As a Realtor, I always make sure to provide my clients with as much guidance and information as I possibly can.  Whether it’s your first real estate transaction or your fifth, there’s no shame in having some questions about the process; that’s what your Realtor is for!

While every transaction is as unique as the homeowners themselves, there are a handful of questions that tend to come up regularly.

Top 21 Real Estate FAQs Answered:

Questions Related To Buying A House:

1. What should I know about buying my first house?

You can never be too prepared for your first real estate transaction!  Every home purchase can be broken down into a series of small steps.  Ideally, once you’ve identified the neighborhoods where you’d like to look at houses, the best plan is to find an experienced Realtor who knows the area and can walk you through the homebuying process.

When you hire the right Realtor, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly which properties can realistically fit your needs, and determine where to go from there.  A good Realtor will work with you to establish a budget, view homes for sale, and create an effective negotiating strategy.

2. What are some tips for choosing a neighborhood?

Where you choose to live can have such a significant impact on your overall lifestyle!  I recommend spending some time writing down your top priorities and using the resulting list to find neighborhoods that fit your needs.  Don’t be afraid if you can’t single out a specific neighborhood right away; as long as you know where to start your search, the rest will usually fall into place.

3. Can I save money by buying a fixer-upper?

Unfortunately, there’s just no way to know for certain what to expect from a fixer-upper.  Remodeling a property is always easier said than done, but if renovating a home is something that interests you, just make sure you do your research first!

4. How do you know if a house is overpriced?

Determining the value of a home is not an exact science, however, the following circumstances usually indicate that the asking price of a home is too high:

  • Similar homes in the neighborhood are being sold for less
  • The house in question has been sitting on the market much longer than other homes in the area
  • The seller in question hasn’t received any offers

5. How do I choose the right home for my family?

To find the right house, you’ll need to consider your priorities.  Here are some questions to think about:

  • How much space do you need?
  • What neighborhood do you want to live in?
  • What amenities are important to you?
  • What sacrifices are you willing to make?
  • Do you expect your family to grow?
  • What kind of lifestyle is important to you?
  • Would you like to be part of a homeowners association?

6. What’s the best time of year to look at homes for sale?

In terms of available inventory, the best time of year to look at houses is usually in the spring, before the end of the school year.  Conversely, if your goal is to save money on a home, then it’s better to start your search in the winter, when decreased competition typically results in lower asking prices.

7. Is a home inspection necessary?

The short answer is: absolutely.

While it may be true that home inspections won’t uncover every problem, most contracts have a home inspection contingency that allows the buyer to back out of the deal if the inspection uncovers significant problems.  Rather than trying to save a few bucks upfront by foregoing an inspection, do your research to find a trustworthy inspector; it could save you plenty of frustration in the long run!

8. What is earnest money?

As the name suggests, earnest money is the deposit a buyer makes to the seller to prove the offer is sincere.  In some places, this is also known as “good faith money.”

9. What is the Option Period?

After the buyer deposits earnest money, the seller will take the home off the market, signifying the start of the Option Period.  The length of the Option Period should be stated explicitly in the contract, and during this time, the buyer has an opportunity to have the property inspected and, if necessary, can back out of the deal and still recoup the earnest money.

10. What can I do to understand the contract?

Initially, you and your Realtor should read over the contract together to discuss its terms and address any concerns you may have.  Prior to signing, however, it’s always wise to meet with a real estate attorney who can provide legal advice and help you revise or update any sections that you aren’t comfortable with.

11. What if my offer does not get accepted?

Sellers may either reject your offer, make a counteroffer, or, sometimes, not respond at all.  If your offer is rejected or you do not receive a response, you can try to reach out to the seller’s agent (or the seller, if there is no agent representing the home in question) for more information.

If the seller has not accepted your offer because he or she is holding out for more money, you can make the decision to either accept a counteroffer or walk away.  Ultimately, your choice should be influenced by your budget and timeline.

