Questions to Ask your Agent Before Buying
Buying a home can be an overwhelming task. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when viewing what could potentially be a dream come true, and completely forget to ask the agent vitally important questions that may play a key role in final decision making.
Utilising the services of a reputable estate agent is beneficial in numerous ways, but most notably; their in-depth knowledge of the property and surrounding area is at your disposal. Equipped with the right questions, you’re better positioned to make informed decisions before signing on the dotted line.
Address these three important issues at your first viewing to avoid any nasty surprises.
Price - Is the price right?
Request that the agent give you a comparative market analysis. An experienced estate agent should provide accurate and up-to-date information on comparative sales in the area and have a thorough knowledge of local market trends (i.e. the selling price of similar properties in the area and how long they remained on the market before being sold).
This is often a good indication of whether the property you’re viewing is priced correctly, and will give you a general idea of the current market activity. If sellers are getting their asking price and how quickly will give some indication as to how negotiable they are.
Properties that sit for too long often suggest that either the asking price is too high or that the market is slow. If there are many other homes for sale, find out how long they’ve been listed on the market and why the owners are selling. There are many reasons for an area sales boom but certain causes could affect the property’s investment potential or the occupant’s living conditions.
For example, approved plans to build an office park next to the complex you’re looking to buy in could mean months of construction right outside your front door – homeowners in the area may be looking to sell before the construction begins to secure a better offer. Another example is an upsurge in crime in the area – safety is a priority that few compromise on!
Bear in mind that sellers want to sell for the highest possible price, whereas you, as the buyer, want to buy for the lowest possible price. Ask the agent how flexible the seller is on the asking price. This is often dependant on the length of time that the property has been listed for and the number of offers on the table. A strong offer would be needed to beat the competition if multiple offers are being considered.
Condition - Are any repairs needed?
Sellers are required by law to disclose any known faults or issues with the property, but addressing these issues first-hand could save valuable time and energy for all parties involved. This is especially true if lengthily and costly repairs to the home are an immediate deal-breaker for the buyer.
If repairs are needed, stipulate the repair terms beforehand (will the seller agree to fix the problems before transfer or will that be left up to the buyer) and how that will affect the asking price.
In older properties, find out if the plumbing and electrical systems have been serviced or replaced since installation, and if not, whether they may have to be replaced soon. Although the general condition of the property is one of the first features noticed, many aspirant homebuyers forget to ask this essential question. Have the agent point out what they like about the home, as well as any concerns they may have regarding the condition.
Distinctive features are often accidentally skipped over on the first viewing as there is just too much to take in. Having the agent give their view will add a unique perspective to the home-viewing and decision-making process.
Does the location meet my requirements? It’s been said that the three most important things about real estate are location, location, location. This could not be more true. Majority of hopeful homebuyers will pick the area before the property. Safety, proximity to amenities and public transport routes, local community and the general condition of the neighbourhood all have a direct effect on the value of the home, and ultimately on your pocket.
Do your homework, and then clarify any concerns you may have with the agent. Once again, ask the agent for their opinion on the neighbourhood and surrounding amenities, as there may be something you missed.
Ask your agent the right questions and address these common issues upfront to avoid costly surprises.