Questions to ask a real estate agent when viewing a property

Questions to ask a real estate agent when viewing a property

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Finding the ideal property can feel like a daunting and equally exciting experience — from having to look through a myriad of properties online to calling various agents and viewing the properties in person. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement or anxiety related to finding a new home when you’re viewing a property, which can put you at a disadvantage if you forget to ask important questions.

Here are the top 10 questions you should ask a real estate agent when viewing a property:

1. Ask them about their experience and qualifications

Before deciding to purchase a house, make sure that the estate agent you’re dealing with has the necessary experience and qualifications. This includes a fidelity fund certificate from the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) as well as experience with successfully selling properties.

2. Ask why the owner is selling and how long the owner has lived on the property

Knowing why the owner is selling is important. This can be beneficial for you in the negotiation stage. For example, if the owner is selling because they need the money or are relocating soon, they may be more open to accepting a lower asking price. Added to that, if the reason the owner is selling is shrouded in mystery, you might want to avoid the sale, as it may mean there is a problem with the property.

Finding out how long the owner has lived on the property is also important as it can give you an indication of the property’s condition. If the owner has lived there for a short amount of time, it’s worthwhile asking how long the owners before them lived there. You should also inquire if the property has changed ownership frequently in the last few years.

3. Ask the agent if the property has been on the market for a short or long time

A property that has been on the market for too long is most likely overpriced or has problems that were identified by other previous buyers. If it’s been on the market for longer than 3 months, ask the agent why they think that is. You can also use this to negotiate a lower selling price.

4. Ask how low the owner is willing to sell the property

Knowing the seller’s bottom line will give you the upper hand when it comes to negotiating the final price.

5. Ask the agent how they decided on the asking price

If the real estate agent is skilled and knowledgeable, they’ll be able to give you detailed statistics and facts about how they decided on the asking price. They may even show you similar homes in the area and give you information on what the average selling price is.

6. Ask what is included in the sale

Before you move forward with purchasing the property, ask what items on the property are included in the sale. You also need to physically see the items in question. This is important because you don’t want to assume that certain items are included only to be surprised at a later stage. Your contract should also state what the sale includes should you eventually decide to sign.

7. Ask how many offers have been made thus far

Knowing how many offers have been made can give you a competitive edge to make an offer that stands out above the rest. Even though you might not know the exact prices, you can get hints that’ll help you make the best offer possible.

8. Ask if the home has been recently renovated and if there are any existing issues

If the home has been recently upgraded, you should ask to see the upgrades and determine what state they’re in. Of course, a home inspector will be able to do this for you thoroughly, but you should also have a look before the inspector does.

Ask the agent if the seller has disclosed any issues with the property. This can help with negotiating a fair asking price and can also help you avoid committing to a home that may be too expensive for you to fix.

9. Ask when the owners will move out

If the owners are dependent on selling their current home in order to purchase a new one, it may result in a delay. If the owners already have a home ready, then chances are your purchase will be quicker as the owners will be open to selling as fast as possible.

10. Ask about the local neighbourhood

You should do extensive research about the area, the crime rate, the neighbours, as well as any new developments in the area. Location should be a major deciding factor when purchasing a property. Make sure that the area you choose is good and will develop over time, thus helping your property appreciate in value.

Using the top 10 questions above, you can ensure that you’re adequately prepared when viewing properties.

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