If we bought and sold property in a perfect world, all real estate agents would be perfectly honest, upfront, and transparent. There would be no surprises, no glitches, and no strangely worded contracts that we don’t understand.
Since most of us live in the real world, when it comes to buying and selling real estate we have to be our own advocates. Do not be afraid to ask questions. After all, this decision will affect everything – your finances, your family, your credit. You have the right to be choosy about who you hire to guide you through a process that will result in one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime.
You may want to interview a few agents before making a decision. You want to work with someone you can trust, knowing they have your best interests as their priority. If you have any doubts, keep looking until you are satisfied.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you have references? Skip the list of friends, relatives, and those who would know your potential agent best. Instead, ask for a few names of past clients. Ask about their experience and how satisfied they were.
- How are the schools? What are the crime statistics? Are there any known sex offenders that live nearby? Get to the root of what is most important to you in a surrounding community. Does your family have specific needs in regards to location? This is another area where it would be helpful to ask around; if you are able to make contact with potential neighbors, they can also give you information.
- Are there any upcoming construction projects planned for the area? The last thing you want is to find the perfect place to live, only to find out a few months later that the park across the street is being torn down to make way for a strip mall.
- What realtor board are you a part of? You should only do business with a licensed agent.
- What are your fees? Are they negotiable? Fees can vary, and your agent should be upfront about this issue. You may be able to find lower rates if you shop around.
- What are some of prices of similar nearby homes recently sold? This will give you an idea of what to offer on a home when you are ready to take that step. A comp list can help you find the average for your area.
- Is paperwork available for appliances? Mechanical systems? What are the drawbacks to this home? Transparency with any potential home issues is vital. Homes can appear to be in tiptop shape, but some flaws are easily covered up and not noticeable until further down the road.
Whether you are in the market to find your first home, looking into an investment property, or searching for the perfect getaway vacation spot, you should not go into the process unaware. Talk to others who have experience in purchasing real estate, ask around for recommendations, and do your own research. Take your time and be thorough. Happy house hunting!