When you're shopping for a new home, it's not uncommon to go on multiple showings per day with your real estate agent. As you tour each home, it's easy for details to start running together--which is why it's always a good idea to obtain a paper copy of each listing and make notes about each home during your showing. Specifically, there are a few questions worth asking your agent about each home that can help you narrow down your choices.
How Old Are Key Components?
The listing itself should disclose the age of the home, but what about the age of important (and expensive) components, such as the HVAC and roofing? Your agent should be able to find this information out for you either during the tour or shortly after. This information can be useful in negotiations, especially if many of the home's major components are older and may be nearing time for replacement.
Are There Any Disclosures?
Disclosures may or may not be included in the printed listing you receive. And even if they are, the language may be vague or difficult to understand. Ask your agent whether or not there are any disclosures you need to know about. This could include information from the seller about a previous foundation repair, mold issue, or other problems.
Do You Think the Price is Fair?
Your real estate agent will do a great deal of research on each property before your showings. As part of this research, he or she will be running comparisons on nearby homes that have recently sold to assess whether the property is fairly priced, underpriced, or overpriced. Don't hesitate to ask for your agent's professional opinion here; you don't have to wait until you're ready to make an offer to start talking about pricing and negotiations.
What Other Costs Should I Consider?
In addition to the cost of the home itself, you'll also want to be aware of property tax assessments, homeowners association fees, and other costs. Your agent may even be able to gather information on the average utility costs of a property from the seller's agent, which can inform your decision.
A real estate listing can tell you a lot about a home, but there's a lot more your real estate agent can find out for you. Be sure to ask these questions of your agent as you begin touring homes for sale so you can make a confident offer!