Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate Agent
So, you’re thinking about selling your house? But where do you find a quality agent? It seems like the options are almost endless. Many home sellers hire the FIRST agent that makes contact. But in a fast-paced market, interviewing multiple agents may be the best way to hire a quality agent to represent you.
Your real estate agent is responsible for preparing the necessary documentation, arranging photography, coordinating listing details, marketing your property, scheduling open houses, showing appointments, and ultimately, guiding you through the sale and closing process. That’s A LOT! Remember, it may be tempting to work with the first agent who is recommended to you by family or friends; a little research and a few interviews will help you find the right one for the job. When you are ready to interview, here’s a few questions to ask your potential agent.
1) “How long have you been in the business?”
I have always thought of experience as an asset. But, the length of time that an agent has been in real estate does not necessarily determine their ability… You may be interviewing an agent with 20+ years in the business, but, they only sell 1-2 houses a year. Or you may be looking at the next superstar agent who is still in their first year but works with strong, experienced mentors and managers.
2) “What are 3 things that separate you from your competition?”
The top agents will not hesitate to answer this question. As a consumer, you may want to look for a combination of the following characteristics:
- Excellent Communicator
- Expert Negotiator
3) “Are you part of a team?”
Some agents work by themselves, and some work as part of a team. If the agent is part of a larger team, you may speak with an assistant or administrator. But that does not mean you should be in the dark about who specifically will be working with you. Ask the agent about their team, how they communicate, and who will be taking point on your listing.
4) “How many clients do you currently have?”
Sometimes, working with busy top agents may come with some drawbacks. If you are anticipating daily follow up calls or weekly 1-on-1 appointments, working with a top producer may not be the best idea. While some agents can handle dozens of clients at one time; others only work with a handful. Just make sure that your interviewee addresses how they will best serve you and your needs. Pay attention to whether the agent works with more sellers than buyers or vice versa, it is more important than you think.
5) “How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?”
Whether the agent says “2”, “11”, or “32”; it doesn’t matter because your next question is far more important. “In how many of those did you represent the seller?” The answer to this question is the one you are truly looking for! Think about it. If an agent sold 20 homes in your neighborhood last year, but only represented a seller TWICE, you may want to further investigate their marketing plan.
6) “When will I receive a copy of the documents I am signing?”
This question should not trip up a seasoned veteran. Well prepared agents should provide a copy of any required documents at your first meeting, and should be able to provide any additional documents shortly after your appointment.
7) “What happens if my home does not sell?” OR “I am unhappy with the performance?”
The gut punch. This question may knock your prospective agent for a loop. I know what it feels like to explain how or why a client’s home may not sell. Or how challenging a market area can be. So be sure to ask the agent how you can terminate a contract with them. Unfortunately, you may need to eventually. The agents who tend to have your best interest at heart are typically the agents who can clearly explain how the listing contract and their company policies address listing terminations.
8) “What is your feedback system?” OR “How will you keep me up-to-date with my home sale?”
Seasoned agents should provide you with a clear understanding of how they handle feedback and follow up with you. Some agents provide their sellers with immediate phone calls after a showing, and others may provide a weekly email with feedback from potential buyers. (BONUS POINTS) go to the agent who insists on using the communication style that best fits YOU and not the other way around.
9) “How will you market my home? (BE SPECIFIC)”
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INTERVIEW QUESTION TO ASK ANY POTENTIAL AGENTS!
As the agent presents their marketing strategy, see if they discussed the following topics:
- What websites will your home be showcased on?
- Does the agent plan on installing a yard sign?
- Will the agent be scheduling an open house?
- Will the agent be marketing with direct mail?
More than 90% of all buyers find their home online. Up-to-Date agents know how to utilize internet marketing and social media as a way of reaching a MUCH LARGER buying pool.
- Does the agent use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media sites to market and advertise your property?
- Does the agent use a professional photographer?
Hopefully this post may help you find the “right” agent when you are ready to put your house on the market. Picking a “pro” can seem like an overwhelming process. But if you apply the strategies listed above, the true professionals will stand out from the rest of the bunch. Good luck!