Buying your first home is an exciting big step. Homeownership comes with dreams of decorating your kitchen, a whirlwind of maintenance, and a great sense of pride from both. Once you’re sure you’re ready to buy your first home, then your first step should be to speak to your agent.

This article explores 10 Questions First-Time Homebuyers Should Ask their Real Estate Agent. We’ve separated the questions into two categories; the first half are questions about the realtor, the second half are questions you should ask about properties you’re interested in.

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN HIRING A REAL ESTATE AGENT

WHAT’S YOUR SCHEDULE LIKE?

Some real estate agents work part-time, others have extremely busy full-time schedules. Make sure your agent can meet when it’s convenient for you. It’s also important to find out if they’re planning any vacations or time-off; this could affect your timeline.

DO YOU HAVE REFERRALS?

Approximately 70% of a real estate agent’s customers come from referrals, so an experienced agent should be able to offer ample. Follow up on the referrals the agent gives you, and do your own investigating into their social media and other online reviews.

DO YOU OFFER ELITE ACCESS?

Getting early access to information about available properties in Norfolk County or learning the real market value of other properties in your location is a big plus. A great example is My Buyers, a special service offered by Gail Bouw. With My Buyers, you can be the first to find potential acquisitions and leverage better selling prospects.

HOW INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY ARE YOU?

Working with an agent that is heavily involved in the community you want to live in, can be very beneficial. They can be a reliable source of information and a great place to start networking from.

HOW WILL YOU HELP ME FIND A HOME?

This might seem like a silly question to ask, but it’s good to know your realtors’ process, before committing to them. Find out how much involvement they are offering and how involved they expect you to be as well. Remind them you’re a first-time home buyer, so you might need some extra help along the way.

QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT YOUR POTENTIAL HOME

WHAT IS THE MARKET LIKE IN THIS COMMUNITY?

Your agent should be able to tell you a lot about the community you’re interested in. For example, if the neighborhood is starting to see foreclosures, it could be a sign you should invest elsewhere. It’s possible all the homes in that community were built by the same builder, your agent will know if there’s been a problem with flooding or electrical.

HOW LONG HAS THE HOUSE BEEN FOR SALE?

If the home has been on the market for an extended period, there could be a reason. It might be as simple as an owner that won’t budge on the asking price. Or the house could have failed a safety inspection.

HOW MUCH ARE THE UTILITIES AND PROPERTY TAX?

Many first time home buyers forget to take property taxes and utilities into consideration, simply because they’ve never paid them before. Ask to see copies of the bills and be sure to add both considerations to your monthly budget.

ARE THERE ANY WARRANTIES OR INSTRUCTIONS?

It’s great when the seller is organized and can pass these documents on to you. The house may have had recent upgrades such as new windows or shingles that come with a guarantee. There may also be warranty info for appliances including the furnace and air conditioner.

WHAT COSTS CAN I EXPECT?

Be sure you’re prepared for the closing costs, including legal fees, title insurance, and house insurance. Discuss getting an inspection, your realtor can probably recommend an experienced home inspector. Be sure to ask about any prepaid or unpaid property taxes and any other expenses you may not be considering.