Questions to ask real estate agent when you want to buy a home

1. How quickly can you set up a visit for me?

Homes can sell rapidly in a hot market, often even the same day they are listed for sale. Buyers examine "pending" listings in order to get first dibs on new homes as soon as they become available. How quickly can your agenttake you on a tour of a fresh listing that you like?

You can miss out if your agent can't get you in within one to two days of the home going on the market.

2. From the first visit to the closing, how long do you generally work with buyers?

In a few days, you're unlikely to find what you're looking for. It could take much longer if you have a big list of requirements. It could take several months from the time you start looking for a home to the time you close on one. While there are no hard and fast rules for how long it should take to buy a house, a skilled agent can help speed things up.

They'll know which areas offer the attributes you're looking for and may be able to point you in the direction of places you hadn't considered before. Their negotiation talents will help you beat out other bidders and finish the deal more quickly. Be skeptical of agents that respond to this question with "six months or longer" unless you live in a really challenging market.

3. What's going on in this neighborhood, and how can it affect housing prices?

As new businesses open, schools are established, and demographics fluctuate, communities evolve. A skilled agent maintains track of the local community and can tell you whether an area is more family-friendly or better suited for a retired couple. They can direct you to the community that best suits your lifestyle, whether it's based on walkability or strong schools.

4. Have you dealt with a lot of foreclosures or short sales?

Short sales and foreclosures are popular among bargain-hunting buyers. However, purchasing a distressed property is far more difficult than purchasing a home from a regular seller. Your dangers are increased because they're frequently sold "as is."

Look for an agent that has concluded complex deals in the past if you're considering including bank-owned houses in your home search.

5. How can you assist buyers in standing out?

It's not enough to make an offer in a competitive market. Buyers frequently compose offer letters in which they introduce themselves and explain why they are interested in the seller's home. To sweeten the bargain, they may offer to forgo an inspection or other conditions.

Inquire with your agent about their recommendations and how they've helped other buyers stand out.

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