Buying and selling property and homes is a massive financial and often personal undertaking. Depending on which state you live in, the process can vary in how easy or difficult it may be. But what remains the same regardless of your zip code is how great of an asset working with a qualified real estate agent can be as opposed to navigating things all by yourself. Some real estate agents do a great job of marketing themselves through television, local ads, and the radio, but that does not mean that they are necessarily the most qualified or most skilled for the specific transaction you need them to assist you with. When looking for the best realtor for you, it is critical that you approach them very similar to how a prospective employer approaches a potential hire. After all, you really are the employer in this scenario, and they are looking to convince you that they are the best person for the job!
Before getting into the specifics of what you should consider asking, it's worth considering what a trained and qualified real estate agent does, and if you could benefit from their services and skillset.
Before Hiring: What to ask your Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is going to represent their client and their best interests throughout the entire real estate transaction. Whether it's helping them target and put an offer in on a home, market and sell a property, or help with the sometimes overwhelming paperwork that is associated with a real estate deal, a REALTOR is there for their client every step of the way. Many people believe that they can find every home available on national real estate websites, but real estate agents have access to multiple listing services that serves as an inventory of all available homes that include details not available to the general public.
In short, a real estate agent wears many hats, but they all involve working in the best interest of you, their client!
Every transaction is a bit different when it comes to real estate, so interviewing prospective agents before deciding upon one is a great idea. Going into the first phone conversation with a full deck of questions is a great way to figure out who is going to be the best fit for your situation.
How Long Have You Been an Agent?
There's no question that less experienced and/or younger agents can bring a certain dynamic that more experienced and/or older agents do not. However, real estate is one arena where experience plays such a crucial role between you getting the best deal possible or missing out entirely. Knowing how experienced your agent goes a long way in figuring out if they are the best candidate.
Do You Work with Buyers or Sellers?
While it is true that many agents work with both buyers and sellers, many work more predominantly with one than the other. When a real estate agent possesses a heightened knowledge of selling properties, it may be a better choice than one who usually works with buyers and home seekers.
Do You Work Full-Time or Part-Time?
There's no difference in how capable an agent may be based off of the answer to this question but knowing how much dedication they put into real estate versus another job can be telling. Some prefer to work only with full-time agents who they know will be putting all of their time and effort into their real estate dealings.
Are You with a Team?
Agents often work with a team of other agents to help with all aspects of a deal. If working solo with your agent is important to you, as opposed to multiple agents, knowing the answer to this question is an absolute must!
Do You Have References?
Real estate agents will often have testimonials and reviews readily available on their website. However, asking the agent personally for a list of their references is a great way to gain a more personal sense of how others felt their experience went. If there is no list available, chances are that something is amiss.
How Many Clients Are You Working with Currently?
A general rule of thumb is that if an agent tells you they are currently representing ten or more clients, they may not have the time to dedicate to you that you are looking for. While many clients point to success, it's a pretty double-edged sword. Fewer clients mean more availability but can also point towards sub-par results. When in doubt, feel free to ask a realtor with fewer clients if there is any specific reason.
When Are You Available?
One of the trickiest things about being an agent is setting concrete hours of operation. The job necessitates a certain level of constant flexibility, so the best agents will often be available when you need them. Most house showing occur on the weekends, so if the agent says they do not work on those days, that may be a reason thing may be a better fit elsewhere.
How Are You Paid?
Some people go without an agent because they don't want to pay for their services. In most cases, only a seller is going to “pay” their realtor, although that cost is usually rolled into the price of the property. In most traditional transactions, the buyers do not pay their realtor anything, and instead the seller will pay their realtor a fee that is split with the buying agent. Knowing how this will all work is a great way to minimize any surprises later on.
Questions for Buyers
If you are in the market for a property, knowing what to ask your agent that specifically pertains to buying a property is a must.
How Many Homes Have You Closed on Recently?
Whether six months or a year, working with an agent that is successful in the short and long-term is important. Working with a real estate agent that has a proven track record of success instills confidence and heightens the probability that you'll have success with them, too.
Are You Skilled at Negotiating (Ask for Proof!)
A great way to tell how skilled a real estate agent is with negotiating is by asking to see their list-to-sales price ratio. What this will tell you is how much their clients paid versus how much the asking price had been. Whenever their clients are paid lower than ask supports the notion that you'll be working with an expert negotiator.
How Can You Help Set Me Apart?
There are many things that an agent can and can't do for you in regard to helping you stand out. Due to the Fair Housing Act, agents can't divulge personal information about their client to help sway a seller. But experienced agents will have their own set of methods that have worked in the past to help move their buyers' offers up the pile.
Questions for Sellers
Selling a property might seem like it's as easy as putting up pictures and waiting, but it can be just as stressful as buying. It may be enticing to try to do this on your own, but the amount of work a real estate agent can take off a seller's plate is often worth every penny.
How Do You Market?
Understanding how your property is going to be presented is key. Down to the quality of the photos that are taken, you need to know that an agent is going to do everything they can to present the best image of your property to the public. With the pandemic still going on as of fall 2021, many have become well-versed in virtual tours to help generate virtual traffic and interest. With no plan, the quantity and quality of offers will suffer.
Are You Familiar with This Area?
An agent that knows your area and has had success in your market before can provide you with peace of mind that they know exactly what to do. A deeper understanding of your neighborhood and area can help with any type of marketing and when open houses occur.
Where Do Your Listing Prices Come From?
Any experienced agent will tell you that they have conducted a thorough comparative market analysis on your property and/or looked at sales of similar properties in your area. Many agents will conduct a complimentary CMA for you prior to any type of commitment to work with them.
How Many Homes Have You Sold Recently?
A pretty straightforward question to ask here. Knowing an agent's track record with sales is a strong indication of their overall quality.
What Do I Need to Do?
The best agents will be able to give you quite a few assignments to get your property ready for the market. Whether it's painting a railing that you've been neglecting or cleaning up the place before photos, there are always several things that a prospective seller needs to do to help get the best deal possible for their property.
The Bottom Line
Real estate transactions can definitely be stressful and time-consuming. Working with a strong real estate agent that has a proven history of success and experience can go a long way towards making the process as easy and rewarding as possible. If an agent has strong answers to the above questions, there's a great chance that they could be the best choice for your situation!Posted by Nathan Garrett on