TO ASK AN AGENT BEFORE YOU HIRE THEM.
So you've decided to buy a home (or perhaps sell one) and the question is how will you be able to make sure that you not only find your dream home but that you ensure that the real estate agent you choose to represent you has the knowledge and expertise to help you with the biggest financial decision you will make in the next 5 years?
Unfortunately, many people choose a real estate professional based on the idea that all real estate agents are basically the same. They sign with the first agent to come along, only to realize too late that they should have "shopped around."
The following questions are designed to help you avoid that mistake by equipping you with what to look for when selecting an agent to represent you.
First, start by asking friends, acquaintances and/or family for the names of real estate agents they know. A personal referral is the absolute BEST manner in which to select your professional real estate agent. Once you have compiled a list of names referred to you based upon a great experience, use this guide to help you determine which agent is the best for YOU. I recommend interviewing at least 2-3 realtors.
Here are the questions you should ask each agent:
- Can you send me some information about yourself?
Look for professionalism and consistency. What are their professional accomplishments? A good agent will focus on providing you with exceptional service before, during and after the transactions is completed.
- How do you approach your work?
Look for a businessperson that has a strategy and a support team to work with. If you're selling a home, ask them to explain their marketing plan and strategy to attract buyer's to get your home sold.
- How many homes have you closed in the past year?
Look for an agent who is active in your area. Part-time agents are simply unable to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the market. A good rule of thumb is a minimum of 10-15 transactions. Why settle for less?
- What is the dollar value of homes you have sold in the last year?
Beware of agents who use their company status vs. their own. If you are selling a home, look for things such as the percentage of listings the agent has sold within the last year.
- How long have you been in business?
Longevity in the industry does not always mean success. However, look for an agent that has been in the business for a minimum of three years. The fall-out ratio for agents in the business less than 3 years is over 80%. While experience is important, accomplishments are more important. How many homes have they sold in the area you are looking?
- Do you have a support staff working for you?
It is imperative that the agent has support in order to take care of the details of the transaction. How can your agent be actively showing homes to clients and working on the details of your closing at the same time? Things will fall through the cracks and that could cause potential problems for you.
- What will you do to keep me informed?
Communication is vital. Do you want daily or weekly reports from your agent? Will the agent be able to meet these expectations? Determine how much communication you want, and then find an agent who will give you the attention and time you want and deserve.
- Can you provide me with further resources I may need?
The best agents have built strong relationships with their “Teams” and can often get expedient service or be able to “cash in a favor” for you should a crunch or problem arise.
- Can you give me some references from other clients you have worked with?
Don’t be afraid to ask for references. An agent who provides raving fan service and is proud of their work will be happy to provide references. Look at their ratings and reviews on sites like Google, Facebook and Yelp.
- What is the best way for me to get in touch with you?
You should know exactly how to get through to your agent or assistant. Selecting an agent who will be easy to get in touch with and will be readily available when you need them is key.
- What awards or accolades have you received in the past couple of years?
Make sure that your agent is a professional, well regarded and at the top of the industry. They will be more knowledgeable and will be able to best represent your interests based on experience and reputation.
- Are you my Agent? And how will you represent my best interests?
Absolutely do not hire someone that you don’t believe will represent YOUR best interests at all times. Have your agent give you examples of how they represent their clients. Remember that finding the home is the easy part, true representation begins when you sign a contract and continues through negotiation and closing. Ask around for horror stories and you will find that they don’t involve the home search BUT after the contract was signed!