4 Questions Your Real Estate Agent Really Wishes You’d Ask Them

published Aug 10, 2021
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You may not know this, but there’s such a thing as “real estate etiquette.” It refers to those things that your real estate agent won’t just come out and tell you right away, either because it might catch you off-guard or could be considered rude. However, if you asked them a couple of extra questions, they’d be perfectly honest in their answers.

These are some of the things real estate agents (and brokers) wish you would ask them — and would be more than happy to answer.

Is my budget realistic?

Most buyers know they need to budget for a down payment and their monthly mortgage. But according to Shelton Wilder, founder and CEO of the Shelton Wilder Group in Los Angeles, many buyers — especially first-time homebuyers — don’t understand that they need to save more than that. “Buyers should also budget for any repairs or unforeseen events that come up — also known as a prudent reserve,” explains Wilder.

She reveals that agents don’t want to just come out and say this for fear of scaring the buyers into thinking that maybe they can’t afford to purchase a house. “However, if they would just ask, agents would be happy to inform the buyers that old properties require a large amount of funds to maintain, upfront and in the future, and new properties can even require more attention as they’re brand new and haven’t been standing for 60-plus years.”

Wait… what? Isn’t the advantage of buying a new home the fact that it won’t need as much attention? Not quite, Wilder explains.

“New homes need constant inspections and, in most cases, construction can be a work in progress,” she says. Some out-of-pocket expenses might pop up, which makes it important to have a prudent reserve.

Should I submit a best and final offer upfront?   

Nope, according to Nicholas Oliver, principal broker at HomeDax Real Estate in New York. You may think you’re doing the seller a favor when you cut to the chase and avoid a protracted negotiation, but you’re not. “The problem with this strategy is that sellers always expect a buyer to improve upon the original offer terms, regardless of how competitive the initial offer actually is,” he explains.

In fact, Oliver says sellers get a type of emotional high when buyers raise the offer price — and if you start out with your best offer, you’re depriving the seller of these emotions.

“Moreover, submitting a best and final offer upfront comes off as aggressive and runs the risk of personally offending sellers, as they may feel ‘cornered’ by the buyer’s lack of flexibility.” So, he believes that failing to leave any room to negotiate is an ineffective strategy. “The only time it might be advantageous for a buyer to submit a best and final offer upfront is in the case of a very competitive listing,” he says.

Do I seem unprepared for this process?

“Being a homeowner requires a lot of time, and being a future homeowner requires even more,” Wilder says. Some buyers just decide they want to buy a house and then just jump into the market, but she warns that they could be unprepared. “For example, there are many terms and conditions that are foreign to the average person, and Googling, asking, reading and about things — like escrow, escrow officers, loans, and more — regarding the American real estate system can be quite lengthy.”

Your real estate agent is there to help you understand these terms, of course, but it’s worth taking their temperature to see if you need an extra helping hand, like from a first-time homebuyer’s course.

Who will hold the home’s title?

This is actually a question real estate agents wish they weren’t asked: When a couple purchases a home together, even if it’s a co-ownership, one person will sign the contract as the primary owner. Wilder says it’s a conversation that many couples don’t have in advance.

“It can be a very intimate conversation and we wish clients would discuss their decision in private and come forward on their own, disclosing their decision,” she says.

Instead, this is often not the case and she says agents often have to initiate this conversation. “If the future homeowners would just or tell us, it would be a much smoother process and conversation,” Wilder says. Lean into your agent’s expertise, and give them permission to tell you what you need to know without worrying that you’ll get flustered.