Questions to Ask: Choosing a Real Estate Agent to Buy or Sell a Home
How do you know which Real Estate Agent to hire?
You won't until you begin interviewing.
One of the first things we tell our clients: "Today we are going to learn more about our ability to work together. Should you choose a different Real Estate Agent to represent you, we will not be offended, just let us know."
It's important for consumers to understand that the Real Estate Agent will likely be interviewing them as well.
Without further ado, let's dive in on the questions to ask:
Is Real Estate a Full-Time Job For you?
The first questions you should ask a Real Estate Agent is if they work full-time. If the answer is 'no' that is a red-flag and typically is reason enough to move on to the next candidate. Would you want someone working for you part-time?
Availability plays a large role, especially in hot markets. Time is of the essence for buyers, so you want a Real Estate Agent who makes themselves available. If a home is listed on a Tuesday it could be sold by Wednesday morning, availability is important!
If your real estate market is anything like mine in Raleigh, NC buyers need to act fast when they find a home to buy. 33 is the average number of days on market, and any home worth buying is typically sold in a handful of days. Good deals are typically sold in the first day or two, sometimes in the first hour or two.
When interviewing a Real Estate Agent you want to make sure you hire someone who is going to give you a full-time effort.
What makes you Different from other Real Estate Agents?
Real Estate Agents come in many different shapes, sizes, personality types, skill sets, and work ethics. Which Realtor is right for you?
When interviewing there are certain things to look for. One of the first things I would look for in a Real Estate Agent is someone who isn't afraid to tell me 'no.' You don't want a salesperson, you want someone who is going to hold your hand and help you find the best possible home in the price range and location you're searching.
Too often Agents are focused on the number of homes they've sold and that is not a statistic that helps your clients.
How many Clients have you Helped?
Asking this question helps to demonstrate what type of experience the Real Estate Agent has. It's a much better indicator of experience than asking 'how many years have you been in the business?' Some Real Estate Agents have been in the business for 10 years and have helped 5 clients. While some Agents have been in real estate for 3 years and helped 50.
How many clients is your Real Estate Agent actively working with it? This is another great question to ask because if they have too many clients personally, they won't have as much availability to help you when you need it.
For sellers you will want to know more about the experience the clients had. Ask to see reviews, and contact information.
Who is on your Real Estate Team?
If at any point your Real Estate Agent pushes a mortgage lender on you, that's a red-flag. When we recommend a mortgage lender we always follow it up with, 'please don't feel obligated to use anyone we recommend.'
The reason we recommend certain folks is because we have worked with a number of people and have a select group we feel is the best to represent our client's interest. Certain people have a great chemistry when working together.
Team is a great word to describe your relationship with your Agent, your attorney, your mortgage lender, and everyone involved in the transaction. Who does your Real Estate Agent work with and why? The why is an important aspect. It's a big reason why we wrote an article on disclosing your relationship with your lender. Too many Agents accept money or gifts from Lenders and this is not right, at least in our opinion.
We are focused on our customer experience. When someone represents Raleigh Realty, whether it's an Agent or someone we work with. our brand reputation is on the line. There is nothing more important to us than our reputation among consumers. We are focused on our customer experience.
Do you require a pre-approval before seeing homes?
Clients spend months searching for a home to buy and finally they found one! It isn't until this point that they start speaking with a mortgage lender, and often times they find out they are not qualified to buy the house.
If you want to go look at homes without a pre-approval you are wasting everyone's time. Over the last year I have shown homes to around 50 people who didn't have a pre-approval and only a couple of them could actually afford the homes they were looking at.
Do you have Reviews and Contact Information from past Clients?
Reviews of Real Estate Agents is an important part of choosing the right person to help you. It's no secret that a lot of the reviews online are fake, which makes it important that you have videos and photos to back it up. Here is one way in which we are using video to tell a story:
This video is better than a written review because it's real. It's transparent. We started adding photos to every review because it adds a certain authenticity that other reviews lack.
Facebook is a great spot for reviews as well since you can look the people up to see if they are real or not. You can also message them directly on the social media platform to learn more about their experience with that Agent.
How will you Negotiate on our Behalf?
A great question to ask when choosing a Real Estate Agent to represent you is how will you negotiate on our behalf?
Whether your Agent is helping you buy or sell, they will want to have strong negotiating skills. Chances are they have already started negotiating with you since you met them.
Buying and selling real estate involves professionalism and a win-win attitude. If you negotiate to be the only winner you are doing yourself and your client's a disservice. A win-win situation is different for every buyer and seller... some will be more likely to give, and some will be more likely to take. It's about reading the situation, analyzing it, and determining the next best move.
Will you Attend the Home Inspection?
If your Agent isn't going to attend the home inspection or have someone who is going to be there for it, move on to a new Realtor. Real Estate Agents who don't attend home inspections or have someone to represent the client are doing everyone a disservice. There is no better time to communicate with the home inspector than when they are actively conducting the inspection.
You're investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into a home, you'll want to know every detail about the property.
We have a process for buyers and sellers, and a transaction coordinator to help a client's hand through the whole process.
What is your Competitive Advantage?
One question you want to ask a Real Estate Agent you're interviewing is 'What is your competitive advantage?'
If your Real Estate team doesn't offer any competitive advantages or doesn't know a way in which they can offer you one, move on. Too many pretenders out there for you to fall into that trap.
A lot of Real Estate Agents are chosen based on friendships or relatives, and that alone is not to your advantage. In many cases, it is a disadvantage.
Our competitive advantage at Raleigh Realty is the way we harness technology, marketing, our work ethic, and availability. Over 30,000 buyers and sellers visit RaleighRealtyHomes.com every month (that's a quick demonstration of our tech, marketing, and work ethic).
What if I am Unhappy with your Service?
At any point, your Real Estate Agent should allow you the opportunity to work with someone else. You should not be forced into a working relationship if you find out you're not happy with it.Asking this question gives you an opportunity to discuss what may need to happen in order to leave the contract you signed with your Real Estate Agent
If at any point you find that working with your Real Estate Agent isn't working you should bring it up to them. Talk to them about how you feel and see how they respond. If it isn't something that can be fixed, let them know.
It's important to let your Agent know if you've decided to go in a different direction. You should not be afraid to tell them that you've decided to work with someone else. There needs to be a mutual respect if the realtor-client relationship is going to work!
Hi there! I'm Ryan Fitzgerald, a REALTOR in Raleigh-Durham, NC and the owner of Raleigh Realty. Chances are you and I share a similar passion, Real Estate! I also have a passion for technology, sports, and people. Would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments section below and feel free to share this article socially!