Whether you're buying or selling a home, asking real estate agents the right questions is imperative for you to get the best deal. Angie's List asked highly rated real estate agents which questions home sellers and home buyers should be asking themselves, and their agent.
Angie's List Tips: Questions home sellers should ask:
- "How are you going to price my home?" A real estate agent should do a comparable market analysis of similar homes in the neighborhood. You might get the high end, the low end, or the average based on condition of the home.
- "What is your marketing plan for my house?" At a minimum, a broker should post a property on a multiple listing service (MLS) and market it aggressively online. A real estate agent that cannot give a specific plan is likely not going to be as successful. A seller should be able to compare agents by the quality and extent of the marketing plans each agent has.
- "Is my home ready to sell?" Your home's condition is key. Often, sellers don't fully realize the importance of the home being move-in ready. Think about cosmetic improvements that increase curb appeal and fix little things, such as leaky faucets. When people are thinking about buying a house they are looking for reasons to rule it out — and little things might make them start thinking about big things that could be wrong.
- "Will this project add value to my home?" If you're thinking about larger remodeling projects to help improve your home's resale value or appeal, first assess your home and your neighborhood. Find out the typical resale price of homes in your area because you don't want to have the most expensive house on the block. In this market, many buyers won't pay more for updates because there are often other homes with comparable improvements and at a lower cost. With a little research, you can see what the average sale price is for homes in your area and determine what your ceiling is for investment.
Angie's List Tips: Questions home buyers should ask
- "What are my plans for this house?" Do you plan on being in that house for three years, five years, or ten years? In doing so, you'll end up finding a property that meets your needs today and will meet your needs down the road. That really benefits you on the back end when you're ready to sell.
- "What can I afford?" You may qualify for a higher amount that you actually want to pay. It's important to not only check with a mortgage agent to get pre-approved, but to know what the payments will be at that amount. Remember to factor in homeowner's insurance, property taxes, utility bills, moving costs, maintenance and any upgrades that you'll need to make.
- "What do I want?" Make a list of what you want and don't want. Search for homes online to get some ideas. Are you looking for a small home or a home where your family can grow? Comparative shopping is key. In order to get the price you want, you have to arm yourself with information. Check out similar homes.
- "How long has this house been on the market?" The length of time a house has been listed will affect the pricing - the longer the house has been on the market, the more chance the seller will make a larger cut in the price to move the home.
- "What is your sales history and experience level?" A good agent should be able to provide information on comparable sales of homes in the neighborhood, schools and other local services.
Angie's List Tips: Working with a real estate agent
- Hire a qualified real estate agent. Check references and reviews. Make sure your real estate agent is really working for you. If he or she isn't, find someone who will. "Interview them as you would interview your pediatrician," Brenner said. "Insist on meeting all the (members of that agent's team) so that you feel comfortable should your Realtor be unavailable."
- Does the agent have a good number of his/her own listings in the community where the buyer wants to live? An agent is most likely going to show the buyer the homes he/she has listed. Her commission will be higher because she is both the seller's agent and the buyer's agent in the same transaction.
- Is the agent associated with a realty company that has a large quantity of listings that are attractive to the buyer? An agent can bring the benefit of a much larger list of potential homes for the buyer to choose from if his network or agency has some prearranged sharing of commissions.
- Ask the agent for references of recent buyers he/she has represented. Ask the referenced buyers questions about the negotiations, the closing of the deal, and what, if anything, they had to give up in the negotiations.
- Experience and knowledge: Home buyer and sellers should talk to their real estate agent and gain their industry experience to see what industry knowledge they have, what area or areas of town they work in, and make sure that lines up with their goals.
- Licensed: "It's always good for the buyer to talk with the agent and make sure that they are licensed in the state in which they do business. Beyond that, talk to them about the different commission structures, what it will cost them to sell their house and what options they have available. What other fees might go into that program?"
- A good fit? Buyers and sellers need to make sure that the personalities match with their real estate agent. Make sure that their goals are in line with how the agent does business. Make sure that they work in the area in which that buyer is either looking to buy a house or sell his/her house.
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