Hiring someone by recommendation alone is a bad idea. Just because they were right for them doesn’t mean that they will be right for you.
It’s always a good idea to interview a few so you can get to know them personally and see whether or not you could work together. Not every agent is going to have their goals aligned with yours, so it’s important for you to ask them as many questions as possible.
That’s why we’ve come up with the top 9 questions you should be asking your Realtor©:
1. Can I see your references?
Real estate agents are more likely to emphasize all of their positives, but they can’t tell you what it’s like to work with them on a daily basis. That’s why it’s important for you to ask any real estate agent you interview for references.
Don’t be afraid to call them and ask about their experience with the agent. Were they pleased with their performance? Were they easy to communicate with? Did the agent keep them updated? And most importantly, would they recommend them to others?
Word of mouth is key in the real estate business so getting a positive review from a past client will let you know whether the agent is worth your time or not.
2. How many clients do you currently have?
There’s no way of telling how many clients an agent can effectively handle at once. However, the number of clients they’re working with can indicate the amount of time the agent will have for you.
Agents with a lot of clients will have to divide their time, meaning less one on one time with you. Having an agent who's always with other clients or who is difficult to reach will leave you frustrated and could negatively impact the sale or purchase of your home. Working with an agent who doesn’t give you much attention may not take the time to meet all of your needs.
That being said, an agent with very few clients could mean they weren’t highly recommended or have very little experience. Perhaps the agent only works part-time, which could limit the amount of attention they will give you.
Weigh out the pros and cons of having a busy agent and ask yourself if you’re willing to compromise experience for personal attention.
3. How will you market my house?
It’s easy to put a for sale sign on the lawn but what about potential buyers who may not drive by? If a buyer is new to town, chances are they won’t have the time to go down every street in every neighbourhood to look for a house.
It’s important to think beyond the for-sale sign and expand your options along with your competition. One of the biggest advantages of hiring a real estate agent is their access to resources for marketing your home. And so, it’s important to ask each agent you interview how they plan to market your house.
Listing it on MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is a good start but there are other ways the agent can market your house as well, such as newspaper or magazine ads, print flyers and brochures, and host open houses.
Today, the most common place for selling or buying homes is on the internet. With all the different real estate website’s out there it makes it easier for buyers and sellers to connect - if your agent is promoting your home on the right types of websites and with the right types of online ads.
Ask your agent how they use the internet to attract prospective buyers. Do they have an active and engaged following in social media? Do they take full advantage of technology to showcase your house using things such as video tours, 360 degree panoramic photos, and even virtual reality?
What are they going to do to make your property stand out and generate the demand it will take to get it sold as quickly as possible?
4. How much experience do you have?
An agent's experience isn’t just about how many years they’ve been in business. One factor to consider is their list price to selling price ratio. You can get the ratio by comparing the original listing price of the property with the price it actually sold for and any good agent will come prepared with their number. Choose an agent with a ratio close to 100%, meaning previous homes they have sold went for the original listing price or close.
However, even if their number is impressively high you may want to find out why. The agent could let the house sit on the market for a long period of time in order to get the best price, which depending on your situation may or may not work.
An agent with a low number could mean they push the sales too quickly. Most agents want to get a higher sale price so they can get a bigger commission but sometimes their time is more valuable to them and think they would be better off selling other houses.
Another fact to consider when determining the agents experience is the types of homes they’ve sold. They could be experienced in selling properties that aren’t similar to yours or specialize in commercial real estate as opposed to residential.
Methods of advertising and their knowledge of the market will vary greatly depending on the type of property you’re selling and perhaps their expertise may not be suited for your needs. If you’re buying a home, having an agent with expertise in a particular area you’re interested in will be a big asset to your search. To find you the neighbourhood and property that best fits your needs a qualified agent should keep your present and future needs in mind.
5. How will we communicate?
Like in all relationships, communication is important. Same goes with your Realtor©. You’ll want to know up-front how they plan to keep in contact with you and what kind of information they’ll update you on and the frequency of the updates. Will they let you know about every potential buyer, even if it’s not serious?
