Want to buy your first house? Congrats! Great news! It’s a common scenario that often unfolds like this: You’re thrilled about finally owning your own home. You conduct thorough research, browsing the internet for houses, mortgages, and even new furniture.
However, when it’s time to search for a house, you feel completely overwhelmed. You have no clue how to select the perfect house for yourself. Eventually, you settle for a house just to conclude the lengthy, challenging, and sometimes intricate process.
But here’s the good news! You don’t have to navigate the house-hunting journey alone. With the assistance of a knowledgeable local Realtor, buying your first home can be an enjoyable experience.
By asking the right questions, you can leverage your real estate agent’s expertise and find your dream home with less stress. So, what are these right questions? Keep reading to discover the top 15 questions that every first-time home buyer should ask a Realtor.
What Questions You Should Ask Realtor Before Looking at a House?
To streamline your options and ensure preparedness when you discover your dream home, inquire about these questions with your Realtor before embarking on house viewings.
1. What location should You choose?
Selecting a neighborhood may appear simple, but it can actually be complex, confusing, overwhelming, and stressful. However, with the right knowledge, it’s possible to effortlessly choose the ideal location. Take into account the following factors, among others, to aid your decision-making process:
Consider these factors when choosing a neighborhood:
- Work commute (avoiding long commutes)
- Quality of school districts (important for current or future children)
- Proximity to bars, restaurants, and local shops (convenience for satisfying cravings)
- Noise from roads or neighbors (ensuring peaceful nights)
- Access to public transit (cost-effective and eco-friendly transportation)
Finding a location that fulfils all your requirements can be challenging, but your real estate agent possesses extensive knowledge about your area. They can guide you towards neighbourhoods that encompass most of the items on your wish list.
Without their assistance, you might overlook a fantastic neighbourhood that you were unaware of or didn’t initially consider.
2. What should I look for when touring houses?
As a first-time home buyer, it’s natural to be drawn to visually appealing features such as stainless steel appliances, trendy paint colors (like classic blue), and high-end flooring. However, solely focusing on these aspects may cause you to overlook significant issues and potentially end up with a problematic home that could turn into a nightmare.
Your Realtor can assist you in identifying issues that are challenging or costly to rectify. Problems like water damage, sagging ceilings, or insect damage can be expensive to repair. By prioritizing the right problems during your house tours, you can prevent future headaches and avoid additional issues in the long run.
3. What concessions and contingencies should be included in the contract?
Before beginning your house hunting journey, it’s beneficial to have a clear understanding of what you want to include in a contract. As the buyer, you have the flexibility to incorporate concessions and contingencies into the contract. Let’s explore the meaning of each term:
Concessions in a contract refer to clauses that require the seller to provide financial assistance. A typical concession is requesting the seller to cover some or all of the closing costs.
Contingencies are contract clauses that provide you with the option to withdraw from the contract after it’s signed. Typical contingencies include the house passing inspection and your ability to qualify for a mortgage.
Consulting your realtor about the concessions and contingencies to include is recommended. Having too many contingencies can potentially deter sellers, which may result in missing out on the perfect home.
At Ribbon, we eliminate home-sale and financing contingencies, making your offer more appealing to sellers. Additionally, we offer the possibility of closing in as little as 14 business days.
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4. Are you familiar with any reputable inspectors, appraisers, or lenders?
When purchasing your first home, you’ll depend on a range of professionals to navigate the process successfully. From securing a mortgage loan to conducting a home inspection and appraisal, it’s crucial to have reliable experts by your side. Your real estate agent can be an invaluable resource for connecting you with trustworthy professionals, ensuring a seamless experience at every stage of the home buying process.
5. What expenses should I anticipate after purchasing a home?
Buying a home can be a significant financial commitment. After saving for a down payment, you might assume that your home-buying expenses are over. However, that is not the case.
In addition to the down payment, you will need to cover closing costs, moving expenses, and potentially purchase new appliances or furniture. On top of your mortgage payments, there are other ongoing expenses such as property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and possibly mortgage insurance and HOA fees.
While this may appear daunting, proper financial planning and discussing these post-purchase costs with your Realtor can help you prepare and avoid unexpected financial burdens. By being aware of the expected expenses, you can fully enjoy your new home without being caught off guard by additional costs.
What Questions Should You Ask After Finding a Home?
After collaborating with your trusted Realtor, you have identified a house that you are interested in making an offer on. Congratulations! By posing these questions, you can ensure that you have selected the right home for your needs.
6. Are there any issues or concerns you see with this house?
When you have strong affection for a house, it’s easy to overlook significant issues such as insufficient office space or extensive water damage. To ensure that the house is truly as wonderful as you perceive it to be, seeking the opinion of your Realtor is advisable.
Having experienced countless houses, your real estate agent is knowledgeable about common home problems. They can identify any potential red flags that may have escaped your attention.
While it may be disappointing to discover that your dream house has underlying problems, asking your Realtor this question can save you from future headaches and complications.
7. Interested in purchasing this house?
It’s important to inquire about your Realtor’s perspective on the house. If they wouldn’t consider purchasing it themselves, it could indicate potential issues and warrant a reconsideration of your decision.
Don’t hesitate to ask your real estate agent for specific reasons behind their hesitation, as it could be related to personal preferences or more significant concerns regarding quality, location, or resale value. If the latter is the case, it’s advisable to think carefully before proceeding with the purchase.
8. Why is the house for sale?
Understanding the reason behind the sale of a house can be advantageous in avoiding potential issues and gaining an advantage in negotiations.
