8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often

As a first-time homebuyer or seller, you'll probably have a lot of questions. This is par for the course, especially if you have zero knowledge of the real estate process. More than likely, you'll drill your real estate agent with queries as you navigate the buying or selling of your home. And, one of these common questions is bound to come up. (See also: 5 Things Your Real Estate Agent Wishes You Knew)


As a buyer, you are probably most interested in what you're getting yourself into.

1. Is the neighborhood safe?

It's an interesting question, because we all have different thresholds for safety. Your licensed real estate agent is not allowed, however, to comment on the safety of the neighborhood. If you want a better understanding of the actual criminal activity in the area, you'll need to do your own research. You can use online tools to compare crime statistics between cities for a more accurate outlook.

Emile L'Eplattenier, real estate marketing and sales analyst for Fit Small Business, makes another solid point: "Always remember that crime can happen anywhere, and there is a very big difference between feeling safe and actually being safe."

2. How much will the house cost to renovate?

Your real estate agent can't give you a roundabout number on what your fixer-upper will cost to renovate, because they're not a contractor and they have no idea how expensive or inexpensive your taste may be. Joan Kagan, sales manager of a real estate listing site, often suggests to clients that they bring along a trusted contractor to help find a ballpark for this figure. Your agent may know someone who fits the bill, or, if you have a handy person in your own circle, invite them on your next walk-through to discuss your vision. (See also: 5 Home Renovations That Could Hurt Your Home's Value)

3. What do you think this will be worth in five to 10 years?

When Kagan is asked this question, she provides a democratic response: "The best way of predicting the future is to look at the past. History repeats itself. I can show you data on the average prices for over the past 10 years. Would that be helpful?"

It may be helpful, but as we all know, real estate is up and down and in between more than ever. It's probably best not to worry about the resale value in a specific time frame as much as getting the best deal you can right now.


Sellers are most likely interested in what they can get out of it.

4. What is my home worth?

If you've decided to put your home on the market, the first question you'll have is, how much is the house worth? Unless you're being forced out by circumstance, your main goal should be to make a bit of money off your investment or at least break even.

"Before determining a listing price, sellers should take the time to go online to research local comps to help gain an understanding of their property's market value," says Michael Lissack, a Massachusetts real estate agent for Owners.com. "In addition, it's important to reach out to a trusted real estate agent who can help sellers understand their market and evaluate their home and what is it worth. For example, if a seller remodels their kitchen or adds a bedroom, agents can account for that when they are evaluating the home's value."

A good initial resource for you to size up what your home is worth is the real estate site Zillow. It allows you to search addresses in your neighborhood to see the "Zestimated" value of the homes. This can give you a head start, especially if you're comparing similar houses, both inside and out, to yours.

5. Why can't I just sell my house on my own?

Selling your own house may seem like an ideal solution to those trying to avoid commission fees and other associated expenses, but some things aren't worth the trouble. Realtor and attorney Sammi Massie points out we pay for lots of professional services. (See also: How to Sell Your Home on Your Own)

"Would you cut your own hair, fix your own car, argue your own case in court, or anything else that there are professionals for?" she asks. "Let the professional handle the sale of the most valuable possession you have; that's what they do best."

6. Why do agents get paid so much money?

It can be a tough pill to swallow when you consider how much of your home's sale price will go toward paying your real estate agent. Most agents take a 5 percent to 6 percent commission from a home's sale: So if your home sells for $200,000, you can expect to pay your agent between $10,000 and $12,000.

Still, Massie makes a good case for why agents get paid as much as they do.

"With the amount of driving, marketing, and other fees that we have to pay in order to be agents and to sell real estate, the commission is not as much as it appears," she says. "Especially if we, as agents, are still paying into our company; they take a portion of our commission with each sale."

Also consider that your home may not sell right away. If an agent spends weeks (sometimes months!) trying to find the perfect buyer, they deserve to be compensated fairly for finally making the transaction happen.

7. How's the market?

In many markets, there's a shortage of inventory and rising home prices, making it a great time to sell. But most people who sell also want to buy, and they have to be realistic.

"The same conditions that make it a great time to sell may also make it difficult to buy," Lissack explains. "And with the competitive market conditions, both buyers and sellers are seeking opportunities to save money. Consumers should look toward online brokerages that can help sellers save thousands in traditional agent commissions through flexible listing packages, and in select markets, provide a buyer's rebate of up to 1.5 percent at closing."

8. How do I know if my timing is right?

You can keep an eye on local home prices, mortgage rates, and other factors to can help you decide when the time is right to sell your home, but often sellers can't wait for everything to fall perfectly in line. For many, there is no "right time."

"Timing is determined by what is happening in that person's life — if they need a new home right away, the timing is right regardless of the market," Lissack says. "The agent's job is to build a relationship, help them understand what's happening in their market, and support their client through one of the largest transactions they'll ever make."

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8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often

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