If you’re buying a home there are lots of details to handle, even after the seller has accepted your offer. Home inspection, re-inspection, title search, title insurance, repairs, etc., these are just a few of the things you would want your real estate agent to keep you up-to-date on.
Will they be updating you on a weekly basis or only as needed and will it be via telephone, email, text or maybe a combination? We all have our own preferences and it’s important to find an agent who can accommodate them.
Be sure to ask the agent how accessible they will be for you since you may have a lot of questions about the buying/selling process. Find out what their business hours are and if it’s ok for you to contact them outside of those hours. Also, don’t hesitate to ask them how long they typically take to respond to emails.
It’s always smart to verify their responses with their references, even if they’re positive.
6. Do you work alone or are you part of a team?
Nowadays real estate teams are quite common. Whether they work as two agents sharing the work, one agent with support staff, or several agents from the same business, you want to know who you’ll be working with.
There can be both positives and negatives to working with a real estate team. One disadvantage to working with a team is you may not always be working with the agent you originally hired or if you call to ask a question you may not get the agent you’re most familiar with.
However, an advantage to working with a team could mean that you’ll get more personalized attention. The more people there are to do the behind-the-scenes work for your agent the more time they will get to spend with you.
If you agent is part of a team find out what work they handle and whether you’ll be in contact with them or other members of their team. Ask them if the number they’re giving you is their direct line or if it goes to a secretary or other agents.
If the agent is working alone find out what their current workload is like.
7. Can you provide a CMA (Comparative Market Assessment)?
A CMA or Comparative Market Assessment is a listing of homes that recently sold and are currently for sale in your area and every real estate agent should be able to give you one.
The CMA will compare the specifics of your home, such as square footage, number of bedrooms, and price, with similar homes on the market. This will give you an idea of how your home compares to other homes currently selling in your neighbourhood and what you should list it for.
This should be a priority in the process of selling and a good agent will make sure of it. CMA’s will give you important information like what types of homes and features are buyers in the area looking for, how much similar homes are selling for, and how long are they staying on the market before they sell.
This information can help you determine your home’s value and sales potential and whether your agent’s advice is up-to-date with current market trends or not.
8. What are your fees and commission?
It’s important to talk money with each agent you interview.
Most agent’s will take a percentage of the home’s sale price as opposed to charging you a flat rate. Typically, agents take between 4-6% commission from the selling price, however it can depend on the agent and the market you're in.
Depending on the sale price of your home this can be a big amount so don’t be afraid to ask the agent if it’s negotiable. Depending on the market, the agent may or may not want to negotiate their fees. If the market is hot agents may lower their commissions since homes are easier to sell, however if the market is slow, the agent may be less likely to negotiate.
If the agent’s commission is an issue try to find ways you can help the agent and reduce the amount of work they do in order to get a lower rate. Using a single agent for selling and buying a home may also get you a discount.
You’ll want to make sure that if an agent is willing to lower their commission fee it won’t be sacrificing the level service they provide. It’s also important for you to ask the agent what their cancelation policy is like, just in case things don’t work out.
9. What Certifications do you hold?
All real estate agents should be licensed by their local regulatory board and it’s important for you to check if it’s still valid.
Most real estate agents are a member of the NAR (National Association of Realtors), which means they have formally agreed to abide by the organization’s code of ethics, however, some agents take their education even further by earning advanced designations and certifications.
In order to obtain these distinctions, real estate agents have to take additional specialized training. The skills that an agent can provide to your particular needs can be defined by the accreditations they hold.
Depending on your situation, certain credentials may be more crucial than others. For example, if you’re selling your home teaming up with an agent who has a designation in SRS (Seller Representative Specialist) would be more beneficial since selling homes is what they specialize in, however there are many more to list. Do a google search for real estate designations and try to find a real estate agent that specializes in what you need.
People who read this post also read:
How To Choose The Right Realtor For You
Getting Your House Ready To Sell
http://www.reco.on.ca/buyer-seller-news/10-questions-to-ask-when-hiring-a-real-estate-professional/ https://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/questions-home-sellers-should-ask-agents-1.aspx#slide=5 https://www.nar.realtor/education/designations-and-certifications