With an ever increasing number of online tools available for home buyers, it can be easier than ever to buy a home without the guidance of a seasoned real estate agent. That still doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, however. This is particularly true for first-time buyers. There are just so many variables to buying a new home and so much that a seasoned real estate agent brings to the table. Here are three questions first-time home buyers should ask their agent.

  1. Where should I look?

When buyers begin to look at homes, they generally think about where they want to live in terms of commute times, walkability or maybe school districts. What they don’t always think about are things like tax rates, traffic, parking or zoning. Sometimes living on the north or the south side of a certain street can make a huge difference or living just a few blocks east or west may save you thousands of dollars or millions of headaches.

  1. What additional expenses can I expect?

It is a common misconception that owning a home is much cheaper than renting. The truth is, when you rent, your landlord is responsible for any number of expenses that suddenly become yours once you own your own home. These can include things like HOA fees, sewer, water and trash collection, property taxes, mortgage insurance and an entire plethora of upkeep and maintenance expenses. The big difference between owning and renting, however, is that all that money you spend on a home is building equity, while rent never will. By asking your real estate agent what additional expenses you can expect, you will have a much better idea of what you can realistically afford to spend on a mortgage.

  1. Would you buy this home?

Real estate agents have to walk a thin line between keeping their clients happy in the short term and making sure they will be happy with their purchase in the long run. Sometimes clients fall in love with a home that an agent can see a million problems with, but if that’s the home the clients decide they want, that’s the home the agent will help them get. Before you get too fixated on a home, ask your agent if they would buy it and why or why not.