10 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent

All real estate agents are not alike.  Many consumers choose their agent based on a gut feeling and looks.  It’s very important you ask questions of real estate agents before you hire one. Compare as many agents as you need until you feel comfortable and confident with one. Here are 10 important questions you should be sure to ask during your agent interviews:

  1. Do you work full or part-time as a real estate agent? Full-time agents are likely to give you (and other potential home buyers) more time and attention. They also have more experience.  Should you choose a family member or friend?  It may not always be a good idea.  Consider if you want your friend or family member knowing your financial situation. If the transaction goes poorly, how will that effect your relationship in the future?

  2. How many homes have you sold in my city or neighborhood in the past year or two? Many consumers would think to ask the agent how long they have been in the business. The reality is, an agent could have had their license for 20 years with only 2 sale transactions done.  Ideally, you want someone with a track record in your neighborhood and preferably in your price range with recent sales so they understand today’s market.

  3. How many sellers and buyers have you represented and do you represent both sides in a transaction? The answer to this could be positive and negative to your situation. A busy agent may be too busy and an agent with no clients may have more time to market your home but also have limited experience to really sell it. Ideally, you are looking for a successful and busy agent with a good support team around them.  Representing both the seller and buyer at the same time can also be a sticky situation, but can be done. Be sure you understand how and what the agent will communicate with you and the buyer during negotiations.  Some agents will bring in another representative from their company to represent or communicate with the buyer in this instance, and this is recommended.

  4. At what price do you think my house will sell in the current market? And why? Of course, this is an important question. The answer will give you an understanding of the agent’s knowledge of the market and their thought process in pricing your home, the most important decisionyou’ll have to make. An experienced Realtor will refer to the recent market data, the current pool of comparable homes on the market, and your home’s condition and amenities in giving you an answer.  If the agent is relying solely on Zillow estimates, the agent does not know how to evaluate your market.

  5. What is your advertising and marketing plan for my house? A blend of online and offline marketing will reach a broader spectrum of buyers. Know the manner and frequency of advertising and any open houses. The issue of open houses is hotly debated by professionals, many who feel they do not produce buyers. There should at least be an open house for other brokers, especially for buyers’ brokers.Many of the online websites give more weight to more photographs posted, thus your home will show up higher on a webpage. Ask how many will be taken and by whom. A professional photographer is preferable. Will there be an online video? If you want one, how and how will create it? Where will it be posted?

    Ask to see sample marketing materials. Compare it to the marketing plan & materials of other agents.

  6. How long have you been a real estate agent and how much education have you received? In general, the longer an agent has worked “full time” in the business, the more dedication to the profession and an ample opportunity to acquire a good sense of the market. As far as education goes, by law, agents are required to take classes to keep their license in good standing — so look for education that goes above and beyond their minimum requirements. Agents who also instruct other agents are much more experienced and versed in real estate laws, compliance and creative marketing ideas.

  7. Can you provide me the names and phone numbers of past clients as references? Ask if any of the references are relatives. Check out the references.

  8. Do you work with stagers or will you stage my home? In this market, your house has to be dressed to sell. Home staging on some level is a must, even if just providing advice on the ways to unclutter what you have already in the home. It is one thing to take a listing and market it and quite another to sell it. Ask the agent to make suggestions to improve the salability of your home – it will probably involve your kitchen and baths, the most common areas of buyer interest and generally the best home improvement return on investment. This should also include your curb appeal.

  9. Why should I hire you over your competition? The agent should have a ready answer. Most consumers are looking for a real estate agent who is:
    1. Honest
    2. Experienced in the local market
    3. Excellent negotiators
    4. Readily available by phone or e-mail
    5. Good communicators
    6. Quick to return calls or emails
    7. Friendly
    8. Analytical
    9. Successful in getting results

  10. How much can I expect to pay in sale closing costs? Understanding the bottom-line removes anxiety. Closing costs will include agent commissions, title fees, prorated property taxes, homeowner’s association transfer and disclosure fees, liens, assessments and seller provided home warranty, if negotiated.  You may also agree to provide a credit toward buyer’s closing costs.  How will all these costs effect your net when everything is said and done? You should know a good estimate of your costs before accepting an offer so there are no surprises when the final closing check is cut and it’s too late.

If you are looking to sell your home, we hope for an opportunity to meet you to answer all the questions above.    Contact us!

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