The 6 Questions Real Estate Agents Get Asked the Most

published Oct 9, 2022
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The process of buying or selling a home starts off as a relatively cut and dry transaction. But it often ends up having enough twists and turns along the way to rival the plot of a thriller. 

That’s why it’s important to have a real estate agent represent you in the property deal. Not only do they know the ins and outs of the real estate market in your area, but they’ve been through property purchases and sales many times before so they can answer the myriad of questions you will have along the way.

In fact, we had some agents and brokers weigh in on some of the top questions they get from clients on both the buying and selling side of real estate. Consider this short list of FAQs — and add a few of your own — when it’s time for you to buy or sell a home.

How many homes should I view before I buy one?

If only it were an exact science to determine the number of open houses you should attend before settling on “the one.” But it’s just not the case. 

Rebecca Blacker of Coldwell Banker Warburg says educating yourself about the real estate market is key “before making the biggest purchase of your life.” While starting your search online is fine, it’s important to see many homes in person. Not only does it help you figure out the type of property you’re looking for, but it also gives you an idea of what the real estate market looks like at your price point, she explains.

“Then, when you find ‘the one,’ you understand what it is worth and feel good about what you’re buying,” Blacker says. “I never want a client to have buyer’s remorse!”

How long will it take from contract sign to close?

Ah yes, this is the real estate equivalent of, “Are we there yet?” But we don’t call it the journey to homeownership for nothing, so it’s a good question.

Broker Kimberly Jay of Compass says, “If the buyer is financing, [it takes] approximately 3 months. If the buyer is paying cash, approximately 2 months.” 

It’s interesting to note that even without all the extra paperwork from the mortgage lender, cash buyers might only shave a month off the timeline to close on the property. This goes to show how many moving parts there are in a real estate transaction.

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How do I set a price for my house?

It’s fine to want to aim for the highest price you can possibly get for your home. But if you actually want to find a buyer, you’ll need a better strategy than just saying “one MILLION dollars” (cue Dr. Evil laugh). 

“You need to check what the market for houses looks like in your area and those like your own,” says Eyal Pasternak, a Florida real estate agent and founder of Liberty House Buying Group. Instead of picking a price, determine a range based on factors like location, size, additional fixtures and so on. You should consult your Realtor in case they’ve sold similar houses recently.”

Should I stage my home for sale?

If you’ve ever watched a home improvement TV show, you might get the idea that staging your home is a prerequisite for selling your home. While it’s not always mandatory — white box listings are having a moment — it can certainly help.

“A buyer decides in the first 10 seconds of being in the home if it’s the right fit for them,” says Blacker. “They want to be able to envision themselves in the space and be able to make it their own.” She notes that many buyers can’t see past certain furniture or decorating styles, and they will get turned off if the space has too much clutter or is overly personalized to the seller’s preferences. 

“When the home is clean, decluttered, and neutral in color and furniture, buyers can see the space for what it is,” Blacker explains. “Staging not only helps to sell a home for more money, but it often creates more interested buyers and a quicker sale.

Can I offer less than asking price?

Bidding wars are commonplace when the market is super hot. But as inventory starts to fill up and buyer demand starts to cool, it’s not a bad question for buyers to ask.

“My answer on this will vary depending on the home and how hot the market is,” says Brett Rosenthal, Realtor and team leader with the Revolve Philly Group at Compass in Philadelphia. “For the last year the answer was usually ‘no’ because there was so much competition. But lately, there is less competition, so in many cases especially where the home has been on the market awhile, I tell them that they likely will accept less and that it’s worth a shot to offer less.”

If something is wrong with the home, am I locked into buying it?

Buyer’s remorse is very much a thing in real estate. But unlike that vase you bought online that was delivered in pieces, it’s not exactly possible to return a house once you’ve bought it. So it’s understandable that first-time buyers especially want to know when they’re about to reach the point of no return in their property deal.

“There are contingencies in place that give a buyer the right to cancel should something unforeseen arise during the inspection period of the purchase contract,” says Suzanne Seini, CEO of Active Realty in Orange County, California. “As long as you are within the proper contingency timeline, decided on by you and your real estate agent and agreed to by the seller, you are able to cancel with no repercussions.”