So, you're ready to buy? First off: congratulations! Secondly, let's get you set up for success. When diving into the real estate market for the first time, there are a ton of good-to-knows that you might not be privy to until after the fact. If you're working with a real estate agent, there are several questions you'll want to ask them before agreeing to work with them. In addition, there is a whole heap of questions you'll want to ask them after you've hired them to help you buy your new house. Let's explore some of each! We'll kick it off with some vetting questions you should ask before hiring a real estate agent.
Do you have any references I can call?
Whether you're buying or selling a home, it's always good practice to ask your real estate agent for references. Realtors will naturally highlight their good qualities and the benefits of working with them. You need to approach this interaction as if you were hiring them for a job (because you are). Ask for references, and be sure to ask those references questions specific to your needs within this potential relationship. Ask about what they liked and didn't, the realtor's communication styles, if they felt well-supported, etc. People are typically open to talking about their experiences with a professional, especially if they had a notably good or bad experience. Further, contact more than one reference so you can get a fuller picture.
What is your style of working and your current capacity?
Next, you'll want to ask your potential real estate agent about their working style and capacity. Ask if they work full or part-time, how many other clients they are currently working with, and what their realistic availability is like to support you. In addition, ask about their communication style. Do they prefer emails? Calls? Texts? Do they work outside of regular business hours? Do they have upcoming vacations or time conflicts you should know about? These answers will help you understand if you are a compatible match.
How much experience do you have, and how much in this neighbourhood?
While you may get an idea of this through speaking to their references, you'll want to ask about their experience level. Furthermore, you'll want to ask about their experience level with your prospective neighbourhood and housing type. This is an excellent way to understand the knowledge and expertise they're bringing to your unique situation.
What is the market like in this area?
Even if they don't have a ton of neighbourhood or area-specific experience, they should be in tune with the market. Once you've decided to work with your realtor, you'll want to gain an all-encompassing understanding of the area you've got your eyes on and the market forecasts. Your realtor should be able to help paint this picture for you.
Why is the owner selling?
This question is critical. If the seller is moving because they got a job elsewhere, are upsizing, or something like that, you may not have anything to worry about. But, if they're moving because they aren't happy with their investment, there is a high-level problem with the property that's going to cost them down the road; they can't afford their bills or anything like that, you'll want to be made aware. The seller's reasoning will significantly impact your interest in the property, and you'll want to ensure your realtor can get to the bottom of the reason.
How long has the home been on the market?
If a home has been on the market for a long time, that can be a red flag. It could indicate a problem with the house, an unreasonable asking price, or other things that have made the place undesirable to other prospective buyers. If you're looking in a hot market and the property has been listed for ages, you might want to be wary.
Beyond that, you'll also want to ask your real estate agent how often the home has been sold in the past. If the house has been bought and sold several times, it might indicate a deeper problem with the place that doesn't show on the surface or a problem with the surrounding neighbourhood that you would overlook until you moved in.
Like with any big decision, ask a million questions. Before hiring your real estate agent, and once you've got them on board, it's your job to fire off the questions and ensure you're informed and comfortable.