19 Real Estate FAQs Answered

Are you thinking about buying or selling a home? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve gathered up the most commonly asked questions about real estate and answered them for you. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or an experienced investor, this guide will provide the information you need to make the best decisions for your real estate goals. So, let’s dive in and get started!

1. How much money do I need to buy a house?

The amount of money you need to buy a house will depend on various factors, including the location, size, and condition of the house, as well as the current market conditions. Generally speaking, you should expect at least a few thousand dollars for a down payment, plus closing costs and other fees. You will also need to factor in the cost of a mortgage, which will depend on your credit score, income, and other factors.

2. What is a Mortgage Loan?

A mortgage loan is a loan used by borrowers to purchase real estate. It is secured by the collateral of the property itself and is usually repaid in regular installments over a period of time, typically 10 to 30 years. The loan is usually provided by banks, credit unions, or other lending institutions and generally requires an initial down payment to be made by the borrower. The loan terms, including the interest rate, repayment schedule, and fees, vary based on the lender and the borrower's credit history.

3. What is a Mortgage Preapproval?

Mortgage pre-approval is when a lender evaluates your financial information—including your income, debts, assets, and credit—to determine whether you qualify for a mortgage loan and the loan amount you can afford. A preapproval letter shows home sellers that your offer is serious and that you are a financially qualified buyer. It typically includes the loan amount, type of loan, interest rate, monthly payments, and the loan term. It is not, however, a guarantee of loan approval. A pre-approval is typically valid for 90 days, and the lender will have to update it based on ongoing changes to income, assets, or credit.

4. What's the difference between a mortgage and a loan?

A mortgage is a type of loan that is used to purchase real estate. The borrower takes out the loan and then uses the property as collateral to secure the loan. The lender then has a legal interest in the property until the loan is paid off in full. In contrast, a loan is a type of borrowing used for various purposes, such as educational expenses, medical care, auto loans, or business operations.

5. How Can I Qualify for a Mortgage?

To qualify for a mortgage, you typically need to meet certain criteria, such as having a good credit score, a steady income, and sufficient assets to cover the down payment. You may also need proof of employment, bank statements, and tax information. Additionally, your debt-to-income ratio must meet certain requirements set by the lender. To be sure you qualify, you should contact a lender to discuss your situation.

6. What is An Offer In Compromise?

An Offer in Compromise (OIC) is a tax relief program offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which allows taxpayers to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount owed. This program is available to individuals, small businesses, and corporations who cannot pay the full amount due to financial hardship or other special circumstances. In a real estate context, an Offer in Compromise allows the taxpayer to settle a delinquent property tax liability for less than the full amount due, typically in the form of a payment plan.

7. Should you use an agent to buy a home?

It depends on your circumstances and preferences, but an agent may be beneficial when buying a home. An experienced real estate agent can help buyers find suitable properties, compare prices, negotiate offers, and ensure that all the paperwork is in order. Working with an agent may also give buyers access to exclusive listings and additional resources that may not be available to the general public. Ultimately, it is up to the buyer to decide if working with an agent is worth the cost.

8. How Do I Find a Real Estate Agent?

In order to find a real estate agent, you should start by gathering referrals from friends, family, or coworkers who have recently purchased or sold a property. You should also research different agents online and read reviews. Additionally, you should check with your local real estate board or agency to ensure that the agent you are considering is properly licensed and has no complaints or disciplinary actions on their record. When interviewing potential agents, make sure to also ask about their experience, whether they specialize in certain types of properties, and how they will market your home.

 9. Should you get pre-approved before you set foot in an agent’s office?

Yes, getting pre-approved for a mortgage is generally recommended before setting foot in an agent's office. Pre-approval means that a lender has looked at your credit report, income, and other financial information to estimate what you can borrow. This can help you determine the price range of homes you can afford and give the agent an idea of the loan size you qualify for. Furthermore, pre-approval can also give you an edge when making an offer on your preferred property, as sellers view a pre-approved borrower as more attractive.

