In the stormy sea that buying a new home can feel like, a good real estate agent is a lighthouse — especially to a first-time homebuyer. The buyer’s agent is there to guide you through the process and ensure you’re getting exactly what you’re looking for.
But you’re still steering the ship — and you need to have some idea of what to look out for as you navigate toward your dream home. (Plus, you want to make sure that lighthouse is reliable, and stationed right where you think it is.)
So if you’re getting ready to purchase a home, there are a few important questions you’ll want to ask your real estate agent throughout the home buying process. Here are a few not to skip.
Can I see your references?
Like any other service provider, not all real estate agents and realtors are created equally. And given how big of an investment a house is — for many of us, the single largest purchase we’ll ever make — you definitely want to make sure the agent you choose is on your side.
So don’t be afraid to ask your real estate agent for references before you get seriously involved in going to showings together. You may also be able to find honest customer reviews online. Is this a full-time home sales professional or someone squeezing in your business on the side? How easy are they to get in touch with?
Even better: ask around for a recommendation from trusted friends who’ve been through the journey themselves. It’s all too easy to simply get stuck with whoever Zillow assigns you, and you want to be more discerning than that when it comes to such an expensive and intensive purchase.
What’s happening with the local real estate market right now?
Once you’ve found a real estate agent or REALTOR you trust, you can start asking the nitty gritty questions that will help you sail straight into your dream home. Top of the list: getting the lay of the local market. Are home values increasing or decreasing? How high is the demand (and thus, how competitive for buyers)? Which neighborhoods are established, and which are still up-and-coming? Your REALTOR should be able to provide a comparative market analysis — also known as a CMA or comps (recent comparable sales) — to help get you a better lay of the land.
Chances are you’ll have plenty of opinions of your own regarding where you want to look for a house, and what you’re looking for, but it’s your real estate agent’s job to help narrow the playing field and guide you in the right direction. Learning more about where you can get the most home for your buck can help you find hidden gems you might have missed on your own.
And then, once you’ve found a few homes you like…
Is this house worth my time?
Real estate agents work on commissions, so it’s definitely in their best interest for you to purchase a house. That said, one that’s really, truly on your side should also be able to point out red flags that might not be obvious to you as a layperson and that the home sellers or seller’s agent are likely to keep as quiet as possible: hidden mold, ancient HVAC systems, and roofs that will soon need replacing.
Ask your REALTOR for their opinion of the specific house(s) you’ve got your eye on as well as a general what-to-look-for while shopping around. Obviously, your agent won’t have the same kind of insight or expertise as an actual home inspector, but learning a little bit can help save you a lot of time, and potentially money. (Keep in mind that a home’s asking price and your down payment are just the beginning: you’ll also be on the hook for closing costs, property taxes, homeowners insurance, renovations and potentially homeowners association fees. You definitely don’t want to shell out for a dud!)
Do you suggest a specific lender (or inspector)?
While you can generally use whichever auxiliary professionals you wish while buying a home, your real estate agent may have good suggestions for reliable inspectors, or mortgage lenders. Often, a real estate agent will work with certain professionals on a regular basis, which can help keep the whole process smooth and easy (as well as putting qualified people in front of you without requiring too much footwork on your part).
Looking for a home loan? Quontic Bank offers a wide range of mortgage products, from government-backed FHA and VA loans to conventional loans and more. As one of only 3% of U.S. banks with a CFID certification, we also offer Community Development Loans, or CDLs, which are specifically designed for non-traditional borrowers, including those with irregular income, like self-employed people and small business owners.
We’re happy to answer any questions we can — because you’ll ask far more than these along the way to homeownership! Contact one of our mortgage specialists today.
Quontic Bank is not affiliated with or acting on behalf of or at the direction of Federal Housing Authority (FHA) or any government agency or government sponsored entity. All lending products are subject to approval. Rates, program terms & conditions are subject to change without notice. Not all products are available in all states or for all amounts. This does not represent an offer to enter into a loan agreement. Other requirements, restrictions & limitations apply. Information is accurate as of December 30, 2021 & is subject to change without notice.