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6 Crucial Questions to Ask Your Agent (and Yourself) Before Buying a Home

Weve already explored the six critical questions to ask an agent before selling your home, but what about the process from a buyers perspective? Purchasing a home is a major life event, which is why its so important to do your own research as well as consult with an agent before making any big decisions. Carefully considering these six questions and discussing the answers with an agent is the ideal way to kick off your home buying journey. 

1. Whats My Budget?

Mortgage pre-qualification and pre-approval will help you establish a budget before you even start searching for homes but when you do start looking, dont put all your focus on a homes list price. Make sure youve considered whether or not you can comfortably afford the monthly mortgage payments, and confirm that youve set aside enough money to cover the down payment and closing costs (usually about 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price). Its also important to ask yourself how long you plan to live in this home. If youre going to leverage the rising prices of homes in your area, you might be able to stretch your budget for a few years. But, if youre opting for the typical 30-year mortgage period, the math has to add up from the start. 

2. How Do I Spot a Good Deal?

Once youve started house hunting and compiled a shortlist of properties, ask yourself which factors you value over others and, when you view a listing as a good deal, which of those factors is present. Better still, ask an experienced real estate agent with local market knowledge who has the industry tools to compare your shortlist of properties with other homes on the market. Some benchmarks to measure against are the prices of similar properties in the same neighborhood; the number of days on the market; and the potential resale value in five, 10 or more years. Bear in mind that youre going to experience an emotional response, whereas your agent will have a more rational, objective perspective. Let the numbers speak for themselves. 

questions to ask your agent

3. What Is My Dream House, Anyway?

You may be looking for the perfect family sanctuary, or you might simply be jumping on an investment opportunity. Dont start your search until you have a well-defined end goal. Its easy to be seduced by a beautifully staged home with curb appeal one that just feels right as soon as you walk through the door. But, many buyers discover an altogether different picture during the appraisal stage, once the mortgage application has been submitted. 

A professional appraiser hired by the mortgage lender will examine the essential structure, foundations, etc., and alert the lender to any red flags that could cause the loan to be withdrawn. Once the home has been appraised, its important to ask yourself how much youre willing  and able  to spend on upgrades and repairs, as well as factor in any codes or restrictions that could affect those plans. A useful benchmark is the 85 percent rule: If youre happy with 85 percent of the home as-is  and can change 10 percent of it over time, and live with the other five percent  you should be on the right track. 

4. Is This the Right Neighborhood?

Remember: Youre buying a home, but youre living in a neighborhood. For many buyers, its the local schools, access to transportation, stores and restaurants, as well as proximity to friends and family, that dictate their early search criteria. Ask yourself what youre looking for in your local area, and be honest about whether the house alone can compensate for a neighborhood that doesnt meet all your criteria or vice versa.

There are plenty of tools you can use including public records to dig deep into the profile of your neighborhood, from tax rates and HOA regulations to crime reports and median salaries. While these facts and figures give you a solid overview of the area, your agent can offer insight on this specific neighborhood that only comes from industry expertise. Such insight includes market trends, meaning your agent can help you spot up-and-coming neighborhoods that are likely to go up in price over the next few years.  

5. Am I Ready to Move?

Take the time to ask yourself and your family whether youre emotionally and financially ready to move. Whether youre considering a cross-country move or just looking at other neighborhoods in your current city, this is a decision that should not be taken lightly. On one hand, there are moving expenses and the cost of temporary storage, haulage and possibly having a current home vacant for several months. On the other hand, there is the emotional challenge of moving to a new place, making new friends and potentially adapting to new schools. Your agent is a great resource when it comes to preparing for the moving process and understanding what it entails. 

6. Does My Agent Feel Like a Partner?

Buying a home is not only one of the most significant financial decisions of your life, but also can be one of the most mentally taxing even if its not your first rodeo, as they say. Unless youre completely comfortable navigating paperwork, financial requirements and contract negotiations, there is a compelling argument for drawing on the skills of a professional. Using an agent allows you the freedom to focus on all the to-do list items that inevitably come with moving while your agent handles the nitty-gritty. To make sure youre entering into a solid agent-client partnership, check out our list of questions all homebuyers should ask their agent

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