When you’re buying your first home, your first relationship with a real estate agent can mean either a relatively smooth, easy experience for you… or a complete nightmare. Depending on the information that your real estate agent gives you, it can bring your search time for a home way down. To make sure you’re working with the best agent for your needs, here are the questions every buyer should ask real estate agents for both vetting before and while working together.
Can I see your real estate license?
This seems obvious, but always make sure you’re working with a licensed professional. There are lots of scams running out there in the world!
Do you work with both buyers and sellers?
Many agents work as either buyer specialists or seller specialists. While it’s great to find someone who specializes, an agent who does both could offer some great insights on either side of the process.
Have you helped buyers find homes in these areas?
Your real estate agent should be knowledgeable about the area you’re looking at. Communities differ in terms of what types of homes buyers want, what types of homes sell, and so on. Make sure your agent knows the area where you want to buy.
Can you explain the homebuying process from start to finish?
The process can be long and complicated for first-time homebuyers. Ask your agent to explain the process to you from beginning to end, and take notes, being sure to ask for clarifications you need along the way.
Some good topics to cover are: how do showings go, how do offers work, what happens during a home inspection, what happens after an offer is accepted, what happens during the closing process, what is the timeline from start to finish — and anything else you can think of.
Do you work full-time or part-time as an agent?
Full-time agents are more likely to be able to devote more time to working for you than someone who is pursuing real estate on the side. “The first question I would recommend asking is, ‘Are you a full-time agent or are you a part-time agent?’”
Once you have found a house
What offer would be a good jumping-off point for negotiation?
If you’re in a competitive market, an offer that is too low may not even be looked at by the seller. If you’re in a market where negotiation is possible, you don’t want to make an offer that’s too high and risk overpaying. Experience should enable an agent to give you advice on exactly what to offer for a home and why.
What other concessions should I ask for or make in this offer?
A concession with an offer is a request that the seller pay for something as a compromise to the buyer. Concessions can range from the seller paying to fix something that was caught on the inspection to paying a home warranty for a year. It’s an opportunity for the seller to sweeten the deal and get it closed, and it’s especially common in a buyer’s market.
What are closing costs? How much will they be?
Closing costs are expenses involved in buying a house that don’t include the price of a property; they include attorney fees, lender costs, title fees, and more. Getting a handle on how much potential closing costs will be is important so you don’t end up with a gut punch in the end.
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or moving in to your second or third house, hiring the right agent is crucial. These questions will help you choose the perfect agent and make your homebuying process easy and successful.