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jca's avatar

What are some questions to ask the real estate agent when you go to look at a house that's for sale?

Asked by jca (36043points) September 13th, 2014

What are some good questions to ask?

What questions might I expect the real estate agent to ask me? Should I be evasive in answering any of his questions?

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12 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Check info for the address on zillow.com . It is not always perfect but it is usually close. Print out a copyu so you have it with you and keep it in a folder. (It will hint that you are a serious buyer.)
Then ask about:
Taxes
Heat bills
Insulation in attic
Age and condition of roof
Look at electrical box and see if it is modern breakers.
Look for water in basement. Is the sump pump running often.
What kind of heating system? How old?
Does it have town water or a well.
How are the neighbors?
Why is the other person moving?

There are other things, but those are big ones.

Tell him you will have an engineering inspection if you are interested.
Exciting times. :-)

janbb's avatar

Is there an oil tank in the ground? If there is in New Jersey it has to be removed and the soil tested for contamination and remediated before the house can be closed on.

dina_didi's avatar

You can also talk with some people in the neighborhood to tell you about the people who were in this house and if they know something about the house. You will also find out if your future neighbors will be friendly. If you have a family you should check if there are stores or something you usually need near the house.

zenvelo's avatar

You can ask if there has been a recent inspection, or if that will only be before closing.

Verify the school district, even if you don’t have kids. In my area, equal houses a block away from each other in different school districts can differ in price by $100 – $150 K.

If your conversation with the agent gets more serious, beyond the “I’m looking” stage, the agent will want to know if you already have financing lined up or if that is something you would have to get in order after submitting an offer on the house. That is something you have to tell when you put an offer in anyway, so it’s not disclosing too much.

janbb's avatar

Well, you will definitely want to get a home inspection done before finalizing the sale. Most contracts are written with a home inspection contingency. If a number of problems come up in the home inspection, you can either negotiate that they be fixed or an allowance be given for repairs. Or you can back out completely if the contract is written that way. A home inspection is usually done within a few weeks after the contract is accepted.

LuckyGuy's avatar

When I was looking at a house for a friend I carried one of these house wiring testers in my pocket and plugged it into various sockets as I walked around. It is very easy to use – just plug it in to the outlet you want to test. It tells you if there are obvious problems that might be expensive to fix later. I think I bought it for less than $8 at Lowe’s but that was a while ago. .

LuckyGuy's avatar

I tried to search the Lowe’s site for it but it was a PIA . I’m sure they have it but I don’t have the patience to slog through their poor site.
Home Depot’s site is much better and has it here .

janbb's avatar

@LuckyGuy Don’t you think @jca would be better off just getting a Home Inspector to do that?

kevbo's avatar

One of the better uses of your time together is for you to give your realtor feedback about what aspects of different properties you like and don’t like and must have and must not have. If the realtor is any good, they will get a sense of your preferences and pick properties that are more likely to be a good fit. Your realtor is likely to ask questions to get a sense of your preferences on some of the more common questions such as size, price range, area of town, etc.

Your realtor probably has in mind a certain number of properties or a certain amount of time to show or give you before he or she is going to start steering you toward making a decision. This is because they don’t get paid for their time until you buy something. My mom, who is a bit of a saint, once showed a high maintenance couple more than 90 properties before they made a decision. Your number is likely to be far less.

I wouldn’t be evasive. The realtor wants to be sure there aren’t barriers to closing a sale, and a surprise could delay or cancel a closing.

Another thing to be aware of, although it affects a seller more, is that it’s generally not worth a realtor’s time to go the last mile when haggling about price. On the seller’s side, for example, the realtor is going to be less interested than the owner in holding out for $10,000 more on a house price, because the chunk that they see is only 2.5–3% of that extra $10,000. Better for them to sell the house for $10,000 less, pocket the commission, and move on.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@janbb The home inspector would absolutely do that after you decided to buy the place. This is a quick check to see if you even want to go that far.
With that tester you will quickly see if outlets are connected or are there just for show. You can easily see if they are wired correctly.
It also makes you look like you are prepared and know what’s going on. That can be very important in a negotiation if you decide to make an offer.

CWOTUS's avatar

Before falling in love with the property, ask to see some comps. If you’re not familiar with the term, “comps” are “comparable properties”. They may be comparable in size, condition, location, general construction, geographic area (including school district) or just price. Determine what kind of comp you’re interested in; generally it’s price.

Ask about the school district/s. There may be different districts for elementary, junior high and high school students. The agent should know which school children in this house would expect to attend, if you opt for public schooling. Even if you don’t have kids in school, the school district can carry enormous weight into the value of the property.

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