22 most common real estate questions

Whether you're working with buyers, sellers, renters, or a combination of all three, you're bound to encounter a number of real estate questions from your clients. To help you demonstrate your expertise and reaffirm you're the best choice for your clients, we've compiled a list of the 22 most common real estate questions all agents can expect to hear at least once in their career.

April 18, 2024

10 min read


As a real estate agent, you’re frequently in touch with renters, buyers, and sellers. And more often than not, they depend on you to guide them through the often complex world of real estate before they make a decision on their next home. This means your clients will likely have a lot of questions you’ll want to be prepared to answer. Here are some of the most common real estate questions you can expect to come up and how best to answer them to support all of your clients. 

The difference between a renter, a buyer, and a seller

Before we dive right into the questions, you need to understand the different motivators between renters, buyers, and sellers so you can answer their questions accordingly. Renters have different needs, preferences, objectives, and goals than buyers and sellers do. Because they’re looking for their next home but don’t have to worry about buying or selling a place, the guidance you give them will look a lot different than what you may tell a prospective buyer or seller.

For example, renters may seek clarification on lease terms, renewal options, and any potential rent increases. On the other hand, buyers typically ask about financing options, are focused on property comparisons, and might look to you for advice on negotiating strategies. And because sellers have a completely different goal in mind, they may put more emphasis on pricing or marketing strategies for their property and how to expedite the closing process. 

By preparing to navigate diverse client scenarios, you’ll be able to offer targeted advice and facilitate smoother transactions no matter which scenario your client finds themselves in.

Common real estate questions agents should anticipate

Real estate questions from renters

Here’s a list of questions you can expect renters to ask when they’re ready for their next move. 

1. Are utilities included in the rent, and if so, which ones?

In most rental properties, utilities are included in the rent and cover heat and hot water, with renters responsible for the electric and gas costs. However, some buildings have unique policies, where water may be included in a flat fee or handled differently. Let your client know that you can reach out to the landlord or property manager on their behalf to answer any specific questions about utility costs. 

2. Can I make repairs to the unit?

In most cases, a renter’s lease outlines which repairs are the landlord's responsibility and which are the tenant's. If the renter wants to complete repairs on their own, it’s best to ask the landlord before doing so. They might approve the repairs and even cover some of the costs for them. 

3. Is a guarantor or co-signer required?

The last thing a landlord or property manager wants to deal with is a tenant who won’t or can’t pay rent. To protect themselves, a landlord may require a lease guarantor in various situations, typically when a tenant poses a higher financial risk or doesn't meet certain eligibility criteria. Common scenarios include insufficient income, limited or no rental history, poor credit, or if a person is a first-time renter. 

4. What additional fees will I have to pay?

Before renters sign their lease, they may want to know what additional fees they’ll be responsible for. Fees can vary depending on the terms outlined in the lease agreement and local rental regulations. Some common fees they may encounter include a security deposit, rental application fee, pet fees, maintenance fees, parking fees, and lease renewal fees. 

5. How long has this apartment been on the market?

A safe and cautious renter will be curious about how long an apartment has been on the market because it might seem too good to be true or like there's something wrong with it. If the real estate search sites haven’t listed the information in the description online, you can do some background research or contact the landlord on their behalf to find out. 

6. Does the landlord live in the building?

A renter may ask you if the landlord or property manager lives on premise to evaluate how quickly repairs and other issues might be addressed. It also gives them the confidence that someone is always available if issues arise, repairs are needed, or if there’s an emergency. 

7. Is the building rent controlled or stabilized?

Over the past several years, rent prices have seen significant hikes with an average increase of 5.45% in 2023. For renters working with a budget or renters who are planning to save for eventual homeownership, rent controlled or stabilized buildings offer more peace of mind. Serious renters who have long-term financial goals might prefer a stable pricing policy in place and that they won’t be surprised by rent increases. 

Real estate questions from sellers

8. What should I do to prepare my house before selling it?

Communicate to the seller that if they want the home selling process to be successful, staging is one of the first steps to take to prepare their home. That means removing any clutter, ensuring it’s clean and presentable, and potentially enlisting the help of a designer to decorate the interior and exterior of their home.

9. Should I order a home inspection?

Conducting a home inspection is a smart and strategic move that can benefit sellers in the long run. It can reveal the true condition of their home and alert sellers to any issues that need to be addressed before they put the house on the market. However, be sure to also inform the seller that an inspection can be costly and that if any problems are uncovered, they’re legally required to disclose them to would-be buyers. 

10. How long will it take to sell my home?

On average, homes stay on the market for 69 days. But this can change depending on local market conditions, buyer demand, job market, rising home values, time of year, and your property’s type and condition. Factors like the buyer’s financing situation, for example, might impact the amount of time it takes for them to secure loan approval which can also influence how long a sale ultimately takes.

11.When is the best time of year to sell my home?

Research shows that spring, and the month of May in particular, is the best time to sell your house. March, April, and June are also considered optimal times for selling because the weather is favorable and properties tend to showcase well. In addition, families may prefer moving during the summer to avoid disrupting the school year while winter sees home sales typically drop. 

