In the process of buying your dream home, you’ll probably work with an agent who specializes in real estate. As such, you need to be sure that you’re communicating well and that you understand each other’s roles in the purchase process. To make sure this goes smoothly, keep these six questions to ask your real estate agent when buying a home at the top of your list!
1. What Are Key Features in My Area?
Suppose you’re looking in an area with mild winters. Your agent says they see homes with fireplaces becoming more popular. In that case, you might want to up your search criteria. Also, be sure to ask what feature you can add later if you decide you need it. Location is probably your most important consideration when buying real estate, so don’t overlook it. In addition to location, you should ask about nearby amenities such as grocery stores and restaurants. You can ask these questions:
- Are there services like daycare or libraries?
- Are there parks for children?
- How far away are beaches, hiking trails, or movie theaters?
- Are their local schools of good quality?
Think of everything you want in a home, including outdoor space, and be sure to get answers from your agent on those items.
2. How Can I Save Money on Closing Costs?
Closing costs are real estate fees that come with buying or selling property. Some have estimated that buyers can pay up to 4 percent of their home’s purchase price in closing costs. You might be able to negotiate these fees down with your real estate agent, though, or even get them covered by a seller if they’re desperate enough. Before you buy, you should take several steps to avoid getting into a money pit. This includes running through an inspection checklist and performing general due diligence on comparable homes listed online to make sure yours is priced right.
3. What’s the Average Price per Square Foot?
This number varies greatly depending on what part of town you’re looking in, but it gives you an idea of how much space will cost you. If your agent doesn’t know or can’t find out for you, they might not be worth working with. Many free websites list average home prices by zip code and neighborhood. If you have access to one, give it a try! You can also check out Trulia and Zillow. Both sites include information about home costs, neighborhood characteristics, and tips from homeowners. It’s like having your little team of experts at your fingertips.
4. How much do repairs usually cost?
Whether you’re buying a home in good shape or one that needs some TLC, it’s essential to know how much fixing stuff will cost. After all, home repairs are usually unexpected and can throw off your budget. So if you want to buy a fixer-upper, do your research on potential repair costs before closing escrow. If you’re looking at a preowned home with wear and tear, get an estimate of how much work you might need doing over time—it might help prepare you for future upkeep.
Keep contacts of services that you might need later on if you need repairs and know who can do them. If your home needs some work before it’s livable, get an estimate from the professionals. Water and heating systems are the ones that need repair the most, like furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, and garbage disposals. To give you an idea of the cost, furnace replacements cost an average of $1,300. But if yours is older than ten years, it might be more. There are furnace replacement services that offer affordable yet better furnaces, which is why you should prepare a contract just in case.
5. Will I have to pay HOA fees?
If you’re planning on buying an investment property, be sure to ask your real estate agent whether you will have to pay monthly homeowners’ association (HOA) fees. These fees might look small at first glance, but they add up over time. You can save yourself thousands of dollars by getting information about these fees upfront instead of learning about them too late. Ensure you get specific answers about both current and future HOA fees, so there are no surprises later on.
6. What Neighborhood Characteristics Are Important?
Neighborhoods can make or break your quality of life. Consider which neighborhood characteristics are important to you, whether that is safety, location, amenities, and so on. Suppose you’re buying your first home with children in mind. Proximity to schools might be at the top of your list. Neighborhood features like these can impact resale value as well.
When meeting with your real estate agent, make sure you ask about available statistics on nearby crime rates and school scores. These numbers will help you understand how each neighborhood stacks up against others in overall livability.
Your real estate agent should be familiar with your purchase and have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for. This will help eliminate any miscommunication and keep your home-buying process moving forward smoothly. And if there’s anything else you want to ask about before signing on the dotted line, now’s your chance.