The home buying process involves a lot of decisions on your part, such as where you want to live, what features you’re looking for in a home, and how you will pay for it. It also involves many professionals, from your real estate agent to your mortgage lender, who will help you at varying stages of the process. You’re bound to have questions along the way to your very own front door.
You may not always realize what to ask each person before working with them or who is the best person to answer each specific question. We compiled some general questions you should consider asking your realtor, banker, lawyer and home inspector.
Questions for Your Realtor
There are many important factors to consider when choosing a realtor or real estate agent. The first question to ask is if the realtor has experience in your ideal market(s). Aside from experience in the area that you’re looking, you also want to be sure that your real estate agent works with first-time home buyers. With so many first-time homebuyer programs out there, an experienced realtor will be able to show you homes that qualify for those programs, instead of letting you fall in love with a home first.
Another key question to ask is whom the real estate agent represents. Understand upfront if your realtor is working for you or working for the seller. While many technically can represent both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction, there could be conflicts of interest in this scenario. It’s important to have your own representation who will be an advocate for you. Ask in advance what their commission rate is. Five to six percent is a typical commission for the sale of a house, which would commonly be split if a buyer’s and seller’s real estate agents are involved in the same transaction. Fees can be negotiated.
Other factors to consider include:
Lastly, inquire about your real estate agent’s certifications and designations from advanced educational courses that better position them to help you find the right home, what to look for, how to market a home and what it will take for you to be approved through a lender. Three important designations to look for are:
Choosing a real estate agent is the first step toward owning your dream home. They are the experts in the real estate market, including helping you determine the difference between competitive and overpriced homes. They also are a valuable resource in providing guidance on and introductions to other vendors in the process, such as lenders or home inspectors. Sample questions you may want to ask your realtor:
Questions for Your Lender
Choosing a lender is the next step in this process. Because a mortgage is a long-term financial commitment, you want to build a relationship with a reliable lender you trust. Ask if your lender has experience working with first-time home buyers. Seek out reviews of your lender and don’t be shy about asking for references. Once you have chosen a lender, you’ll want to find out from them:
Questions for Your Lawyer
Lawyers are essential in the homebuying process because if a legal complication arises, you want to have an expert on your side. If you’re buying a multi-family home, for instance, you should check with your lawyer regarding steps you need to take to ensure a unit will be vacated for you.
You want to ask your lawyer if they have residential real estate experience, as opposed to commercial real estate experience. Other questions you may consider asking your lawyer:
Questions for Your Home Inspector
Once you find a home you love, it’s time to call an inspector. You want to find someone who is reliable, thorough and will offer you an honest assessment of the property. The first question to ask is if the home inspector is affiliated with the listing agent. If that is the case, you’ll want to find your own inspector. Additional questions to ask your home inspector include:
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