21 Questions to Ask a REALTOR When Buying Your First Home
Buying your first home can be a difficult process - especially if you don't ask the right questions ahead of time. According to Kimberly Palmer, key contributor to U.S. News & World Report, a critical mistake first-time buyers make is overlooking hidden costs that could have been revealed prior to making a purchase decision. Determining these and other critical factors can have a huge impact on your ability to find the right property for your needs.
When it comes to purchasing your first home, buyers need to remember that their realtor is there to help ease the process and should take advantage of each opportunity to learn from them. Similar to a lawyer or any other consultant, a realtor is your advocate and counsel for the duration of the home buying life cycle, from the home search to close of escrow.
At a minimum, these are some of the most common questions to ask a realtor when buying your first home:
1) Is the listing price in line with market value?
2) What is a fair offer on the property based on recent comparables?
3) How long has the property been on the market?
4) How motivated is the seller?
5) What price did the seller pay for the home?
6) What is the age and condition of the property?
7) How many people have owned the property?
8) What items are included in the sale (e.g. appliances, window coverings, etc.)?
9) What are the annual taxes?
10) Is there a monthly or quarterly HOA?
11) Is the current owner up-to-date on payments?
12) How quickly can the property close?
13) Has all work on the house been completed with permit and to code?
14) What schools is the property zoned for?
15) Is there much crime in the neighborhood?
16) What type of utilities does the home require (e.g. oil, gas, septic, etc.)?
17) Who do you recommend to perform the home inspection, and why?
18) Which title company do you recommend, and why?
19) What is your relationship with the listing agent?
20) Do I need to be pre-qualified to write an offer?
And most importantly:
21) Is there anything you need to tell me that I haven't already asked?
Although a list of 21 questions may seem like overkill, when it comes to buying your first home, you can never be too informed. Realtors are people too and, regardless of how celebrated or highly recommended they are, they can forget to mention important details as easily as any other. As the buyer, it is your responsibility to ask the right questions and be as knowledgeable about the home as possible.
At the end of the day, you want to be comfortable that you made the best decision to purchase your new home. Your understanding of the property and transaction will greatly determine your confidence and satisfaction level with your decision - so don't hesitate to fire away with the questions (and be sure to take notes)!