House hunting- what can I ask the realtor?

get a hold of “house buying for dummies”. very,very good book.

look for an inspector who is not connected with any realtors or contractors. check out the pictures on this old house’s web site for the scary “fixes” inspectors can find.

Also ask for a list of comparable properties that have sold within the past year or so, and how much they sold for. This should give you a rough idea of how much you should bid for.

Needless to say, a direct comparison will seldom be possible – especially since you will probably never know what state of disrepair the other properties were in. Nevertheless, this will give you something to go on.

Well, we went to a house today! (yay!) It’s one I’ve been looking at on the net for over a month now, and we went directly through the agency that it’s listed through. The area I’m looking at is here:,MI/49113_zip/41.719056,41.871535,-86.785558,-86.218211_xy/#for_sale/49113_zip/41.73238,41.884827,-86.749166,-86.181818_xy/
And looking at the houses they have listed as sold gives me hope that I might get the price down on the house, which I found here:

Jim and I are still discussing our options. This house is way smaller than the one we live in, but seriously it’s so not a bad thing. And it’s within five miles of where I grew up, and the kids go to the school in that district already.

I want to thank everyone who has given great opinions here, I’ve been checking into a lot of them.

Just a couple of thoughts -

If you have a “Buyer’s Agent” it’s true that they split the commission with the listing agent, but if you use just the listing agent then they will usually lower the comisssion - say from 6% to 4%.

Also, like someone else said, you could hire a Buyer’s Agent and pay them a flat fee, but that’s probably a fairly unusual situation and you might have a hard time finding one willing to do it. Hiring a real estate attorney is a good idea, but you lose the “market knowledge” that a good realtor can give you. (yeah, yeah, I know “good realtor” is kinda an oxymoron).

If you just use the listing agent and get them to lower the comission from 6 to 4, on a 300,000 house that’s $6000. If you pay a realtor 500 to be your realtor and an attorney 250 to look everything over, then you’ve saved $5250 and probably gotten better service!

Is the house you linked to the one you are considering? Looks sweet! Nice house on a nice piece of property. WTF am I doing living around Chi-town?!

That would be the one. The kitchen needs work, but the land is awesome, and the rest of the house is as well. The price seems a little steep yet, but I’m keeping my eye on it.
Come out of Chicago, it’s great out here.

Yeah - price looks steep all right! Here’s what $250k gets you in my town.

I gotta get outta here!

I work in the title/escrow industry. While you don’t NEED a realtor, strictly speaking, a good one can save you headaches, and potentially a great deal of money later on. By far the best way to find one is word of mouth. Talk to people you trust, and get referrals. Trust your gut, too, if you don’t like what they’re saying, get out. is a great resource for comping houses, as it lets you play with condition, view, remodeling, property details, etc., to arrive at a more accurate estimate. Even if you end up going with an agent, educate yourself as though you are going it alone.

Another source for comps is a local title company. They are required by law to be neutral parties, and can be relied on to give objective information. Call them up ask for customer service. They’ll be happy to help you out, especially if you tell them that you plan to direct the order to them. (You as a buyer have that right, exclusively, regardless of what the listing agent says.)

Good luck!

When talking to realtors, you always have to remember who you are talking to. If you are talking to the selling realtor, they owe you no allegance. They are there for the seller. If you mention that you really really like the house and are preapproved for more then the house is selling for, the info will get back to the seller and you may have hurt your ability to negotiate later. If the selling agent over hears you calling your SO and telling them that they HAVE to see this house, ditto. It’s got nothing to do with dishonesty. That’s just who the selling realtor works for.