Questions Homebuyers Ask Before & During The Search

What home can I afford?

That depends, of course—on your income and other financial obligations; plug them into a Home Affordability Calculator for a ballpark figure. And do it before you start shopping.  If you see houses you love outside your price range, it opens you up to disappointment.  Meet with a lender to get pre-approved for a home loan (added bonus: pre-approval makes you much more attractive to sellers).

Can I buy a home and sell my current one at the same time?

Yes, you can — but it's the real estate equivalent of walking a tightrope. This is one of the trickiest questions to answer. On the one hand, if you buy a home before you sell the one you're in, you're overextended financially.  If you sell before you buy, you might need to rent awhile before finding a new place. But there are ways to do both at once, and one option is to insert a “home sale contingency" in your contract. This means you only agree to buy a home if you can sell the one you're in. The downside sellers may not agree, especially if the market is hot and there is lots of buyer competition.

How many homes should I see before making an offer?

While home shoppers these days can look at hundreds of homes online, they only hoof it to check out 10 homes on average, before they put in an offer. But keep in mind, this varies tremendously for each person, as some people find their home within hours of hunting. For others, it takes months. If you want to streamline the process, it can help to really hone in on a particular neighborhood you're keen on.  That said, if you feel limited by your options, it may be time to expand to surrounding areas.

What do you think the seller will accept as a fair price?

As a rule of thumb, knocking 3% off the list price won't ruffle any feathers, but may not be the case in a busy market.  Sometimes you have to be prepared to go in over asking price. If it's been sitting on the market for months, you can venture below that, but the bottom line is, you never know how low a seller will go, as they all  have different motivations for selling. If the sellers are eager to move, you could luck out and score a deal.