10 Essential Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home

A house’s price tag is only a part of the equation. Other factors, often overlooked, play a decisive role in ensuring that the home you buy aligns with your life goals and financial health.

This article aims to guide you through the maze of home buying, highlighting ten essential questions that deserve your attention. Being informed can mean the difference between securing your ideal home and facing buyer’s remorse.

Couple standing in front of a sold sign for a house they bought.

What to Know Before Buying a Home

The decision to buy a home isn’t one to be taken lightly. Here’s what you should be aware of:

Understanding the Edmonton Real Estate Market

Before diving into the specifics of a property, familiarize yourself with the Edmonton real estate market. There are numerous factors that affect the real estate market, such as economic trends, interest rates, and local developments.

The Role of a Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent can be your ally in this journey. They can provide insights into different neighborhoods, help in negotiations, and offer guidance on the more intricate aspects of the buying process.

Picking the right agent, one who understands your needs and is well-versed in the local market can make the difference between a smooth purchase and a tumultuous one.

Real estate agent holding drawings with happy couple in the background

Evaluating Your Financial Health

Before looking at listings, understand your financial standing. This includes assessing your monthly budget, savings, credit score, and any outstanding debts.

Your financial health will dictate your borrowing capacity and influence the range of houses you can realistically consider.

Preparation for Ongoing Costs

While the upfront cost of a home is evident, many first-time homebuyers overlook the ongoing costs. Property taxes, utility costs, maintenance, and potential homeowner association fees can add up. It’s crucial to factor these into your budget to avoid financial strain later on.

Home Inspections

Don’t judge a house solely by its aesthetics. Underlying issues like faulty wiring, plumbing problems, or foundational weaknesses can lead to expensive repairs.

It’s always advisable to invest in a home inspection before deciding to seal the deal.

Understanding these foundational aspects ensures that you’re not just buying a house, but you’re making an informed investment. Up next, let’s look into the specific questions you should ask to make the best decision for your future.

Home inspector checking out a house for sale


Location is often touted as the most crucial factor when purchasing a home. A house might be perfect in every other way, but if it’s situated in an unsuitable location, its appeal can diminish rapidly. Here’s what you need to consider:

How Convenient is the Neighborhood for Daily Needs? 

The immediate neighborhood of a house can significantly influence your daily life. Think about your routine: Where do you work? Where do your children go to school? How close are amenities like grocery stores, parks, and hospitals?

Understanding the accessibility and convenience of these can help in narrowing down areas that align with your lifestyle.

What is the Crime Rate?

Safety should also be a top priority. Use online resources to research the crime statistics of neighborhoods you’re considering. Some websites provide detailed breakdowns, from minor thefts to more serious offenses.

It’s also beneficial to speak to potential neighbors or local law enforcement to get a firsthand account of the area’s safety.

Are there Natural Disasters or Environmental Concerns?

Every region has its environmental considerations. In some areas, it’s the risk of earthquakes. In others, it might be floods or tornadoes.

Investigate if the house lies in a flood zone or near fault lines. Knowing these risks not only prepares you for potential future events but also helps in understanding insurance needs and costs.

Neighborhood location


Purchasing a home is not only a decision of the heart but also of the wallet. Finances act as the bedrock of any home-buying process.

Without the proper foundation in financial understanding, you might find yourself struggling in the latter stages of buying a home, regardless of how perfect it may seem.

Hence, before you even start perusing real estate listings or contacting a real estate agent, ensure you have clear answers to the following financial questions:

How Do I Calculate Monthly Mortgage Payments?

Monthly payments encompass more than just repaying the loan amount. Interest rates, the duration of the loan, property taxes, and sometimes even homeowner’s insurance play a part.

  • Tools: Numerous online calculators can give you an estimate of your monthly payments. However, always ensure you consult with mortgage lenders or brokers for a more precise figure.
  • Factors affecting payments: Principal loan amount, interest rate, loan term, and additional costs like property taxes or homeowners’ insurance can influence the monthly amount.
Couple reviewing options with a mortgage broker

What Are the Potential Closing Costs?

Closing costs can sometimes catch first-time homebuyers off guard. These are fees and expenses you pay to finalize your mortgage, and they can significantly affect your housing budget.

  • Typical costs: Some of the common closing costs include appraisal fees, loan origination fees, attorney fees, inspection fees, and property taxes.

Do I need Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is typically required by lenders when homebuyers don’t put down a certain percentage of the home’s purchase price, commonly 20%.

  • Relevance of PMI: PMI protects the lender if you default on your loan. While it’s an added cost, it allows buyers to purchase homes without saving up a significant down payment. It’s essential to understand when you might need PMI and factor that into your monthly costs.

How Much Can I Truly Afford to Spend on A Home?

The answer isn’t always the maximum loan amount you qualify for. It’s vital to consider your other expenses and financial goals.

  • Wants vs. Needs: List out features you desire in a home versus what you genuinely need. This helps in prioritizing and allocating funds appropriately.
  • Setting a realistic budget: Factor in ongoing costs like utility bills, maintenance, property taxes, and potential homeowner association fees. Ensure that these don’t stretch your monthly budget too thin.
Household budget sheet

Home Features and Quality of Life Amenities

When imagining your dream home, the picture often goes beyond the structure. The interiors, the amenities, and the conveniences close by play a role in making a house truly a home. These are not just bonuses but crucial factors in ensuring a comfortable living experience.

What Major Appliances Are Included in the Purchase Price? 

The appliances in a home can significantly affect its overall value and comfort. Knowing what’s included and what’s not can help you gauge the deal you’re getting. 

  • Evaluating the value: It’s not just about what appliances are included but their age and condition. Brand-new or well-maintained appliances can save you from unexpected replacement costs in the near future.
  • Potential replacement costs: Even if appliances are included, always keep a rough estimate of their replacement cost. It can help in future budgeting, especially if they’re nearing the end of their lifespan.

What Are the Estimated Monthly Expenses for Utilities and Taxes?

Mortgage payments are just one piece of the financial puzzle of homeownership.

  • Factoring in additional monthly costs: Beyond your monthly mortgage payments, utility bills like water, electricity, heating, and internet can add up. Moreover, annual property taxes, divided over twelve months, will also play into your recurring expenses. 

Are There Any Community Amenities or Facilities?

The immediate environment around your home can significantly enhance your quality of life.

  • Checking for amenities: Some housing developments offer facilities like swimming pools, gyms, parks, or even community centers. These not only provide recreational options but also contribute to a sense of community.
  • Associated fees: While amenities are appealing, they might come with additional costs. Homeowners’ associations may charge.
Property taxes


By now, it’s clear that purchasing a home is more than just an emotional choiceit’s a financial and logistical one, too. From understanding the nuances of the location to evaluating the monthly budgetary implications, each question plays a role in ensuring your new home aligns seamlessly with your life’s goals and daily needs.

For anyone on the cusp of making this decision, remember: there’s no need to rush. The housing markets, with all their ebb and flow, will always present opportunities. But to find that perfect blend of the right home at the right price in the right location requires patience, diligence, and clarity of thought.

As you walk this path, remember to lean on trusted advisors, be it friends, family, or real estate professionals, to gain insights and make an informed, confident choice.

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