5 Questions Real Estate Agents Hate When You Ask (And 5 To Ask Instead)

Asking the right questions can help you land the home of your dreams.
Updated July 18, 2024
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Buying a home is a huge investment — it’s likely the biggest purchase you will ever make. If you work with a real estate agent, you will have questions, and you shouldn’t hold back asking anything.

But while there are no stupid questions in life, there are a few queries that might irk your real estate agent.

Here are five questions real estate agents hate to hear — and five that you should ask instead if you want to find the right home and possibly grow your wealth in the process.

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‘Will you cut me a break on your commission?’

Studio Romantic/Adobe couple buying new house

Your real estate agent deserves to get paid for their job, just like you get paid for yours. While the commission is negotiable, you don’t want the agent to feel like you're trying to rip them off.

If the agent understands that you will make the sale process especially easy — or if you plan to buy additional properties soon and will use the agent to do so — the agent might be willing to negotiate.

But if you simply want to pay a bargain-basement commission because you are cheap, you probably shouldn’t go there.

‘Will you show me an expensive house just so I can check it out?’

goodluz/Adobe couple with real-estate agent visiting house for sale

Your real estate agent’s time is just as valuable as yours.

So, unless they also have an interest in looking at an out-of-budget house, you generally shouldn’t ask your agent to take time out of their day to meet you at a property you know you'll never buy.

‘Do I really have to get pre-approved?’

88studio/Adobe salesman uses stamper for stamping approved on mortgage loan

Getting a pre-approval saves both you and your agent time and stress. Skipping pre-approval will put you into a scramble when you do decide to put in an offer.

When you ask to skip pre-approval, your real estate agent will secretly roll their eyes and ask themselves, “Buy why?”

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‘Will you help me make a lowball offer?’

BalanceFormCreative/Adobe  real estate agent offer homeownership

Sometimes, you will make an offer on the low side that will be rejected — and that’s OK. But repeatedly offering lowball offers is going to annoy your real estate agent.

Many lowball offers are rejected out of hand, wasting everyone’s time. However, an occasional lowball offer might be OK if you find a house that has been sitting and your real estate agent feels optimistic that the seller is motivated.

‘Do we have any wiggle room on the price?’

Natee Meepian/Adobe real estate agent describes the loan interest to the customer

Your real estate agent doesn’t have a crystal ball. They may have intel into how long the property has been listed or whether the seller is eager to strike a deal quickly. However, they typically don’t have significantly more information about the seller’s thoughts than you do.

So, don’t expect your agent to be Nostradamus.

5 questions you should ask instead

amnaj/Adobe real estate agent handing

While none of the previous queries will get you to the answers you want when buying a house, there are a few questions that can help set you up for a successful home buying process. Here’s what you should ask instead.

‘Do you typically work more with buyers or sellers?’

amnaj/Adobe real estate agent handing

Real estate agents typically work on behalf of both buyers and sellers, but some focus more on one group than the other.

All else being equal, a homebuyer is probably better served by working with an agent whose bread and butter is working with buyers — a buyer’s agent, as opposed to a listing agent.

‘What value do you offer over other agents?’

Drazen/Adobe buying new house

You are going to pay a commission, so make sure you're getting the best value. If you are buying a house, what does your agent offer in terms of bringing you new properties or having the right contacts to find off-market deals? What’s their track record?

A good, confident agent is only too happy to tell you why they are better than the competition. Find out upfront why they are the best agent to work with.

‘What neighborhoods or types of homes do you specialize in?’

InsideCreativeHouse/Adobe financial adviser showing terms

Try to work with a real estate agent who specializes in the type of home you want or who's familiar with the neighborhood you love.

This type of agent will have more insight into what you should look for, what is a good deal, and whether or not you should wait to see if the property drops in price.

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‘Does this home match up with comps?’

Studio Romantic/Adobe real estate agent consulting

Rather than wondering whether there is wiggle room with the buyer, ask your real estate agent to pull comps so you can see what comparable homes are selling for.

This will help you compare the numbers and decide whether you are getting a fair market price or should offer a price under the listing.

‘What do you think is the best offer strategy?’

Drazen/Adobe insurance agent consulting

Rather than asking if you should lowball an offer, ask your real estate agent about the best offer strategy. The agent can offer insight into whether you should go in without contingencies or add in an escalation clause, for example.

The agent will have knowledge about what sweetens a deal and can guide you toward a winning offer.

Bottom line

khwanchai/Adobe home buyers meet

It’s fair game to ask any question if it makes you feel more comfortable with the homebuying process. However, asking the right questions is more likely to get you to the home of your dreams faster.

Your real estate agent is on your team — it’s in their best interest to sell you a house that you love and helps you get ahead financially

So, try to leave the least important questions unasked and focus on the queries that will move the homebuying process forward.

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Author Details

Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.