5 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent Before You Buy a Home

When you want to buy a home for the first time, you may feel overwhelmed with everything you have to remember. You can’t forget to file for pre-approval. You need to add open houses and meetings with loan agencies to your calendar. And you have to save all the important contact numbers to your phone.

In addition to these important things, you shouldn’t forget to ask your real estate agent the following questions. The answers will help you decide whether that cozy condo or luxurious town-home is the best choice.

1. How Long Has It Been Listed?
Some statistics estimate that the average house sits on the market for nearly 10.3 months before it sells. Of course, in areas where housing remains in high demand, that number could drastically drop to as few as 10 to 21 days.

If the house has stayed on the market for much longer than that, the seller may feel more desperate to reach an agreement, giving you more wiggle room to lower the price.

But before you start to haggle, keep in mind that the longer a home sits, the less care it may receive. If no one has lived in the home for over 2 years, it may fall into disrepair. Rodents may wreak havoc on the electrical, or a leaky pipe may have finally burst. The house may also have serious structural problems that other buyers don’t want to deal with.

2. Is the Seller Flexible?
Your real estate agent will have to closely work with the seller, so he or she will likely know why the seller wants to list the home.

The seller may have a new job opportunity and needs to relocate immediately, so he may be more flexible on the sales price. Or the seller might not want to move at all, and she wants to hold out for the best possible market price.

Although your agent doesn’t have to disclose this information, he or she could hint at whether you could negotiate for a lower price.

3. What Should I Know About the Neighborhood?
When you buy a home, you invest more than money on a piece of property. You should also expect to invest your time socializing with your neighbors or taking your kids to school. Consequently, you want to rest assured that the neighborhood will fit your family just as well as the house does. Take the time to learn all you can about the families that live nearby and the amenities the town offers.

You should also ask your agent about other foreclosures in the area. If multiple families plan to move from the area at the same, it could indicate that they don’t feel safe living there or that the job market doesn’t present enough opportunities to sustain them.

4. Can I See a Record of Monthly Utilities?
Most first-time home buyers fail to anticipate the hidden costs of owning a home. In addition to the sales price, you’ll have to account for closing costs, inspections, and repairs. Furthermore, you’ll need to budget for utilities and HOA expenses for the area.

Your agent will give you a realistic number for all of these costs so you have a clear understanding about whether you can afford your new home.

5. When Can I Move In?
If you’ve asked all the other questions on this list, you’ll take one step closer to acquiring your dream home. However, you shouldn’t forget to ask about the move-in date. Some sellers may need extra time to pack up and transfer jobs before you can take over the property. Your agent should be able to estimate this date by the time you close or put money in your escrow account.

Once you have a date, you can then pass that information onto your moving crew.

Remember: your real estate agent will want to help you find a house you love. So feel free to ask more questions in addition to these five to ensure you feel completely confident in your decision.

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