Buying or selling a home is one of the most important decisions you will ever make – and most consumers only make the decision a handful of times in their lifetime. Because of this, it’s vital to make sure that you are selecting the right agent for the job and aren’t just using someone your “best-friend’s, uncle’s, cousin’s brother-in-law” heard of once. You need an expert in the art of Real Estate.
The interview process likely will go both ways. Just as you the consumer are working to learn about the agent, the agent will also be getting to know you at the same time. Usually this initial meeting will be over the phone, at their office or another centralized location. This one-on-one time allows both parties to get familiar with the other, and also ask questions to ensure that you as the client are really interested, and for you to make sure that the agent really is the best person for the job.
There are plenty of questions that could be asked of a potential agent through this process, and the list below is not all inclusive. However, these are some that you for sure don’t want to overlook.
Q1. How Long Have You Been In the Real Estate Business?
It’s true that experience can only gained by having an opportunity to gain experience, and a fresh-out-of-school agent hasn’t had the advantage of a lot of transactions under their belt yet. That doesn’t mean they should be automatically disqualified from the job, however. If they have had intensive training, and have access to excellent mentorship, a new energetic agent can be the perfect fit. On the flip side, a seasoned agent will, in most cases, be your preferred person for the job. Years of transactions and sales experiences are the best teacher, and an experienced agent will be prepared to handle the most complex of situations – as they’ve likely dealt with it all before.
Q2. What Is Your Plan to Market My Home or Help Me Find My New Home?
When you are the buyer, ask what their strategy is for helping locate your next home. Are there websites they use to help filter home options based on your preferences? What will they do if there are a lot of offers put in on the same property? How will they best represent you and your offer? Are there only certain times / days they are available for showings? How many showings did it take for their previous buyers to find their dream homes?
As the seller, it’s also important to discover what approach will be taken to market your home. Will mailings be sent out to potential buyers – either through the postal service, or electronically – about your property? Are they connected with a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that propagates the listing out to all the agents in the area? How about photography or staging? Remember that selling your home is one of the largest financial transactions you’ll make, and it’s vital that the agent have a direct and intentional plan for marketing it. Sticking a sign in the yard and hoping buyers see it, is simply not enough in this electronic age.
Q3. What Did Your Previous Clients Think?
A lot of agents can point you in the direction of online reviews left by previous clients, however if they don’t have any there, it’s still okay to request contact information for some of the people they worked with on past transactions. A newer agent my not have many reviews yet – but they should still be able to provide references from previous employers. Just do your homework and make sure the reviews and references are legitimate, and take their past client’s feedback to heart.
Q4. What Makes You Stand Out Above the Pack?
It seems like there are Real Estate agents every where. They can’t all be the best, right? Ask them what makes them the right one for you. Take notice of their answer to this question. They should be able to tell you quickly (and authentically) why they are the best person for the job. If they hesitate, or say something canned like “I just am!” you may want to really consider allowing them to facilitate the transfer of your most expensive asset.
Q5. Will I Be Able to Read Documents Before Signing?
You know the old adage, “always read the fine print,” and the same is true in real estate. It’s okay to ask to review the forms in advance of signing. A good agent shouldn’t balk at this request and will offer to allow you to preview everything beforehand. Make sure to take notice of buyer’s broker agreements as the buyer, and agency disclosures as the seller.
Q6. What Will You Charge Me?
Most agents charge between 1% to 6% of the selling price to represent one side of the transaction. A listing agent will potentially charge 3.5% for themselves, and an additional 3.5% to give to the agent for the buyer, which totals out to a 7% fee. “You get what you pay for” rings true here as well – cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean a discount, because many times an agent that charges less for their commission may not feel like they are up to the level in skill of commanding a full commission, and that ultimately costs you more money and time in the long run.
Q7. What Happens If I Wanna Back Out?
Ask if you have the option to cancel the agreement to list or buy if you decide that you are not happy with the service the agent is providing. Will there be a fee for breaking the agreement? Remember that the agent works for you, not the other way around.
Q8. What Haven’t I Thought Of?
Hear out what the agent says in response to this question. Perhaps there is something you hadn’t considered that they will bring up. Ensure that you are comfortable with their answer and you feel confident they can be a trusted adviser to navigate you through the process of listing or buying in a timely manner.
Expect to have a few questions from the agent directed towards your needs and wants as well. A good agent should take the time to hear what you want, and then implement a solid strategy to make sure that the transaction goes as smoothly as possible and that all parties are satisfied when all is said and done.