4 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Buy a HomePurchasing a home, especially for the first time, can not only be a daunting and difficult task, it can be one of the most costly choices you make during your lifetime. Not only is the initial investment large, but the choices you make regarding location and condition, not to mention insurance and potential property taxes, can cost you unnecessary money over the life of your mortgage. That is why doing your research and asking important questions before you purchase can really help you save time, money, and stress in the long run. While fixer-uppers can be an interesting challenge, make sure you take the estimated cost of your repairs into consideration when you purchase a home. Even if you have the necessary skills to do all the work yourself, the materials you need to purchase renovations can get a bit expensive. Hidden issues that you find in the midst of renovations can also get costly so make sure to carefully and accurately weigh any potential costs plus a contingency amount to be safe. You may also find a house that doesn’t need any immediate repair but some features may be closing in on its lifespan. Take a close look at things like roofing, windows, heating and cooling, water systems and other parts of the home to estimate how soon you need to pay to repair or update them. Having a property professionally inspected before purchase can often reveal any of these hidden problems. What is the Home’s Sales History? Part of knowing the home is also knowing its sale history. Who owned it before? How many hands has it gone through and why? How old is the home, and what renovations have been done during its history? Does it have a story that might enhance its potential value? Any of this can drastically change what you might be willing to pay. Make sure you check how much the current or previous owners paid for it to gauge what the sellers may expect you to pay. However, keep in mind that the price depends on the current market and what comparable homes are selling for right now as opposed to the past. Do You Understand Your Mortgage and Financial Standing? Understanding the details of any mortgage can be tricky but knowing how yours works is key to saving you money and protecting you legally in the future, should there be any problems. Double check any confusing terms and make sure you fully understand all the terms and agreements on your mortgage. Additionally, much of the quality of your mortgage deal, including the interest rate you get, will depend on the strength of your credit rating and credit score. It’s important to check your report before deciding to purchase a house to dispute any mistakes or make an effort to raise your score. Purchasing a home doesn’t have to be insanely confusing or complicated. To ensure that you have a smooth home-buying process, make sure that you ask the right questions and make an effort to understand any terms you aren’t sure about. This will be your new home – understanding everything about it will make your home living easier in the long run. Maricel Tabalba is a freelance contributor for Credit.com who is interested in writing about personal finance advice for Millennials and college students. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago.