So, you want to buy a home. That’s great! But are you ready? It might be news to some, but a real estate agent’s job is more than helping you sign a contract on a new home. They are also a great resource to talk to if you are not sure if buying a home is the right next step in your life.

Below are three questions real estate agents can help you answer today so you can start looking for a home tomorrow.

1. What will my life be like in 5 years?

Loaded question, I know. But it’s one we all must ask when taking on something as big as buying a home. A 5 year forecast of your life will determine what is best for you, your time, and your wallet.

If you are not sure, a good real estate agent can help guide you through a set of questions that will help determine if what you want now will be what you want 5 years from now.

Evaluating your job security and the neighborhood you want to be a part of is a great place to start. A real estate agent can help you window shop different areas around your neighborhood to see what is the best for you and your future family (if this is a part of the 5 year plan).

2. What am I looking for (and not looking for) in a future home?

Start with the basics. What do you absolutely NEED in your future home? Write down the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need to accommodate everyone. Once you’ve brainstormed your “need list” share this with your real estate agent. They will also help you fill this list by asking questions like: Does the home need to be handicap accessible? Additionally, think about the neighborhood. A good realtor will talk you through different ways in which a neighborhood should meet your needs. Can you see yourself living in this neighborhood for the foreseeable future? Things like quality of schools, parks (and neighbors) should be on the top of your “need” list and something a real estate agent will discuss in an initial meeting with her/him.

Knowing what you DON’T want will help your real estate agent, as well. For example, if you know you don’t want your washer and dryer in the garage, take note! Wall-to-wall carpeting makes you cringe? Put it on the DON’T WANT list and let your real estate agent know!

3. Are my finances (and credit) in order to buy a home?

When was the last time you checked your credit score? While there are ways to get your credit score for free online, there are many factors that go into a pre-qualification for a home, and only a lender can provide these answers.

For instance, if you have a low credit score of 580 or below, you will have access to loans like the FHA loan but will have a higher percentage on the down payment of your home. On the other hand, if you have a good credit score, like 680 and above, you will get approved for higher limits. In this sense, how much you can borrow from the bank will increase if you have a more reliable score. Additionally, the percentage on the down payment of the home will lower.

The good news is if the above information overwhelmed you, it is a real estate agent’s job to help explain the details and point you in the direction of other professionals who can determine if you are financially ready for the commitment of buying a home.

There you have it! 3 critical questions a good real estate agent can help you answer before buying a home. If you are ready to consult a real estate agent today to help answer the above questions, I’m ready to help!