I'm not your "politically correct" type of guy so I'll tell you like it is. There are alot of lazy and clueless Realtors in every part of the country. There are also alot of hard working, knowledgeable Realtors out there who will work their tails off for your business. There is no license violation for being lazy, its just bad business. Keep searching and you'll find one who will work for you and get you the information you request. Sign up that agent as a buyer representative so they can represent you in whatever home you end up purchasing and negotiate on your behalf, not the sellers.
As far as the simple questions you ask, that information should all be readily available. My sellers may not be 100% accurate but thats exactly how the information is passed along..."my seller states the furnace is approximately 5 years old". If they absolutely don't know that typically means they are quite old and that should factor into your pricing and negotiations.
As for untility costs, if a buyer wants to know what the current owner's average costs are I will attempt to obtain that information. However, I always explain that in addition to annual variations in mean temperatures we humans have our own personal thermostat. Some like it cooler and some like it warmer.
Murphy & Associates Real Estate
Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group, Inc.
Some things agents do not know and that is where a home inspection is valuable, when you narrow the search down and get serious. There are lots of great agent out there just waiting to work with you.
As far as knowing the age of the roof or utility costs, unless the seller knows and has shared that information, there is no way for them to know what to tell you. As for utility costs, that can vary widely from family to family.
It may not be that these agents are lazy but rather cautious. Unless I have a receipt in hand with the date, property address and name of contractor, I do not give out age of roof or furnace. Very often home owners have an idea of the age of something when in fact they might be five years off on the date. If I as an agent tell you that the home owner told me that the roof is 2 years and and you put an offer in on the home and then move out of state and find out that the roof was actually ten years old, who are you going to hold accountable?
The same thing happens with utilities. In my part of Wisconsin, I am able to call WE energies to get an amount of what the previous homeowner paid for one year. However, everyone's life style is different. Even if both homeowners had only one person in the house, I have seen heating and electric costs vary more than $100 per month.
I know this is not very helpful in your quest for information, but it is the truth.