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June 14, 2018
June 14, 2018
Open houses are a great way to see what’s available beyond simply scrolling through listings on Zillow or other sites. But they’re also an opportunity to interact with the seller’s real estate agent, which can be very informative.
Whether you’re a first time home buyer or not, this is your chance to get to know more about the home, the neighborhood, and what you might be getting yourself into if you sign on the dotted line. To prepare yourself ahead of time, here are seven questions you should ask the seller’s agent when viewing a home for sale.
The first thing you might want to know about the home is, if it’s so fantastic, why are the sellers moving? Is it because they are relocating to another city, or are they fed up with their neighbors and couldn’t stand it anymore? Of course, the seller’s real estate agent could gloss over anything negative about the house, but if there’s something wrong you might be able to read between the lines of their answer.
If there is any major structural damage or the home isn’t up to code, the seller is required to tell you as a prospective buyer. While these things will usually be uncovered during a home inspection, it’s still worth asking in order to save yourself some time. Also be sure to ask the seller’s agent if you can get a copy of the disclosure statement, which is a document that outlines any defects of the house, any renovations that have been done, and any upgrades that have been made. This can help you avoid paying for home improvements later on.
It is in the seller’s best interest to tell you everything they can on the disclosure statement in order to prevent legal trouble in the future, but how much they are legally required to tell depends on the state or even the county that they’re in.
Even if you fall in love with the home at the open house, you still want to be sure what kind of competition you’re in for, which is why you should ask the seller’s agent how many buyers have put in an offer. If the home in question is at the tippy top of your budget and multiple offers have already come in, you might realize it’s not worth pursuing. Or you might realize that you need to make an offer quickly. At the same time, if the home has been on the market for some time and there are no offers on the home, you may want to ask yourself what other buyers know that you don’t. You should also ask if there is a deadline for submitting an offer. In very competitive markets, the deadline could be 1-2 days after the open house. Your real estate agent can help you navigate these tricky waters.
Though you can often learn how long the home has been on the market using listing sites like Zillow or Trulia, it’s best to ask the seller’s agent this question to get additional information. If the home has been on the market for a long time, you can probe the seller’s agent for more details. Were the sellers working with another agent previously who suggested a listing price that was too high, or is the area you’re in just in a bit of a slump all across the board? These are questions that the agent can give you some context on.
Even if you don’t have children, this question still matters. Home appreciation can sometimes depend on the quality of the local school districts. If you’re in a good school district, your home value has a good chance of increasing as the years go by, giving you greater home equity. It’s important to ask the agent this question because online listings don’t always list the correct school district. If you do have children, of course, it’s nice to know what school they’ll be attending so you can do your own research about the school and the district.
Is your potential new neighborhood filled with families and retirees or is it close to a university and filled with college students who like to throw huge parties on Tuesday nights? Think about what stage of life you’re in and what kinds of neighbors you want to surround yourself with. You may find the idea of a quiet neighborhood a bit boring for your taste and prefer to be in the center of it all. Or you may think that being near all the bars and restaurants will bring too much traffic to the neighborhood and prefer something a little lower key. The seller’s real estate agent can give you some insight into the overall feel of the neighborhood.
Asking the seller’s agent about the best places nearby is a good strategy because their reaction might tell you whether or not the home is in a decent location. If it takes them a few minutes to come up with good spots – or if they name places 10 miles away – then the house may not be situated in the most desirable location. However, if the agent is eager to tell you about an adorable hole-in-the-wall restaurant or bar that’s within just a few minute’s walking or driving distance, this could bode well for the location.