Ten MUST ASK Questions When Interviewing an Agent
In order to assure yourself the best opportunity to NET the most money when selling your home, it is very important to hire the right Realtor to represent you. All Realtors are NOT created equal. Whether you are interviewing the neighborhood expert, a friend with a real estate license, or a referral from a colleague at work, you should be equipped with pertinent questions that will guarantee you work with a quality agent.
I have created the following list of MUST ASK questions based on my experience, responses from other top producing agents, and responses from my clients:
1) What is your MARKETING plan?
How do you plan to get my home the most exposure possible? What specific advertising will be done to market my home? From print flyers to television ads, what forms of media will you use? What type of internet exposure will you offer? Make sure you actually check to see if an agent has a website, and if so, how easily the agent’s listings can be viewed. Are open houses a part of the marketing plan? Who will sit the open houses? What is the Pricing Strategy? (Make sure they actually have one and are not asking you how to price your home) Lastly, in this day in age a Realtor should absolutely be having a Virtual Tour done for your home, or have a very good reason for not doing one.
2) Tell me about your real estate EXPERIENCE?
Ask the agent not only how long he/she has been in the business, but how much business they have done in the past two years. Simply asking how long they have been in the business is too general. Sometimes agents have been in the business part time for 10+ years but have actually only done a handful of transactions. Be more specific. Ask how many transactions they have done over the past two years. Also, ask if the agent does real estate full-time. Many agents are part-timers and have other jobs. If an agent is part- time recognize that they may not be accessible during critical times of a transaction.
3) What KNOWLEDGE do you have about the LOCAL market?
Does the agent live close by? An agent that lives in the community most likely offers greater expertise not only on pricing, but also on community related events, schools, parks, etc. Does the Realtor preview properties?
4) What is the RECENT SALES ACTIVITY in my area?
The agent should be able to provide all relative comparable sales in the area. But, make sure the agent is reviewing not just the sold properties, but the pending sales, and the active sales. Each category is critical in analyzing the data and deriving a strategy to properly price your home.
5) How do you justify the COMMISSION you receive when selling our home?
Agents hate this question, however it most definitely must be addressed. There are many different levels of Realtor available and many will discount their commission for various reasons. It is important to understand what the normal commission structure is, and why there is a discount offered. Remember, it doesn’t make sense to save a ½% on commission if the agent is going to provide a level of service that could potentially cost you 2% or more on your sales price.
6) What will you do to help me PREPARE my home to go on the market?
You don’t actually have to ask this question. However, listen carefully to what the Realtor suggests. If there are no suggestions, is the Realtor really concerned with truly helping you, or are they just interested in getting a listing. Most quality agents will not only offer suggestions on improving how your home will show, but will also provide names of vendors (termite inspector, handyman, plumber, roofer, window washer, electrician, etc) to help you with necessary tasks.
7) Will you describe a few NEGOTIATING STRATEGIES you have used that have helped your clients gain, or save, money?
Does the Realtor have any strategies for helping you receive top dollar once an offer. I believe it is imperative that an agent be able to describe specific negotiating strategies that he/she has used?
8) How do you plan on COMMUNICATING effectively with me/us?
This question is often times not asked, but is actually very critical. You want a Realtor who is easily accessible, by you, and by prospective buyers. At the very least you should have the agent’s cell phone, and when you call you should have a response within an hour. Updates from your Realtor should be regular, with email often times the best way to communicate without interrupting a work day, or sleep.
9) What type of SUPPORT does your office/broker provide?
Does the agent work for a well known brokerage, or a small one-man show? As with most things there are pros and cons to each. Before you list your home, make sure you understand the level of support your Realtor has behind him/her.
10) Please describe your real estate “Team”
Every agent has a “team” in some form or another. Some agents have partners, personal assistants, buyer’s agents, or dedicated transaction coordinators. Other agents, while not having dedicated personnel, also have people that work together with them on different aspects of a transaction. Most importantly, have the agent describe to you who will handle certain situations. If an agent is unavailable, who can you call for an answer? If an agent goes out of town, who will take care of things while they are gone? An agent cannot do everything by themselves, but it is important for them to explain who handles various details during the transaction.
I strongly encourage you to PRINT these questions to utilize when interviewing any real estate agent. If you have asked these questions and are satisfied with the answers you receive, and the answers were in fact honest answers, then I guarantee that you will have listed your home with a quality agent. If you are not comfortable with the responses from the agent interviewed, call me, or at least call another quality agent. Everyone deserves to have excellent representation when selling their home. Make sure you do your homework before making such a big decision.