What questions should a first-time home buyer ask during the open houses or home showings?
- You can ask whatever you want, but they don't necessarily have
to tell you the truth. Open Houses are a great way to see a
house, not a great way to get info on it. Remember that in most
states the real estate agent at an open house works for the seller.
Usually you have the right to be represented by your own agent, and
that's the person you should direct your questions to. It doesn't
cost any more. Your agent has a reason to give you accurate
information and help you find a good house.
- First of all, you need to talk to at least 3 mortgage companies
BEFORE you start looking for houses to discuss rates and estimated
payments. It's always better to have an idea of what you can
afford. There are also online payment estimators. In my experience,
banks will preapprove you for more than you can really afford once
you add in insurance and taxes. While it's fun to go look at
million dollar homes, it will do nothing but frustrate you if you
can't get a loan for even a quarter million dollar home. Yes, an
agent can contact a mortgage company for you. Banks and credit
unions usually have lower fees and commissions, though.
- You should ask the sellers any and all questions that you may
have regarding the foundation and any problems with the house. Ask
about anything that concerns you but remember that unless you put
it in writing as part of your offer the answer is not legally
binding upon the seller. If the seller completes a seller's
property condition report then you should have it written into the
offer that the seller's property condition report survives the
closing of the purchase & sale.
- Ask the seller: What do you like most about the property and
what do you like least about the property? Sellers will almost
always lie when responding to this question, and it will give you a
feel that there are issues relating to the property that the seller
is concealing. Sometimes the seller give you a totally honest
answer and even tell you what he or she don't like with the
property. TRY to listen carefully to the seller, because sellers
like to talk a lot about their property and in the process disclose
more information than their broker would like them to.
- Go into all closets and cabinets and look up at the sealing for
fresh paint or brown spots, which is evidence of roof leaks. Flush
toilets and turn on faucets which will reveal evidence of plumbing
or septic issues etc.
- After going through two property buying experiences I
discovered that it is pretty difficult to find Realtors and
Mortgage Brokers that are truly looking out for your well being
100%. Problems, such as city liens and delinquent personal
property tax (missed by a title search) that a Realtor should know
and address or informed us about, we found out a month or close to
a year after owning the property.
- An open house is more or less for the agent to gather leads.
When you are shown a house and it is not YOUR agent be aware as
with the above answer that they are not looking out for your best
interest. It is always best to find a buyer agent. They will look
out for your best interest. They will remember anything you say
about how much you are preapproved for.
- DO NOT CALL every agent listed on each house you are interested
in looking at. Real Estate agents work on commission only. It is a
waste of your time and theirs to come out to show you a house and
then you sign with another agent. Yes, the agents are paid after
closing, and the check given to their broker for their cut. Many
people in the general public don't realize this. Would you want to
work for nothing?
- I highly recommend getting a buyer agent to show you any homes
you are interested in. They may also help search for homes that fit
your needs. The agent will ask you questions, talk with your
mortgage company and get the seller's disclosure for you. If you
are a first time home buyer, there are many advantages to having
someone guide you through it. Once you have an agent and you want
to go to an open house, take the opportunity to do it. Be sure you
tell the agent holding the open house that you do have an agent and
will be calling them if you like it.
- You should find yourself a buyers agent to solely represent
your interests, get referrals to 2 or 3 lenders and arrange your
loan. Then have your agent search for property that matches the
properties in your price range. Alternatively, you can research
homes on the Internet for your agent to arrange visits to. It's a
good idea to always use your agent to communicate to the sellers
agent or to the seller. Don't go to an open house and express your
interests to the other agent, they will want you to use their
services. And when one agent represents both the buyer and seller
there is an obvious fiduciary conflict on who the agent should be
more loyal to.
- Although one might be scared by the thought of a fiduciary
conflict, the issues of conflict in representing both the seller
and buyer on a price negotiation is worse. Also, if you do not have
a buyer's agent giving you detailed advice on what has sold in the
area in similar properties, you may overpay, not realizing the home
- In Massachusetts, and perhaps other states, the agent holding
the open house is working for the seller. If you ask that person to
help you with the process and write up the offer, that person is
still working for the seller, and is only assisting you with it,
but does not represent you. Only if you sign something saying that
person is your buyer's agent does that person work for you. In
Massachusetts, if they are working for both, they are a dual agent.
If the person helping you is a seller's agent, he/she can tell the
seller any information about you that you tell, including personal
and financial info, and that can be to your disadvantage in
negotiations, and that person's purpose is to get the most money
out of you to give to the seller. If you already have a buyer's
agent and you enter an open house, put your agent's name on the
sign in sheet, and perhaps give the agent the card of your buyer's
agent. If you wish to make an offer, the seller's agent can then
cooperate with your buyer's agent. The commission percentage is
decided when the seller lists the property. If the seller's agent
also handles the offer, the seller's company gets the whole
commission. It is not less because it is handled by one company. If
there is a buyer agent, the commission, same amount, gets divided
between the two companies.
- I would ask: when was the gas boiler last serviced and has it
been regularly serviced tested, if there are trees overhanging the
gardens, fences and gates, who is responsible for maintenance and
pruning, look at the exterior gutters and fashia boards - when were
these painted if at all, how old is the gas fired boiler, and
consider if it may need replacing, if there have been replacement
double glaze windows, are these still under guarantee.
- The first thing you should ask when you are going to buy your
own house or property and also you are just a first time home buyer
is about the safety of the place, then next ask if the house
already undergone on home inspection, then you need to ask also
about the possible calamities that the house already experienced
and of course do not forget to ask about the contract and price
whenever you are decided to get the place.
- If you are looking at a distressed home (repossessed or short
sale) ask for an amount of repair money to be included to cover
electrical, water heater, furnace, stove and roof deficiencies.
Otherwise once the offer is accepted, you may be in a bind if your
mortgage company will not give you a loan if the house has
appraisal issues and the bank or FNMA will not repair them. Really,
this is not for cosmetic issues, but rather house systems.