You’ve decided it is time to take the leap and buy a home, so it is time to start your search. The home buying process can be a bit daunting, but relying on the expertise and market knowledge of your professional real estate agent can go a long way towards making it less stressful. Here is our list of top 10 questions to ask your realtor when buying a new home.
1. How long has this house been on the market?
Generally speaking, the longer the home has been on the market, the harder it is to sell. That’s because potential buyers might be wondering what’s wrong with the home, even if there’s nothing wrong at all. In addition to helping you decide if this is the home for you, it can also give you insight into how much to offer, or if there’s a sense of urgency when it comes to making your decision on a home.
2. What is the sales history of this house, and how could it affect your offer?
Along with knowing how long the home has been on the market, it is helpful to know its sales history. Was it previously listed, but removed from the market? Was it leased? Was it ever a bank-owned property? If so, this could suggest that it has been a struggle to sell the property in the past. This isn’t necessarily a reason not to buy the home and could mean that you are able to get it at a bargain-basement price.
3. What is happening in this neighborhood, and how will that affect home prices and resale values?
The truth is that a good real estate agent will know about everything that is happening in the local market. Although federal fair housing laws prohibit real estate agents from commenting on the demographics of a neighborhood, your agent can still give you advice on whether you’re making a solid investment, based on local housing market trends, comparable home prices in the neighborhood, and community development projects that could affect home values.
4. Is this house priced fairly?
Speaking of comparable home prices in the neighborhood, they are very helpful in helping to determine what is a fair price for a home. No one wants to overpay for anything — much less a house. Asking your realtor what neighborhood comps are selling for can help you avoid paying too much. The best way to determine a house’s value is to look at similar ones. A house with more upgrades — like granite counters or stainless-steel appliances — could be worth more than surrounding houses. In that case, paying slightly above other houses could be fair.
5. What expenses should you expect after buying a home?
Buying a home is expensive, and unfortunately, it’s not just when it comes to saving for the down payment. Along with your down payment, you have to pay closing costs, moving expenses, and even purchase new appliances or furniture. In addition to your mortgage, you’ll need to pay property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, possibly mortgage insurance, HOA fees, and the list can go on. Your real estate agent can help you understand what your expenses will look like so you can be prepared.
6. Would you buy this house?
The real question to ask your real estate agent is simple enough. This question may be the ultimate litmus test of whether you should continue with a home-buying experience. If your agent has any reservations about this hypothetical, that’s a waving red flag. If you get the sense your agent isn’t as enthusiastic about the home as you are, ask why. It could be because of the neighborhood, the home itself, or something to do with the seller or the home’s history.
7. What contingencies are worth getting—and skipping?
Now that you have decided to put an offer on the house, you want it to be attractive to the seller while still protecting yourself in the transaction. A contingency clause can be attached to an offer to purchase real estate, giving the parties the right to back out of the contract under certain circumstances that must be negotiated between the buyer and seller. Common contingencies are often included for a buyer getting approved for a mortgage, a home inspection, and an appraisal. But note that having too many contingencies tends to turn off sellers, so make sure to strike the right balance by asking your agent for guidance as you negotiate.
8. Can you recommend a lender, title agency, home inspector, etc. in the area?
Local expertise matters not only with the real estate agent you hire but also with the other professionals you could meet as you negotiate this real estate deal. The home buying and selling process is a complex financial transaction that requires the involvement of a variety of professionals. It is important to identify quality partners that you can rely on and your real estate agent should be a good resource for those individuals.
9. What should I expect at closing?
Closing has a lot of moving parts, so it’s a smart idea to be on top of what you need to be responsible for. Asking your realtor for a breakdown of what to expect can be helpful to keep your transaction on track and make it a little less stressful.
10. What are some possible obstacles to closing?
Even with the best of intentions, challenges happen. It could be that you need additional documentation to finalize your mortgage, or negotiations after the home inspection take longer than expected. Asking your real estate agent about obstacles that could arise may help you feel more prepared — and give you time to come up with contingency plans just in case.
Buying a home can be a long but exciting process, so once the paperwork is complete and the keys are handed over, be sure to celebrate! Contact Ohio Real Title today to help you prepare to close on your new home.