Always leave emotions out of the negotiating process!

Questions Related To Selling A House:

12. What is the best way to handle multiple offers?

It may be tempting to simply accept the highest bid, but keep in mind other factors that could affect the transaction.

For example, buyers who intend to take out a mortgage typically require a longer time frame to close, so if you need to move quickly, a cash offer could be the better choice.

You might even be more comfortable accepting one offer over another based on the bidders’ contingencies, so pay close attention to these details as well!

13. How long should I wait to lower the price?

If you have effectively marketed the home and buyers are aware of the listing, but simply aren’t making offers, then it may be time to lower your asking price.  Generally speaking, the longer a home stays on the market, the less likely the seller will get the full asking price.

Do not be discouraged if you need to drop your price; sometimes this is the only way to get a response from the market, especially if you need to sell your home quickly.

On the plus side, when you do lower your asking price, you could potentially catch the interest of multiple buyers and start a bidding war!

14. Why is it necessary to think like a buyer?

It’s important to keep in mind that the emotions and love you feel for your home are not shared yet by the buyer.

Without an effective marketing plan, you cannot expect buyers to know what makes your property a dream home.  Conversely, you have to remember that buyers are also considering other options; you and your Realtor must therefore convince buyers that your home is the best choice in their price range.

15. What can I do to make sure my home sells?

The first thing you should do when selling your home is to carefully select an experienced Realtor who understands your local market.  He or she should be able to discuss the following topics in detail:

  • Asking prices vs. selling prices of comparable homes in your area
  • The average number of days homes similar to yours have stayed on the market
  • Top concerns and preferences among buyers who will likely be interested in your home
  • Appropriate marketing strategies to help you sell your home quickly

16. Is it necessary to hire a stager?

You want your home to look inviting in photos and during walkthroughs.  In addition to making sure the house is clean and free of clutter, it’s always a good idea to help buyers visualize themselves enjoying the space.  While it’s not necessary to stage every room, adding some strategically placed furniture and décor can leave a strong impression on buyers.

17. How can I determine the right listing price?

Again, the best resource is a Realtor who’s familiar with your neighborhood.  Aside from your property’s unique features and selling points, market conditions and buyer demand will have a significant impact on the price your home ultimately sells for.  By hiring a Realtor who has worked in your neighborhood before, you’ll be able to cut out the guesswork and trust an expert instead.

18. What do I do if my house sells before I’ve closed on a home?

Sometimes, despite careful planning, sellers find themselves in a situation where they’ve sold their home and are not yet ready to move.

If you find yourself in this situation and aren’t willing or able to stay somewhere else, you can usually work out an rent-back agreement with your buyer.  Like the name implies, this allows you to rent your former home for an additional timeframe while you finalize the purchase of your new place.

19. What’s the best time of year to sell a house?

In general, demand starts to increase during the spring and summer seasons, but keep in mind that market conditions can always vary for a myriad of reasons.

20. What’s the best way to market my home?

As we discussed before, you always want to put yourself in the mindset of your buyer.

Work with your Realtor to identify the most attractive features of your home and neighborhood; from there, you should be able to determine what type of buyer would most likely make an offer on your home.  Use this information to create a marketing strategy that gets the attention of your ideal buyer and effectively communicates the property’s top selling features.

21. Should I pay for professional photos?

Most buyers will see your home for the first time via online photos.  If you aren’t confident in your own photography skills or you plan to take photos using your phone, it may be best to trust a professional.

On top of making sure your home is represented properly in photos, many real estate photographers also create video tours that can be shared online and are quite effective in attracting the attention of qualified buyers.

Still Have Questions About Buying And Selling Houses in Houston?

For nearly 30 years now, I’ve proudly assisted buyers and sellers in the Houston area, and am happy to answer all of your questions!  Please contact me today if you’re thinking of making a move, and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for regular updates about the Houston real estate market!

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