Homeowners have various motives for selling their homes. It could be due to financial difficulties in maintaining the property, in which case, ensuring affordability becomes crucial.
Alternatively, a seller might be relocating for employment reasons. If they require a quick sale to facilitate their move, it can provide you with leverage during negotiations. You can potentially offer a lower price to secure a favourable deal or include more concessions/contingencies in the contract.
By inquiring about the seller’s motivations through your Realtor, you can improve your negotiation position and increase your chances of successfully acquiring your dream home.
9. What’s the sales history of this property?
In addition to understanding the reason for selling, having knowledge about the property’s sales history is crucial for making an informed purchase. Your real estate agent, equipped with extensive property expertise, is the ideal resource to provide this information.
If the house has consistently sold quickly in the past, it indicates the need for a strong and swift offer. In such cases, Ribbon can assist by enhancing your offer to an all-cash one, streamlining the process.
On the other hand, if the property has a history of being bank-owned, lingering on the market, or having an expired listing, it suggests challenges in selling. This presents an opportunity to potentially negotiate a favorable deal. Consult your agent to devise the best approach when dealing with such situations.
10. Is the pricing of this house reasonable and fair?
Avoiding overpaying for a house is a common concern for buyers. Consulting with your realtor about recent sales prices of comparable properties in the neighborhood can help ensure that you make a fair purchase.
Assessing the value of a house is best done by comparing it to similar properties. If a house has additional upgrades, such as granite countertops or stainless-steel appliances, it may be worth more than surrounding homes. In such cases, paying slightly above the price of other houses can be justifiable.
However, it’s important to exercise caution when encountering a house priced significantly higher than others in the area, especially if it lacks comparable upgrades, extra space, or other premium features. This should raise a red flag, and in such cases, it would be wise not to pay the listed price.
11. Can you provide insights on the current and projected resale value trends in this neighborhood?
Considering that buying a house is one of the most significant investments you’ll make, it’s crucial to ensure that your home will appreciate in value over time. Seeking your Realtor’s perspective on the neighborhood’s current and future prospects can assist you in making a wise investment decision.
Ideally, you seek a house situated in an area with a track record of steady property value appreciation. This ensures the possibility of selling your home for a higher price than your initial purchase.
However, even in neighborhoods with a strong historical performance, there’s a possibility of an upcoming decline. Factors such as changing demographics, new construction in proximity, or other events can impact the future value of your home. If there are indications that a house is likely to depreciate in value soon, it’s advisable to consider other options.
12. What should I offer to get this house?
Once you have addressed the aforementioned inquiries and determined the house to be a favorable choice, it’s time to proceed with making an offer. Your real estate agent, being well-versed in the market dynamics, can guide you in determining the appropriate offer to secure the property.
In a buyer’s market, it is possible to offer below the listed price while still maintaining a strong chance of securing the house.
Conversely, in a seller’s market, it becomes necessary to offer at or above the asking price. If bidding wars are common, it might be prudent to consider offering slightly above the listed price, as long as it aligns with your budget.
13. Should I consider offering earnest money in my offer?
Should I consider offering earnest money in my offer? Earnest money, a deposit provided to the seller, is not always mandatory but can enhance your chances of securing a desired house.
In a seller’s market, including earnest money can make your offer more appealing and demonstrate your commitment to purchasing the property. Conversely, in a buyer’s market, offering earnest money may be unnecessary, providing upfront cost savings.
Your Realtor is knowledgeable about the local housing market and can advise you on whether offering earnest money is customary or advantageous in your specific situation. This ensures that you can present the strongest offer possible while minimizing unnecessary upfront expenses.
It’s worth noting that when making an offer through Ribbon, a minimum earnest money deposit (EMD) of 1% is required. However, this amount is credited back to you as Seller Paid Closing Costs when you repurchase the home from Ribbon.
14. What are the closing costs?
Closing costs typically range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price, amounting to several thousand dollars.
To obtain a more accurate estimate of the specific closing costs, it is advisable to consult your lender. Additionally, your real estate agent can provide insights into whether it is customary to request sellers to cover some or all of the closing costs.
Although closing costs can represent a significant financial outlay, discussing them with your real estate agent ensures that you are well-informed and prepared for these expenses.
15. What is the estimated annual cost of maintaining this home?
Unlike renting, owning a home entails taking on the responsibility of addressing any necessary repairs. Whether it involves fixing appliances, HVAC systems, or a leaky roof, the onus is on you to handle maintenance issues that may arise.
To be adequately prepared for unforeseen maintenance expenses, it would be prudent to ask your Realtor for an approximate estimate of yearly maintenance costs. This way, you can have a better understanding of what to expect and be financially prepared in the event of any maintenance needs.
Wrapping It Up
Purchasing your first home is an exciting milestone. However, it can also feel overwhelming, which is why we provide complimentary 30-minute calls with our team of Ribbon experts.
As a first-time homebuyer, you may be unfamiliar with potential pitfalls to watch out for or the specific requirements you have in a house. Additionally, understanding the true cost of homeownership can be essential.
By asking your Realtor these 15 questions, you can simplify the home buying process and make informed decisions. This helps you avoid unexpected problems and potential financial challenges in the future, allowing you to fully enjoy your first home.
When you find your dream home, consider enhancing your offer with Ribbon’s all-cash option. This empowers you to compete with more experienced buyers, increasing your likelihood of securing the ideal house for your needs.