Real estate is one of the most important purchases you will ever make, so you should do your best to be as informed as possible. It doesn’t matter whether you are on the verge of buying your first home or your fiftieth investment property; you need to work with an agent you can trust and gather excessive amounts of intel about the properties you like.
Unfortunately, most real estate buyers aren’t diligent enough during the buying process, and they end up woefully uneducated on their property and the surrounding area (at best) or scammed out of much of their savings (at worst). If you want to buy real estate right, here are the questions you should start asking your agent today:
What Natural Disasters Affect This Property?
If you are new to an area, you might not know that a particular neighborhood is in a floodplain, is at risk of tornadoes or hurricanes or feels the tremors of earthquakes. Often, you will need to take special steps to safeguard these properties from the natural disasters that might impact them. For instance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance and similar protections aren’t often included in homeowner’s policies of afflicted regions. Thus, you need to know what disasters you could face sooner rather than later, and your real estate agent should have all that information for you.
How Will This Property Perform on Resale?
No one can predict the future – not even real estate agents. But your agent should still be able to tell you what the housing market is like the in area you are interested in, so you can have some idea regarding the likely return on your investment. Likely, your agent will advise you to perform some key renovations to make your home more attractive to future buyers, and having this information now will help you make a more informed decision about your investment.
Does This Property Come With a Warranty?
Because property costs so much, any home purchase is a major risk. Sellers of older homes hope to reduce that risk and increase the allure of their offerings by throwing in a year (or more) of home warranty. Unlike insurance, home warranties cover various systems around your home in the event they break down due to regular wear and tear. Seeing a home warranty attached to a property is a good sign that the sellers have faith in the quality of their home. Properties that don’t have seller warranties might be protected by a home warranty for realtors, so you should ask your agent about both options.
Do You Have Any References I Can Speak With?
Earning a real estate license isn’t easy – but it isn’t exactly rocket science, either. To avoid working with an inexperienced, unknowledgeable and otherwise useless real estate agent, you should try to get in touch with some of their previous clients. References will be able to tell you what working with the agent was really like and whether they would consider using the agent again for a future home purchase. If the agent refuses to give you the contact information of previous clients, you should look on review websites like Angie’s List or Yelp for more info about your agent.
What Do You Know About the Sellers?
When you finally fall in love with a property, you should try to learn as much about the sellers as you can. Who are they? How well did they maintain the home? Why are they selling? Does that motivate them to make a deal faster? Your real estate agent should be able to communicate with the seller’s agent to gain this intel and help you use it to make better decisions regarding negotiations.
Can You Give Me Quotes on How Much This Will Cost to Fix?
Your agent should be able to point you toward useful contacts during the contract period, like home inspectors, but they should also be generally knowledgeable about home ownership, especially in the area you are considering moving into. Specifically, they should be able to provide somewhat accurate quotes about regular fixes in a home. Even if they can’t furnish this information on the fly, they should be able to get back to you with quotes within a couple days.
Your real estate agent works for you, which means you should have the same expectations of them as you would any employee. They should be experienced, skilled and eager – and they should have all the information you need to make informed decisions and act fast. Asking these questions will help you determine if the properties you are considering are worthwhile and whether your agent is worth their wage.