Here are TOD’s Top questions to ask you Realtor:
- ‘Would you buy this house?’
This question may be the ultimate litmus test of whether you should purchase a home. If your agent would have reservations about buying the house for himself, that’s a waving red flag.
- ‘What is the sales history of this house, and how would it affect my offer?’
Before making an offer on a house, ask your agent for the property’s sales history. Was it previously an expired listing? Was it leased? Was it ever a bank-owned property or other type of distressed home? These factors could suggest a home has been a struggle to sell—which could mean you could snap up this home at a bargain-basement price.
- ‘What contingencies do you think are worth getting—and skipping?'
Some contracts have contingencies built in that enable the buyer or seller to walk away from the deal without penalty. And contingencies are often included for 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 real estate agent for guidance. For instance, you might be OK waiving a home inspection contingency if the home is newly constructed, whereas it's more essential with an older home that might need extensive repairs.
- ‘Are there any upcoming condo or homeowner’s association assessments?’
When you purchase a condominium or a home within a homeowners association, you’ll receive the HOA's financial documents, which outline important information such as reserve funds and CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions).
These condo docs and disclosures can be hundreds of pages long—which could overwhelm home buyers, who could forget to check if there are any upcoming assessments. Assessments are periodic one-time payments made to the HOA above and beyond the monthly fee, usually to cover capital improvements or repairs. Since they will affect your monthly housing expenses, you'll want to know whether they could go up anytime soon—and your agent is adept at navigating these documents to pinpoint the answer.
- ‘What's happening in this neighborhood, and how will that affect home prices?'
Good real estate agents hear everything about what's happening in the communities where they do business. And although federal fair housing laws prohibit real estate agents from commenting on a neighborhood’s demographics, your agent can still give you advice on whether you’re making a solid investment based on local housing market trends and economic factors that affect home values.
- ‘Can you recommend a home inspector/handyman/real estate attorney in the area?'
Local expertise matters not only with the real estate agent you hire, but also the other professionals you could meet while negotiating this real estate deal.