Choosing An Agent

 

Before you select a real estate agent to work for you, be sure to sit down with them and ask them some questions.  Ultimately, you should make your decision based on if you trust them and feel comfortable with them.  The thing that makes it tough to even decide who to interview is that most real estate agents say the same thing:  “I’m Number 1”, “Top Producer”, “Award Winner”, etc. Most of what real estate agents say focuses on one thing…themselves.

As a buyer or seller, you only care about how the real estate agent can help you achieve your goals and put your interests first. How will the agent’s services directly benefit you?  You should select a strong company with a proven track record of success, but make sure the agent’s primary focus is on helping you, not blowing their own horn.

Many agents would prefer that you didn't ask these questions, because the knowledge you'll gain from their honest answers will give you a very good idea about what outcome you can expect from using this agent. And let's face it - in real estate, as in life - all things are not created equal.

Buyer’s Questions for Agents

  1. What are your working hours and when would you be available to show me homes? (Make sure their schedule will work with your schedule.)
  2. What neighborhoods do you work in?  Have you sold homes in the neighborhoods I want to look in? (Make sure the agent has worked in the area before and is familiar with the market in that area.  Agents who say “I will work anywhere” generally don’t have a good grasp on the market in all of the areas they are willing to work and it is important for agents to know what is a good price, etc.)
  3. How often will you communicate the new listings that have come on the market and how will you communicate with me?
  4. What are some ways that I can save money when going through the buying process?  How much are you willing to negotiate? You should hire someone who can be a good negotiator or a leader that will advise on how to also write the strongest offer. 
  5. Do you have a trusted referral network of people that will help with my transaction like an escrow agent, home inspector, lender, etc.?  (Keyword:  Trusted.)
  6. Will you help me buy a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) or New Construction?
  7. Are you a full-time agent?  (If the agent is not full-time, it means you are not getting full-time service and the agent may not be as familiar with what is going on in the market.)
  8. Will you represent me 100% or would you ever represent the seller too?  (You will want an agent that is exclusively representing you, unless you have previously discussed the situation with your agent and have an understanding of who represents whom.)
  9. Do you have any references that I could call or email? (An agent should always be able to give you references.)

Considerations for Buyers:

  • Make sure the agent asks you enough questions about your goals, needs, wants, finances (they should ask where your money is coming from and what your down payment will be) and what is most important to you.  If they don’t ask, they don’t care.
  • Enough experience.   You cannot just judge this by number of years in the business.  One agent might have worked for 5 years and only helped 20 clients and another agent might have worked for 1 year and helped 25 clients.  The best way to feel comfortable about the agent’s past experience is to ask for referrals from past clients and see what they have to say.
  • Does the agent know what the market is like in the areas you want to buy in?
  • Does the agent review the entire home buying process with you and make sure you don’t have unanswered questions?
  • Make sure you understand what (if any) your financial obligations are throughout the process.  Generally the seller pays the buyer’s agent fees, but if your agent is helping you with a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) make sure this is discussed.

 

Seller’s Questions for Agents

  1. How long have you actively worked in the area?  (While the answer to this question shouldn't necessarily be a deal-breaker, an agent who has worked in the area for a long time may be more aware of property values in your neighborhood.  However through diligent research, an agent who is not a “neighborhood specialist” can be very effective, too.)
  2. What comprises your marketing plan?  What makes it unique?
  3. How much internet marketing do you do?  (In this day and age, most buyers are looking on the internet and it is very important that there are photos of your home for them to look at.)
  4. Will you give me an estimate of what my net proceeds will be from my sale?
  5. After the house is listed on the market, what kind of feedback do you give me and how often?
  6. How often do you communicate with me?
  7. Do you have any references I could call or email?
  8. If you are representing me in my sale, would you represent the buyer too?
  9. Do you have a trusted referral network of people that will help with my transaction like an escrow agent, title rep, contractors, etc.? (Keyword:  Trusted.)
  10. Are you a full-time agent?  (If the agent is not full-time, it means you are not getting full-time service and the agent may not be as familiar with what is going on in the market.)
  11. What makes you different than the other agents?

Considerations for Sellers:

  • Pricing Opinions:  Get as many pricing opinions from agents as you feel comfortable with.  Remember that the best agent may not give you the highest price opinion, but it is probably going to be the most realistic.  Make sure the comparable sales used for the price opinion are really comparable to your property.  If an agent tries to “buy” your business by telling you a higher price than the other agents, this may result in a longer market time, more inconvenience for you and a price reduction later (after all the buyer excitement is gone).
  • Make sure the agent asks you enough questions about your goals, needs, wants, timelines and what is most important to you about selling your home.  If they don’t ask, they don’t care.
  • Enough experience.   You cannot just judge this by number of years in the business.  One agent might have worked for 5 years and only helped 20 clients and another agent might have worked for 1 year and helped 25 clients.  The best way to feel comfortable about the agent’s past experience is to ask for referrals from past clients and see what they have to say.
  • Do you trust the agent and feel comfortable with them?  If the agent uses high-pressure tactics or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, find someone who puts your interests first.
  • Does the agent review the entire home selling process with you and make sure you don’t have unanswered questions?
  • Make sure you understand what (if any) your financial obligations are throughout the process.