When buying a home, there’s no reason to view the seller as your adversary. It’s true that they want to get the best price for their home, but most sellers also want the buyer to be comfortable with their decision—and for that reason, they may clue you in to information that no one else can provide. In fact, even if you don’t meet with the seller, their agent may be willing to relay to them some of the following helpful and astute questions.
1. Where Goes the Neighborhood?
You’ve already researched the neighborhood, and chances are you’ve had different answers from everyone you’ve asked. But the seller can provide unique insights not just into their part of the city, but their block, the next block, and the rest of the small world in which your new home exists.
This can be a fun question—the seller is the person who knows where to order Chinese take-out, the fastest way from A to B, and where to shop for essentials. But they can also let you in on some of the mistakes they made when they first joined the neighborhood, helping you to nimbly avoid repeating them as you make the same adjustment.
2. Why Leave?
Don’t expect brutal honesty here. For some sellers, there’s a simple reason—a new job in another city, a chance to be closer to the grandkids, and so on. But for many, the reasons are complex. The important thing to know is that you’re not searching for a reason not to buy. Instead, you’re looking for some leverage—if you can better understand the seller’s reasons for saying goodbye, you may learn whether they’re hurrying or taking their time, and whether that affects their willingness to negotiate.
3. Are You Taking That with You?
While viewing the home, you may have been taken by a particular appliance, item of furniture, or “piece de resistance” that ties the place together. In most cases, the big stuff will stay, including major appliances. But if you’ve got your eye on any furniture, decorations, or other interior pieces, you’ll want to relay that interest to the seller as soon as possible. Either you’ll get a good deal, saving yourself the hassle of tracking down a living room rug, or you’ll spare yourself the disappointment of pining after a table that the seller has no intention of leaving behind.
4. What Will You Miss the Most?
If you have the chance to communicate directly with the seller, don’t be afraid to get a bit sentimental. After all, you may be here for decades—there’s no reason to miss out on what could be your last chance to learn the tricks of the property. Sellers can disclose the way the light hits a certain room, the helpfulness of particular neighbors, or the best way to handle a pesky problem. Whatever they’ve got to tell you, this is your chance to listen.