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Deciding to Buy

Essential questions to ask when buying your first home

Purchasing a property can often seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. There’s a lot you need to think about, many decisions to make, and plenty of information to process that it can be a stressful endeavor for anyone.

One of the keys to success is to ask your real estate agent the right questions. This will give you a good perspective of the real situation and will help you make the right decisions towards your goal of homeownership.

Here are essential questions to ask your real estate agent when looking for homes for sale in San Ramon, CA.

Why is the home for sale?

Don’t expect to get a concrete answer to this question, but ask it anyway, and you might get tidbits of information that can help you out. Look for signs of the previous owner’s desperation to sell (maybe they’re relocating because of their job, etc.), as this could mean they’re more open to negotiating for a lower price.

How long has the house been on the market?

One of the main reasons why a property remains on the market for an extended period is because it’s overpriced, which is often the result of a seller’s poor pricing strategy. The longer a home remains on the market, the more difficult it is to sell, as the listing is now considered “stale.” A stale listing drives off prospective buyers, as they may believe something is wrong with the home (otherwise, it should have sold already).

A home that has been on the market for a long time might be purchased for a lower price, as the seller could be more willing to negotiate.

How did your agent come up with the asking price?

Experienced agents provide client with justifications towards determining an ideal asking price. Your agent will also inform you if they believe the seller might be overvaluing their home. In any case, it’s always a good move to look at other homes for sale in the neighborhood, so you’ll get a good idea of how much homes in your area are selling for.

When do the sellers need to move out?

Find out whether the sellers have already found a new home to relocate to. In case they have, they might be inclined to sell the home as soon as possible. If they’re still in the process of looking for a home, this could mean you have to wait. This can make things uncertain for you as a buyer, as everything will depend on what the sellers do next.

Is it possible to speak directly to the sellers?

Most real estate agents are uncomfortable with this, as it is their job to negotiate. If they think it’s a good idea however, then it will give you the opportunity to ask why they are moving. Their answers might give you a much better feel for the house as well – find out what they love about it and what can be improved.

What’s included in the sale?

There might be certain parts of the property the owners intend to move, like furniture, garden sheds, ceiling fixtures, and so on. Be sure you know exactly what’s included in the sale. Ask your agent to have it written into the contract in order to avoid any unexpected problems post-purchase.

How often has the property changed hands?

A home that has changed hands repeatedly during the last several years might have underlying problems. Try to find out why the previous owners moved out of the home. See if there’s any way you can get in touch with them.

Does the house currently have any outstanding offers?

Agents usually inform clients regarding other offers without revealing how much they were. However, agents have an incentive to get an agreed upon price, so they could be willing to drop a few hints or clues. In case you do get details on the other offers, it’s now easier for you to figure out exactly how much you should offer to the seller.

Does your agent have any recommended real estate attorneys, home inspectors, or handymen in the area?

When purchasing a home, local expertise matters not only when hiring an agent, but with other real estate professionals as well. Ask your agent for recommendations for a real estate attorney, home inspector, handyman, or any other professional you need during the home buying process. Hiring someone who’s trusted by your agent will make the process more seamless for you.

Looking to buy a house in San Ramon, CA? Call Steve Swepston today at 925.248.1111 or send an email to steveswepston(at)gmail(dotted)com to find exceptional homes for sale in the area!

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