5 Questions Your Real Estate Agent Should Help You Answer

5 Questions Your Real Estate Agent Should Help You Answer

5 Questions Your Real Estate Agent Should Help You Answer

Buying a house is a life-changing investment, and a trusted real estate agent goes a long way toward making that investment successful. But if you’re like many first-time homebuyers, you may not fully realize the wealth of knowledge an agent can give you. 

Previously, we explained what a real estate agent does (and you can learn more in our Homebuyer Education course). In this blog, we’re going to explain the kinds of questions your agent should be able to answer for you. But our best advice is this: If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask. Your agent may not be able to answer, but you won’t hurt anything by asking.

1. What Can You Tell Me About This Area?

A real estate agent is legally limited in what they can say about a neighborhood. Questions about the quality of local schools, crime rates, and local demographics are off limits for agents. Otherwise, they could be accused of discriminatory or segregationist practices. However, they can still give you other valuable information about the neighborhood. 

They can tell you what school district a house is in so you can research it. They can give you a list of houses of worship in the area. They can show you the local parks. They can tell you if the house is in a homeowners association (HOA) and help you access the association rules. 

Your agent should also have a thorough knowledge of the local housing market and how it’s grown (or shrunk) over the years. They can tell you about upcoming development work that might increase home values or decrease them.

2. What Should I Know About This Home?

As you tour homes, your agent will be able to drill down on specifics. They will have information on any improvements made, any unique amenities the house includes, and general information on the home's size, age, and value. They can tell you how often this house has been sold and if it’s had any pending offers before yours.

A good real estate agent can also help you look for clues about the house’s condition. Signs of termite activity, water damage, sagging ceilings, or cracks in the foundation are all things a keen agent can help you spot. Ask your agent if they see any red flags.

3. Who Are Good, Trusted Lenders in the Area?

Becoming a homeowner means you will need to find a trusted lender. These can range from big banks to local credit unions. After your down payment on the house, the lender will pay for the rest of the home, and you will pay them back monthly until the loan is paid off. If you borrow from a small lender, they will likely sell your loan to a third-party lender. However, small lenders can be great for giving you personalized guidance on the front end.

Your real estate agent has likely worked with a number of lenders and can point you to those who will treat you fairly. As you do your own research, they can likely give you further insights into the lenders you consider. Ask them about lenders who offer a variety of loan types and will guide you through the mortgage process.

4. What Inspectors and Contractors Do You Recommend?

A home inspection is always a good idea after your offer is accepted. A home inspector visits the property and looks into every nook and cranny of the house. They’ll inspect the crawl space, the attic, any visible wiring issues, the foundation, and much more. Then, they write a detailed report on the condition of the home you’re looking to purchase. 

If you don’t want any big surprises, it is imperative that you choose a good inspector. Experienced real estate agents know which inspectors are up for the task and which ones tend to miss things. They can also guide you on next steps after you receive the inspection report.

Most house inspections will bring to light parts of the house that need repair. The seller may pay for some of these, but it’s likely you’ll need to pay for some repairs yourself. Ask your agent if they know of quality contractors within your budget. It’s likely they know some trusted names to give you.

5. What Would Be a Good Offer to Make on this House?

Knowing what to offer on a home can feel dizzying! Your real estate agent will be able to guide you through what a realistic offer should include. 

Your agent will know what similar houses in the area have sold for and the volume of recently sold in the area. They can find out the home's previous purchase price, time on the market, and how many other offers have already been made. They can also give you guidance on special clauses that can give you a leg up, such as escalation clauses.

These insights will help you and your agent craft a competitive offer or know that a house is out of your league.

Dive Deeper with the Homebuyer Education Course

While this list is not comprehensive, we hope it’s a good launching point for conversations with your real estate agent! If you want more tips to guide you through the process, check out our Homebuyer Education course. And remember, it is better to ask and know than be surprised later! 

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