A real estate agent can tell you what the asking price is on an offer, and they can provide guidance as to whether or not a seller will even consider your offer if your first suggested offer is too low. But ethically, real estate agents cannot tell buyers an exact dollar amount to offer on the home. Buyers are given the listing that includes the price and determine on their own whether they should offer the full asking price, or whether they should go a bit above or below it. Often the choice seems very simple. If the buyers are in love with the home and are happy paying the asking price, they will. If the buyers could see themselves there, but think the seller might have overestimated the value, they can offer a little less. But sometimes, the answer is just not that simple.
For example, what if you do love the home and would be happy to pay the full asking price, if there wasn’t all that work needed in the basement, or on the roof. While you might want to offer a bit lower than asking, you might not know how much. Because the agent can’t tell you directly how much to offer, you’ll need to know some other questions to ask to get your answer.
The best question you can ask is for prices of “comps,” comparable homes that are in the same neighborhood, and are similar in size and structure. If those properties have already sold you can ask what they sold for, and even for price ranges of multiple homes in the area.
Another great question to ask to get an idea of the home’s worth is to ask how long the property has been on the market. If it’s been listed for several weeks and hasn’t seen a lot of offers, it could be because the property is overpriced, which will give you an indication that offering less than the asking price would be acceptable.