few Things To Consider:

  1. Neighborhood Nuisances
    Barking Dogs Can Be a Neighborhood Nuisance
  •  Annoyances that would be a problem for you, may not be a problem for the seller; therefore, the seller most likely, will not mention them. While you may not get a detailed answer, it’s a good idea to at least ask the seller about traffic noise, barking dogs, neighbors who cause disturbances and any other problems that you consider important. [Buyers can also visit the local police department to research crime statistics for the neighborhood.]  
  1. Monthly Costs
  • What are your monthly utility costs? How much do you pay in property taxes? Is there a homeowner association fee? What do you like most about your house?  What would you change if you decided to stay?
  1. Resale Value
  • Are there any commercial businesses close by? The resale value of a home is greatly affected by property surrounding it. Businesses near the home such as an auto repair shop or other industrial property can lower the value of the homes around them? You would be wise to take a drive around the neighborhood and see for yourself.
  1. Condition of the Home
  • First and most important, you need to have a general or residential inspection performed on the home by a Professional Certified Home Inspector. A Home Inspector does a visual inspection of the home, but cannot tell you what is going on inside the walls.

There may be problems with the house that the seller knows about but is not required by law to disclose. It can be helpful for the buyer to speak with the seller face-to-face. Here are some questions worth asking the seller:

  • What major repairs have been made to the home and were they repaired by a professional or by the seller?
  • How old is the roof?
  • Does the home have insulation in the walls and attic?
  • Have any large appliances or systems such as electrical or plumbing, been replaced and, if so, when?

If you are buying a historic house, does it have an unusual history? Did a death or major crime occur in the home? Does the home have a history of being haunted or paranormally stigmatized?

Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, MA

A few people might be fascinated by the prospect of buying a haunted house, but real estate marketers don’t yet consider ghostly activity to be as big a crowd-pleaser as, say, granite countertops or a remodeled master bathroom.

While real estate brokers advise against a buyer speaking directly with the seller, the buyer has every right to do so if the seller is willing. The exception would be if the buyer signed a contract not to contact the seller.

The bottom line is that the buyer has the right to obtain as much information about the home as possible, and use all resources available for that purpose.