Whatever you do, don’t go in blind.
Buying a home is a rite of passage. However, it can be a nerve-wracking one filled with doubts, second guessing, and uncertainty. To help ease the process for nervous buyers or even veteran ones well-versed in the ins and outs of the market, the experts—a.k.a. the folks at Realtor.com—came up with a list of six questions you should always ask your realtor before you buy a house:
Flip the script
If you are having doubts about whether or not a home is a good deal, a good fit, or a good investment, remember that turnabout is fair play. Ask your realtor one question, “Would you buy this house?” If your realtor hesitates in delivering an enthusiastic, “Yes!” ask why. These simple questions can give a nervous buyer a much-needed outside perspective that can ease concerns or raise important red flags.
Get the details
According to the pros at Realtor.com, it’s important to ask about a home’s sales history, as it may affect the overall offer. Ask about the details of a homes past, find out whether the home was previously leased, ever foreclosed on, or was owned by the bank. If the home was hard to sell, it may be at a below-market price and a good investment.
Have back-up plans in writing
If you’re worried about getting cold feet, make sure the real estate contract has contingency plans built in. Home buying involves a lot of contracts and without special wording, it may be impossible—or very expensive—for parties to walk away. If you’re unsure or the home has a few red flags, ask your realtor to make sure that the contract includes contingencies so you can walk away without penalty. Realtor.com does include a word of caution, though: Too many contingencies can scare off sellers who don’t want to risk having their buyer leave.
Find out what’s going on in the building
If you’re buying a condo or an apartment, you will want to ask about the building, the residents, and the building associations. Realtor.com suggests asking your agent about upcoming assessments that may cost you money, over the monthly building fees.
Get facts about the neighborhood
Want to know if a Central Market is opening nearby? Or if the housing prices are rising or falling? Or a new park is opening nearby? Your agent should know, so ask away. While agents can’t comment on every aspect of a neighborhood’s demographics, due to federal fair housing laws, they can advise you about whether you’re making a good investment.
WATCH: “White-Boxing” Is the Hot New Real Estate Strategy for Selling Your Home
Think about next steps
If you are planning on buying the house, think about what you will need to seal the deal. Your real estate agent may be able to help you find a local home inspector and real estate attorney who is in the community and aware of local issues. Once the home is yours, ask your real estate agent if they can recommend a handyman (or woman!) and yard workers.