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You wouldn’t buy a car from someone without asking a few questions, so you definitely shouldn’t purchase a home without some either.

Even if the answers make you question if you want to buy the house at all, they will give a clearer picture of what your clients are getting into before you have to find out for themselves.

Information that these questions can give you can translate directly into time, money and effort saved. It’s like G.I. Joe says—knowing is half the battle.

1. How Much Are Monthly Utility Costs?

Just as the old expression goes, “Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes… and monthly utility costs.” Okay, so the last part isn’t really in the adage, but it is true regardless. There are still going to be monthly utility costs that your clients will have to pay and it will be a good idea to find out sooner than later what the damage is going to be.

Make sure that you’re getting an average cost and not just the lowest bill they received during a spring when they didn’t have to heat or cool the house and were always outside. This gives you an opportunity to think about energy efficient measures that can be taken and implemented once the house is sold.

2. Did the Previous Owners Make Renovate Anything?

In many houses, and especially old houses, it’s very likely that the previous owners updated the entire kitchen, added a den, or prepared the attic to be a bedroom. If they did, your clients will to want to know that—and in a perfect world would see some receipts from the contractors to get an understanding of how much these upgrades cost.

This will give you a rough idea of how much the previous owners have put into the house, and more importantly, how much they hope to get out. As the potential homebuyer, your clients don’t have to directly reciprocate that number as most additions never see full returns anyways.

3. Have Any Pipes Ever Busted?

Busted and broken pipes happen and can cause all kinds of water damage to your walls, flooring and even ceilings if the damage happens on a second story. This water damage can cost thousands in repair and is responsible for a large chunk (22 percent) of all homeowner’s insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute. If there has been busted pipes, you can rest assured that the previous owner would likely relay that information to you, and gladly. However, the main drawback of a home with previous pipe damage is the lingering effect moisture has on the inner workings of a home, which will often lead to mold and mildew.

Remember, that you don’t want to ask the homeowner any of these questions yourself. Any agent worth their salt is going to be using a real estate CRM with an IDX website, that is going to be able to answer any questions buyers have during the process. They will have the proper tech for managing the relationships between seller and buyer and can relay the answers to clients’ questions immediately.

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