 10. How do you calculate mortgage payments?

Mortgage payments are calculated by taking the amount borrowed, plus interest and other fees, and dividing it by the number of months in the loan period. This gives you the total amount that needs to be paid each month. To calculate the interest owed, take the principal amount of the loan, multiply it by the annual interest rate, and then divide that by 12 for the monthly rate. Finally, add the principal and interest together to find the total payment for the mortgage.

12. Can you use your existing mortgage to pay for a home?

Yes, it is possible to use an existing mortgage to pay for a home. This process is often referred to as refinancing. When you refinance a mortgage, you take out a new loan to replace your existing one with a new lender. Your original mortgage is then paid off and replaced with a new loan. This allows you to change your existing loan terms, such as the interest rate, repayment period, and amount borrowed. Refinancing can help you save money on your long-term mortgage expenses, but it could also come with additional costs and fees. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of refinancing before proceeding. 

13. What is the difference between a real estate agent and a realtor?

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who helps people buy, sell, rent or manage real estate. A buyer or seller typically hires them to help them navigate the market and facilitate the transaction. A realtor is a real estate agent member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Realtors have access to the NAR's Multiple Listing System (MLS), which gives them access to various real estate information and resources. In addition, Realtors adhere to a strict code of ethics and are held to a higher standard of conduct than real estate agents.

 14. How do I know if I'm ready to buy a house?

To determine if you are ready to buy a house, you should evaluate your financial situation and determine if you have sufficient funds for a down payment, closing costs, and mortgage payments. Additionally, you should check your credit score to ensure you can qualify for a loan with a favorable interest rate. You also should estimate the cost of home ownership and determine if you can cover these costs, in addition to other ongoing costs like taxes, insurance, maintenance, and repairs. Lastly, you should consider whether now is the right time to take on a long-term mortgage commitment.

15. How much money do I need for a down payment on a house?

The amount of money you need for a down payment on a house depends on a few factors, such as the type of loan you're getting and the house's purchase price. Generally speaking, you can expect to need anywhere from 5% to 20% of the total cost of the house for a down payment. For example, if you're buying a $200,000 home, you will likely need to put down between $7,000 and $40,000. 

16. What are closing costs, and how much should I expect to pay?

Closing costs are fees that are paid at the closing of a real estate transaction. These costs can include taxes, loan origination fees, title insurance, appraisal fees, and other costs associated with the transaction. The exact closing costs will depend on the type of loan you are taking out, the amount of the loan, and the state where you buy the property. Generally, closing costs can range from 2-5% of the loan amount.\

17. What is a mortgage rate, and how is it determined?

A mortgage rate is the interest rate on a home loan. It is determined based on the borrower's creditworthiness and the loan type they seek. The lender will review a borrower's credit score, income, debt-to-income ratio, and other factors to determine the best rate for the loan. Mortgage rates can also be affected by the current market conditions, such as the availability of funds, the inflation rate, and the direction of interest rates in general.

 18. What is the difference between pre-approved and pre-qualified for a mortgage?

Pre-approval and pre-qualification are two different steps in the home-buying process. Pre-qualification is the first step in the mortgage process and usually involves a lender collecting information such as your income, assets, and debts. Based on the information you provide, the lender will give you an estimate of the loan amount they are willing to offer you.

Pre-approval is more involved and requires more information. It involves a lender reviewing your financial background in-depth, including a credit check and verification of your income and employment. At the end of the pre-approval process, the lender will provide a written commitment for a specific loan amount, interest rate, and loan term

 19. What is a home inspection, and why is it important?

A home inspection is a professional review of a residential property's condition and its major components. Home inspectors will generally look at the structure, electrical systems, plumbing, roof, ventilation, heating, insulation and cooling systems, and much more. The purpose of a home inspection is to help buyers and sellers gain information about the potential condition of a home and its value before making a purchase. This helps to ensure that buyers are making a sound decision when purchasing a home and that sellers can set a fair price for the home.


Understanding the basics of the real estate process can help to make the experience a bit less overwhelming. By addressing some of the most commonly asked questions about real estate, we hope to have provided valuable information to those looking to enter the housing market. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or somewhere in between, it's important to do your due diligence, stay informed, and seek out the guidance of professionals. By doing so, you can make an informed decision that is right for your unique needs and goals.



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