Without a doubt, buying or selling a property will be one of the biggest transactions you will make in your lifetime. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you are an astute investor, having a real estate agent guide you with their expertise and advice throughout the process can be priceless. Here are some questions all buyers and sellers should ask.
Questions to ask if you are the buyer
- Can you tell me about the location?
Once you have found a property you want to buy it is time to arm yourself with some info, because after all, knowledge is power. And when you are ready to start negotiating, you will want all the power you can get.
If you are buying in a new suburb that you aren’t familiar with, one of the first questions for your real estate agent is to ask about this location. Agents tend to do a lot of their work in the same set of suburbs so usually know the location very well. They will be able to discuss past sales within the area, forecasts and of course give you an idea from their own experience which streets are the most sought after.
- Why are the sellers leaving?
Understanding the reason why a homeowner is selling helps you to understand your own negotiation position. If you discover the vendor has already purchased a new home or they are moving interstate for work or even if they are going through a divorce, it is fair to assume they’d like a quick sale. This means they might be willing to hear any reasonable offers, and the promise of a fast settlement might be what gets you across the line as the successful buyer. If they are putting out feelers for an expression of interest or haven’t found a new home yet, they might want to drag the sales process out a little longer and will be more likely to stick to their original sale or auction date without seriously considering any offers beforehand.
- How long has the property been on the market?
On average, Australian properties are on the market for about a month. If a property has been on the market for much longer, say six months, you will need to do some digging to find out why. The most common reason is that the house price is set too high, and they aren’t budging on coming down. However, it is always good to check there are no hidden red flags for why people aren’t buying, such as bad building inspection reports or future council development plans nearby.
- Have there been any renovations?
Asking about recent renovations can reveal a bit about the home. A new kitchen or bathroom will add to the final price, as it is appealing to a buyer to be coming into a freshly renovated home. When the renovations involve extensions or additions to the home it can be worth checking if the relevant DA and paperwork were filed before the work was done. Once you take over the home, you don’t want to be stung with having to undo the new additions if council discovers it was built without approval.
Questions to ask if you are the vendor
- How is this location going with sales?
If you live in the property that you are about to sell, you will have a good knowledge about the local area and what is going on in terms of sales. You may have noticed more For Sale signs appearing locally, and that those signs are getting the big SOLD sticker on them faster than usual. But do you know the actual numbers of house sales lately, or how many have been selling above the reserve price? Do you know firsthand how many people are looking to buy in your suburb or on your street? A good real estate agent will know what the current demand is for your area and property type, which will help you set a reasonable price expectation for your home.
- What are the negative points to my property?
If you are selling your home, try to keep the emotion at bay when having this discussion. Asking an agent what they think the negative points to your property are can be a very helpful conversation to have upfront. You may be able to fix or make changes to some of these points. For the ones that can’t be changed, it is good to know the kind of feedback you’ll likely be getting from potential buyers and be able to prepare yourself for that. Knowing some of the negative points can also help you work out who your target audience is. An unlevel, rocky backyard might be a negative for a young family, and a two-storey house might be a negative for an elderly buyer, but these things might be perfect for someone else.
- What is the cost of selling?
Even if you have sold properties before and you have a pretty good understanding of the costs involved, this is still a vital question to ask at the start of the selling process. Costs can be specific to each situation. An agent’s commission fee, how robust the marketing plan is, whether you need to pay capital gains are all things that can be different for each property. Also, some government charges and rebates may have changed since the last time you sold property, so it is always good to go over the costs and fees at the very beginning of the process.
When you are buying or selling property, there are no stupid questions. Your real estate agent will be a great guide and will be happy to answer any questions that will help make the process easier for you.