Buying a new home – especially as a first time buyer – can be fraught with perils and anxieties.This short overview should give you a list of what you really shouldn’t be asking, so you can turn up to that open house – whether it’s a rural Italian cottage or a Birmingham, Alabama condo for sale – with the confidence of a long-term investor.
How much work does it need?
Don’t ask the owners this. Owners know the reality of the housing market: the longer a property sits on the market, the worse its outlook becomes.
On one hand, you shouldn’t immediately presume that the listing price has been adjusted due to the place needing work. On the other, most sellers already realize that the home they’re selling needs repairs or updating, and they’ve likely accounted for that when pricing it.
So – faced with a few wonky floorboards or missing insulation – it’s tempting to ask. However, an estimate for repairs should be handled by the licensed contractors you get to have a look at it.
This gives you far more bargaining power when it comes to an eventual negotiation.
This advice is doubly true if it’s a foreclosure sale – banks will sometimes sit on properties for years or decades, allowing the house to fall into a state of disrepair. Furthermore, the bank is under no legal obligation to tell you how much repairs will cost
If you’re faced with anything that isn’t a brand new property, don’t take the risk of just asking the owner. Protect your investment and your home by performing due diligence beforehand.
What’s my house worth?
Your real estate agent is a vital component to the house-buying and selling process. That’s why it’s important to interview a few, and choose the best fit for your area and requirements.
However, when you’re interviewing agents, it’s tempting to just pop the question. The reality is, that asking this now can undermine a lot of the agent interview process.
It makes you much more vulnerable to the less trustworthy agents. They’re well aware that you will want the best price you can get: and a lot of property agents are paid a commission on the number of new customers they can get.
This means that some agents will tell you an unreasonably high price – right out the gate – just so it entices you to work with them.
Instead of getting caught up in what your house is worth, focus on what type of marketing your agent will do. Marketing gets your property seen by the people that matter.
You can also ask your real estate agent about the insurance. As practice shows, many agents have to do a lot to prevent themselves from making any mistakes because even the most skillful agent can overlook something. That’s why it could be a good idea to think about insurance for real estate or any other type of property or liability insurance when buying a home.
How many offers have you received?
As a buyer, it’s tempting to ply the seller with as many questions as possible. However, a seller knows that anything they say can – and will – be used against them in negotiations to buy.
For example, if the seller mentions that they hope the home sells soon, this will absolutely affect the buyer’s offer. A well-trained seller will simply respond with ‘ask my agent’.
At the same time, it’s actually fairly common for sellers to turn to surveilling their open-house guests for an upper edge in negotiations.
Instead of caving to this intellectual arms race, keep an unbiased, clear mind about your own priorities and compromises about the property. With the help of your real estate agent, you’ll be able to tune out the noise and focus on buying a property you love.