Questions for a Realtor

Whether you're looking to improve a home or buy land to build a home by yourself, you'll have to interact with a realtor. While it's the job of these real estate professionals to sell you a piece of property, they do know a lot about the area they work in and the rules and regulations involved with buying and selling property. Most importantly, they have a lot of knowledge concerning what improvements will sell, and which ones will not.

If You're Looking to Buy a Property

While a realtor will do everything possible to sell you on a property, he or she is legally obligated to tell the truth when you ask questions. That means you need to know what to ask, though.

What improvements or repairs have been done to this house?

This is one of the first things you'll want to know when you're looking at a place. The answer will let you gauge how much work you'll need to put in if you decide to buy it. Later, as you're looking at the list of repairs that have been made to the home, ask about any repair that has had to be made multiple times.

What special insurance coverages will this property need? Whether it's in a flood zone, or you'll need to purchase special coverage for a pool or other buildings, you want to factor that into your budget before you buy. Required extra insurance is also a good way to judge how at-risk a property is for future disasters.

What are the HOA restrictions? Too many people have bought a property only to find out later that they cannot have a fence, a swimming pool, or build an addition onto their house. You have the legal right to request a copy of these restrictions before you buy, and your realtor can get it to you.

If You're Looking to Improve Your Home

While realtors are not home improvement specialists, they have seen plenty of cases when a good rehab has added a lot of value to a home, and plenty of cases where a homeowner has invested thousands of dollars into his or her home, just to find out that he or she cannot recoup the money they put into the property. Most realtors are willing to answer a few questions about home trends in the hopes that you'll think of them when it's time to sell.

What improvement will add the most value to my home?

Believe it or not, this answer varies a lot based on the neighborhood, current trends, and type of home you own. For example, a major kitchen upgrade might be appropriate for a home in a high-end neighborhood, but it might not bring a lot of value to a home in a neighborhood with a lot of rental properties. A realtor will be able to tell you what improvements are causing homes to get top-dollar in your area.

Is there an improvement that I shouldn't make?

There are trends in home improvement that fade away, making a home look dated when it's time to sell. An experienced realtor has seen a lot of these trends come and go, and is usually a pretty good judge of what current trends are going to still be popular a few years from now.

Which contractors do quality work?

While some realtors and contractors work together to send each other referrals, most realtors will disclose these relationships. Being familiar with the real estate industry means that most realtors are familiar with the local contractors. They hear the horror stories from people who have no other choice but to get out of a mess by selling a property, and they also see the results of great work.

Buying, selling, or improving a piece of property is a major decision that requires a lot of time and effort. Talk to as many people as possible before making a move that could effect your entire financial picture.

For a comprehensive list of local realtors click here