3 Important questions every Tri-Valley homebuyer should ask- but few do

Warren Oberholser
Warren Oberholser
Published on April 3, 2021

Hi, I’m Warren Oberholser. I’m a realtor in the East Bay Tri-Valley area in Northern California. My goal is to help both buyers and sellers get maximum results for one of their biggest investments, their home.

Falling in love with your dream home can be dangerous

In that moment when you fall in love with a home, it’s almost impossible to let logic rule. Emotions run rampant, resulting in cosmetic aspects winning over financial concerns. I see this all the time in my real estate business.

Please understand I totally get this, especially when you’re tired of looking at home after home, putting in an offer is to be met with rejection. So when you see a property that seems to check off all the boxes, it’s hard not to get excited. But this can be dangerous.

Buyers neglect to ask important questions that can save them time and money

Far too often I see buyers neglect to get important answers to questions that may seem routine, but aren’t. So in this BLOG, I’m going to go over the top three questions I feel buyers should ask before purchasing their home.

How old are the components in the home?

Number one: how old is this item you have concerns about?

If in doubt about the home’s components and the home inspector can’t figure out the age of the unit, then you need to ask the seller if they have any idea how old something is in the house. Your buyer agent will request from the listing agent to ask the seller any specific questions you have.

It is important to know the age of the furnace, hot water heater, roof, etc.

It’s always best to put them in an email to the seller can respond accordingly. This is especially important for appliances such as the hot water heater. According to Lowe’s, the home improvement stores, life expectancy can vary from eight to 20 years. The roof average life span is between 20 and 50, depending on the materials used and the gas furnace, life expectancy is somewhere between 15 and 20 years.

Many of answers can be found in the seller’s disclosures

Now, many of these questions can be answered on the seller’s disclosures (SPQ & TDS) It’s important to know how much life is left in the home’s components so you’re not faced with a large financial outlay when you least expect it. Before I leave this subject, make sure in your purchase contract you have a home warranty. It’s also important to know what the home warranty covers and any limitations it has.

Find out what the monthly utility bills and other expenses are (taxes, etc.)

Number two: What are your average utility bills?

On average Americans spend about $120 a month on electricity. Of course, this varies depending on where you live and the time of the year. As a buyer, when you ask homeowners these questions, you may find their numbers vary quite a bit. This is because there are always ways of mitigating high utility bills. Some homes are constructed more efficiently. Others have lower bills because the homeowners made upgrades and then there are those who seem to be bleeding, electricity because of the cheap construction techniques. You’ll find water, electricity, gas, sewage, garbage, and insurance bills can take a major bite out of your monthly housing budget. So best to get these answers first before you purchase your home.

Find out everything you can about the HOA

Number three: If you’re buying a condo, you have to ask specific questions for the HOA.

A condo can be a great property for a first-time home buyer and investor or somebody who’s downsizing, but there are very specific questions you must ask the HOA.

So starting off, the first question is what are the monthly HOA fees. Now more specific questions to ask are:

  1. How healthy is the community reserve fund?
  2. What percentage of the units are tenant-occupied?
  3. Are there any assessment fees coming up?
  4. Are there any pending lawsuits?
  5. Are there any rental restrictions?

Now reading the rules and regulations will answer many miscellaneous questions such as:

  • For pets, are they allowed or not? And if so, how many?
  • Specifically to dogs, is there a weight limitation and a breed, a type or breed that is not allowed?
  • If you plan to run your business out of your home, you may want to know if this is acceptable and are there any guidelines you must follow?
  • If the community has a pool and a cabana house, you’d want to know what are the hours for use? And if there are any restrictions or rules for noise parties, etc.
A great way to find out information is from the HOA meeting minutes

A great area to find information is the HOA monthly or quarterly or yearly meeting minutes.

One of the areas to zero in on are complaints from the homeowners. If you see a pattern or a repeat of the same complaints, especially from different homeowners, there may be something to this that you’ll want to look into.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Please let me know if you have any questions. Warren


Hello…I work with both buyers and sellers in the Tri-Valley area of Northern California. The Tri-Valley is comprised of 6 cities: Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, Danville, and Alamo. To better understand what each city has to offer, I have created a Pros and Cons video and BLOG for each – (Pros & Cons for Pleasanton, Pros & Cons for Livermore, Pros & Cons for Dublin, Pros & Cons for San Ramon, Pros & Cons for Danville and Pros & Cons for Alamo). If you are thinking about purchasing or selling a home, please reach out to me by text, phone, or email. If it is convenient, I can schedule a Zoom chat so we can discuss your home goals. Wishing you all the best on your home journey. Cheers!

Warren Oberholser

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Warren Oberholser

eXp Realty

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(925) 980-4603

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