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Eight Questions to Ask Your Realtor When House Hunting

If you're working with a real estate agent, you can ensure that the home is a good fit for you and your family by asking these eight questions

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1. Why is the homeowner selling? 

Is the seller moving because they took a new job overseas, or is it because the home is slowly sinking into the ground? Asking what the motivations are behind the seller's move will help you gage if the home will be a good fit for you. If the seller is moving because he or she has to be somewhere else within a predetermined time, they may be more willing to negotiate on price. Finding out how long the sellers have lived in the home may be helpful information to gather as well. Are they moving because they don’t love the neighborhood, or are they taking a sabbatical in another country?  


2. What is the market like in the neighborhood?

Nobody wants to move into a neighborhood that's moving into a stretch of foreclosures. It can be obvious with some neighborhoods by the abandoned houses and for sale by bank signs throughout the streets, but other times, the neighborhood may be in decline and you won't know it until a few months after you've moved in. Ask your agent about the neighborhood market, specifically if there's any concern that the neighborhood may decrease in desirability.


3. What is the property worth? 

Your real estate agent may not tell you directly what you should offer on the home, but they can help you to compare similar homes in similar neighborhoods to see what price they sold for. By asking your agent the high and low sell price for similar properties (also known as "comps") you can make an educated offer on a home.


4. Is the seller flexible on asking price? 

If you make a low ball offer on a home, you could offend the buyer and lose your chance at purchasing the house. Talk to your agent or the listing agent to ask if the seller is wiling to negotiate on their asking price.


5. Are there any seller disclosures? 

Legally, a seller has to disclose any problems with the home. Be sure to ask your agent for these disclosures so you can know what's going on with the home and what state its systems and appliances are in before you make an offer.


6. How many times has the property been sold? 

If the property has been on and off the market multiple times within the last 10 years, it could point to a problem in the home that the owners discovered. It may be the location, neighborhood or the house itself. Check with your agent to see how often the home has been moved out of, and if the number seems high, ask why.


7. How long has the home been in the market? 

Having a home that is on the market for a longer period of time could point to problems in the home or a seller who refused to change on the asking price. Ask your agent how long the home has been on the market, and if it has been on the market for a long time, why. 


8. How much are the property taxes and utility bills? 

It's always a good idea to have a plan in place when it comes to budgeting your money. You’ll need to make sure you could afford the home itself. First, you’ll need to get prequalified for a loan from your bank so you know what your monthly mortgage payment will be, but knowing some of the extra costs involved can help you plan ahead. Asking what the property tax and utility bills cost for the house can help you ensure you can afford the home with your mortgage.


**For a list of Realty Agents in the area click here.