Selling a home can be a difficult and stressful process. We can't always predict what the housing market is going to be like. Sometimes, a house will sell the first day on the market, and sometimes it will sit on the market for months on end.
The best thing you can do is find a competent, helpful real estate agent to help guide you through the process. They can make selling your house as seamless as possible while ensuring you get a fair price.
However, there are certain questions to ask your real estate agent to make sure they're the right person for the job. Keep reading for our top 11 questions to ask before selling a home.
1. Are We in a Buyer's or Seller's Market?
First, you need to determine if you're in a buyer's or seller's market. The answer will dictate how easily you can sell your home, how much you can sell it for, and how much competition is out there.
In a buyer's market, supply exceeds demand. In real estate, it means there are more homes for sale than interested buyers. This can make selling your home much more difficult:
- Buyers will have an advantage during negotiations (depending on how quickly you want to sell your home)
- You'll likely have to drop your price to compete with other sellers
- Your home may sit on the market for a while (which can make it seem less appealing)
In a seller's market, demand exceeds supply. In other words, your home for sale is one of few and there are many interested buyers. If you can sell in a seller's market:
- You have the advantage during negotiations (as buyers have fewer choices)
- You can get away with a higher asking price
- Your home will sell quickly (most likely)
Ask your realtor which type of market you're in. If you're in a buyer's market but aren't in a rush to sell your home, it may be wise to wait.
2. How Long Have You Been a Real Estate Agent in This Area?
One of the most important questions to ask your real estate agent is how long they've been practicing, both in general and in your area. This is important for several reasons.
First, you'll want to know how much experience they have selling homes, juggling offers, offering advice, and negotiating terms. However, it's important to understand their experience with the local housing market, as well. Not all towns or neighborhoods operate the same way.
Having a locally-experienced realtor will give you an advantage when selling your home. They'll know the trends of the neighborhoods as well as important selling factors, such as school districts, proximity to parks, nearby accommodations, etc.
3. Do You Work With Buyers and Sellers?
Knowing what to ask your real estate agent means understanding the home selling process. You need to realize and appreciate the other side of the equation - the buyer. Therefore, it's important to ask your realtor if they have experience working with both buyers and sellers.
An experienced real estate agent who's worked both sides of the coin will know what the buyer is looking for. They'll also be able to predict possible negotiation tactics and demands. This will put you in a better place to adequately counter or meet their demands.
4. Are You a Full-Time Realtor?
It may seem personal, but asking your real estate agents if they're full-time or part-time is vital for understanding how well they'll be able to accommodate your needs. As a part-time realtor with an obligation to their other job, they may not be available as much as you'd like.
Alternatively, a full-time real estate agent can commit much more of their attention to selling your house. They'll be available to:
- Answer questions
- Show your home
- Field potential offers
- Give advice
- Negotiate with the buyers
- And more
We're not saying you must hire a full-time realtor or that part-time realtors are incapable of handling house sales, but it is an important factor for consideration.
5. Do You Have Connections or Recommendations for Other Services?
Good realtors will make it a habit to form affiliations with other local businesses in their industry. This will be both to their benefit and to the benefit of their clients. One of the most important questions to ask your real estate agent is who they know that can help you during the home selling process.
This can be anyone from appraisers and inspectors to moving companies. If you have repairs to make before selling, they may also now a good general contractor who can give you a good deal.
For home buying questions, realtors may have connections with local mortgage brokers and other lenders.
6. What Should I Do to Make My Home More Appealing to Buyers?
People have a lot of questions to ask before buying a home. They want to make sure they're getting a quality, functioning home for a fair price. To sell your home quickly, you need to put yourself inside the mind of the buyer.
Your realtor should be able to help you do this. Ask them what you can do to increase buyer appeal. Your budget will help you determine what is possible and what isn't.
Most real estate agents will sympathize with your needs and any budgetary constraints. They'll likely tell you to focus on inexpensive updates, repairs, and aesthetics, such as:
- A fresh coat of paint inside and (possibly) outside
- Extensive cleaning from top to bottom
- Maximizing curb appeal
- Fixing minor issues (leaky faucets, cracked windows, broken fixtures, damaged drywall, etc.)
- Staging the home (staged homes typically sell faster and for more money)
Your real estate agent will have been through the game enough times to tell you exactly what you need to do to attract more buyers and get them on the hook.
7. Should I Get My Home Pre-Inspected?
In most places, when a buyer is interested in a home, they will place an offer on it and pay for a home inspector to ensure the home is sound. However, one of the most popular questions to ask your real estate agent is whether or not you should get the home inspected in advance.
Getting an inspection ahead of time can uncover important issues that could potentially disrupt a sale. If a buyer pays for an inspection and uncovers water damage, mold, a roof in disrepair, or worse, it may scare them away from your house, even if you are willing to take care of it.
8. What Are Your Hours of Availability and How Can I Contact You?
Figure out what to ask your real estate agent to determine their availability. While no one wants to come off as "needy" or "high-maintenance," the sale of your home is no small thing. You need to find out how available your realtor will be to you.
You can't expect them to answer phone calls or emails 24-hours a day. However, it shouldn't take them days to get back to you either. Figure out the best way to contact them, as well as a secondary option.
9. What Do You Think is a Reasonable Price for My House?
Real estate agents perform a comparative market analysis to determine fair asking prices on homes. These look at 10 (or so) houses in the immediate area that have recently sold. Because real estate prices are significantly affected by the current market and location, the other houses used for the analysis must be in the same neighborhood and within the last few months.
Using this information, you can determine an accurate and fair asking price for your home. However, the buyer's appraiser may find your home to be of lower or greater value, which will affect negotiations.
10. What Are My Negotiation Options?
One of the most important questions to ask your real estate agent is how to negotiate with the buyer. While it would be nice if the buyer offered your asking price and everything worked out with the appraisal and inspection, few sales are that easy.
Be prepared to negotiate and talk to your agent about your options. They may suggest:
- Lowering the price
- Meeting buyer demands to make repairs
- Offering furniture and appliances instead of lowering the price
- Lowering the price but refusing to pay realtor/closing costs
- Offering to pay closing costs/realtor fees but keeping the asking price
- And more
There are limitless options when it comes to negotiating a house sale. You may be surprised by what the buyer is willing to accept. Your realtor will help you keep them enticed without giving away the farm.
11. What Are My Closing Costs Going to Look Like?
Finally, you need to know what costs you're going to accrue when selling your home. The old adage of needing to spend money to make money is just as true in real estate as it is in business. Ask your realtor what costs you can expect, such as:
- Home staging
- Repairs and updates
- Home inspection
- Relator fees
- Closing costs
- And more
No one enjoys the prospect of spending thousands of dollars to sell their home. However, it is necessary, and it may help to know about these costs in advance.
Do You Have More Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent?
Selling and buying homes isn't always a straight forward business. However, finding the right help can go a long way to making your life much easier. It can even save you money in the long run and prevent serious mistakes.
Our blog is dedicated to helping home sellers like you know the right questions to ask your real estate agent. Be sure to check out the rest of our articles for more valuable information. Also, feel free to use our site to find a real estate agent near you!