There is no question it’s a seller's market in Bozeman right now. Homes are listed, and within days there are often multiple offers, many going over asking. This can cause a bit of a frenzy for home buyers and hasty offers can be made for fear of missing out on a home. While you do have to act fast when the market is as strong as Bozeman's is, it is important that as a home buyer you are asking the right questions before you submit an offer on a home. Here are the top five questions Bozeman home buyers should ask:
1. What are the HOA Fees, how strictly are they enforced, and what are the benefits
Knowing if there is a homeowner association and what the fees are is a big factor when it comes to buying a home. It may not matter if it is a subdivision with a small HOA fee, however, some HOA's can get expensive and these fees could be a big shock to buyers if they were unaware before closing. Find out what the HOA fees will be and how often you will be charged. Be sure to ask what the HOA fees include. Is there a neighborhood park and trails they maintain? Do they handle snow removal and neighbor complaints? How strictly are rules enforced such as architecture and landscaping requirements? What is the current HOA reserve? All of these things can vary greatly from one subdivision to the next and will certainly affect you as a homeowner.
2. Past repairs and upgrades
Often if there have been upgrades to the home you will know about it. Upgrades like hardwood or tile flooring and wood trim are the type of things the seller will mention when listing their home. However, if past home repairs have been made they may not mention it. It’s helpful to find out how the home has been repaired and how long ago the repairs were made. Knowing what past problems the home may have had and how the repairs have been handled are important pieces of information if you are moving forward with a home purchase. This is a good time to also ask how old certain big-ticket items are, such as the roof, windows, plumbing, electrical, etc. Then you will have an idea of how long you have before some big investments may need to be made in the home.
3. What’s the neighborhood like
Even if you are familiar with Bozeman, you may not know what specific neighborhoods are like. The best person to ask is the person who lives there! If you can find out directly from the seller, or have your agent ask for some information on what it is like to live in that neighborhood this can be invaluable to you as a buyer. Find out the perks of the neighborhood…nice parks, close to good schools, on the city bus route. Consider things that are important to you in a neighborhood and be sure to ask the seller about it.
4. What are homes in the area selling for, and how long are they staying on the market
Montana is a non-disclosure state, meaning home sale prices are not public record. However, you can ask your agent for a general idea of what homes are going for in a certain area. They can also tell you how long homes are staying on the market which gives you some insight as to how fast you need to act. This information helps with the negotiation process and gives an idea of how flexible the sellers might be.
5. What are the extra costs
If the home is new construction find out if landscaping and fencing will be included. Are window treatments and all appliances included in the sale of the home or will you have to buy these things after you move in? Finding out property taxes and utility costs are important questions as well. This will give you an idea of what your monthly budget will be beyond your mortgage payment.