12. What is the selling price of my home?

The selling price of a house fluctuates depending on multiple factors including the property’s location, size and layout, condition, and features. You’ll need to consider what the supply and demand are like right now in your area in addition to evaluating the overall market. To give the seller an estimate of their home’s worth, you can conduct a competitive market analysis (CMA) or suggest that they use an online home value estimator on their own. 

13. Why is my home’s assessed value different from the market value?

Your home’s assessed value (the value assigned to a property for tax purposes by a municipality) is different from its market value (the price at which a property would sell in a competitive market). While professional appraisers calculate the assessed value, buyers and sellers impact the market value. In a buyer’s market, for example, buyers might make a lower offer than the home's assessed value. But if it’s a seller’s market, there’s a chance a seller’s home’s market value will be more than its assessed value because if there’s low inventory, buyers will sometimes pay more for what the home is actually worth. 

14. Are real estate commissions negotiable?

Typically, a real estate commission fee is 5–6% of the home’s final sale price. In many cases, both the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent split the commission fee 50/50. Sellers can negotiate fees, although it may impact the number of services the agent is willing to provide. If sellers are looking to pay slightly less in commissions, let them know that they can work with an agent-matching service. 

Real estate questions from buyers

15. What’s the average credit score I need to buy a home?

The majority of loan programs typically require a FICO score of 620 or higher. Individuals with higher credit scores pose a lower risk to the lender, leading to benefits like a reduced down payment and more favorable interest rates. On the contrary, those with lower credit scores may be required to contribute a larger upfront amount (or contend with a higher interest rate) to mitigate the lender's perceived risk.d

16. What is a mortgage and how does it work?

Before a buyer purchases a home, they’ll likely need to take out a mortgage and borrow money from a lender to buy a property with the property serving as collateral for the loan. The mortgage agreement outlines the terms and conditions, including the loan amount, interest rate, repayment period, and other relevant details. The homebuyer makes a down payment (a percentage of the property's purchase price) and repays the loan over a specified period, usually 15 to 30 years. The lender charges interest on the loan amount, which is the cost of borrowing. Monthly mortgage payments are made by the borrower to the lender until the loan is fully repaid. If the borrower fails to make payments, the lender may have the right to foreclose on the property, leading to its sale to recover the outstanding debt. 

17. How long has this home been on the market?

Just like you can expect this question from renters, don’t be caught off-guard if a buyer asks you the same. Buyers might want to know this information to assess whether the property is overpriced, needs significant improvements, or if there's an opportunity to negotiate a better deal. Additionally, knowing the time on the market helps buyers understand the dynamics of the local real estate market and make informed decisions about their offers.

18. Should I sell my current property before buying a new one?

Ultimately, the decision depends on the buyer’s individual circumstances, preferences, and the conditions of the real estate market in their area. Do they have the financial resources to pay two mortgages simultaneously? Are they willing to temporarily live somewhere else if they sell before their new house is move-in ready? Is buying a new home contingent upon selling their existing property? In either case, it’s best to help buyers evaluate the whole picture before they make a final decision. 

19. What is earnest money and how does it work?

Earnest money, often referred to as a good faith deposit, is a sum of money provided by a buyer to demonstrate their serious intent to purchase a property. It is typically 1-2% of the home's final selling price that’s held in an escrow account and is usually submitted along with an offer. If the offer is accepted, the earnest money is applied towards the down payment or closing costs. However, if the deal falls through due to the buyer's failure to fulfill contingencies outlined in the agreement, the earnest money may be forfeited to the seller. 

20. What happens if I decide to back out of buying a house?

If your client changes their mind about buying a home, the consequences may vary. During the contingency period, a client may still be able to get their earnest money back. However, if they back out of the deal after the contingency period and without a valid reason, sellers may have the right to keep the earnest money as compensation for taking the property off the market. In the worst case scenario, the seller can take legal action against the buyer if they breach the terms of the purchase agreement. 

21. How much will my down payment be?

You may have heard that it’s conventional to pay a 20% down payment but the national average for a down payment on a house is actually 14.4%. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, first-time homebuyers typically put down 8%, while repeat buyers put down closer to 18%. In some cases, such as FHA loans which are government-backed, buyers may only be required to put down as little as 3.5%. And some programs, like VA loans for eligible military veterans, may offer zero-down-payment options. 

22. How much will I have to pay in closing costs?

Closing costs for homebuyers typically range from 2% to 5% of the home's purchase price. These costs cover various fees and expenses associated with finalizing the real estate transaction. Common components of closing costs include lender fees, title and escrow fees, home inspection and appraisal fees, attorney fees, property taxes and homeowners insurance, and HOA fees if applicable. 

Become an expert agent

With the housing market and economy constantly in flux, your clients are bound to come to you with a lot of questions. As a real estate agent, your job is to answer them to the best of your ability. With the right insights and resources, you’ll be prepared to guide them so they can rent, buy, or sell their home with confidence. 

At RentSpree, we know that real estate agents are more than just market experts for their clients. If you’re an agent looking to streamline your processes, our platform offers valuable tools and services to simplify your workflow. From processing applications, conducting tenant screenings, finding quality tenants, closing deals, and everything in between, RentSpree can help power your rental business. Learn how by requesting a demo today.

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