A really good real estate agent wants to be as good a fit for you as you are for him/her. In order to determine whether you will all work well together, you have to ask some important questions. A professional and experienced agent will be expecting you to do your due diligence and welcome the opportunity to answer your questions.
Here are some important questions to ask before committing to an agent:
How long have you been an agent?
Find out how many years of experience they have in real estate. Having a seasoned veteran can provide you with a certain level of comfort. Of course, just because an agent is in the early stages of his/her career doesn’t mean that they won’t do a great job or be a great fit, so go with your instincts if you feel strongly that a less experienced agent is the right one for you.
How much experience do you have selling in this area?
It is important you find an agent that knows the particular market where you are looking to buy or where you are selling your home.
In the last two years, how many homes have you sold to your clients who are sellers? Buyers?
The answers to these questions will help you to determine if they specialize in one more than the other. As a seller, you may want an agent that has more experience and expertise in selling homes as opposed to finding homes for clients who are buyers.
How many active clients do you have right now?
Finding out how many clients they have will help you evaluate whether they will have enough time for your needs. If they have a large number of current client, they may have a more difficult time getting your home marketed the way you would like. Of course, if they have a large number of clients, it may speak volumes to their abilities, so you will have to balance risks versus rewards.
Do you work alone or do you have a team?
If an agent works with a team, you can be more assured that you will get all your needs met more quickly. On the flipside, you won’t always be working directly with the agent. You will have to decide if you want to work with an agent who is still doing most of the processes on their own and can give you one-to-one attention, or an agent who has a team of individuals to help make the buying/selling processes move more quickly. This is a personal preference as neither is a better option over the other. The bottom line is, if you have a great feeling about an agent, whether they have a team or not, sign the dotted line!
What kind of schedule do you have and what can I expect in terms of returned calls, showing my home, etc?
Being straightforward in the process of finding an agent is crucial. So, ask up front questions and be in the know, and you won’t be surprised when it takes two to three days before you get to see a home, or it’s 24 hours before you receive a returned phone call. Ask how often you can typically expect to show your home, and how much notice you will receive. If you know what to expect and are okay with it, the relationship will be healthier and the experience of selling/buying your home will be a more pleasant one.
Do you mind texting only? Do you mind sending all communications through email?
Discuss your communication norms so that both of you are comfortable with how you will communicate. Again, the more you discuss and understand up front, the better the relationship!
May I have some references from previous clients?
Getting references from a potential agent is very important. Just like you would sell yourself in an interview, an agent is going to tell you all of their strengths and accomplishments. It is best to get that information backed up by former and current clients, so you can be confident that the agent is everything you would like them to be.
What are your fees? What are they for?
Of course, no one wants to talk about money, but let’s face it, it is an important part of the decision. Be careful that you don’t go with the agent who has the lowest commission just to save money because you know the saying… “you get what you pay for.” Instead, find out what the fees are for and whether or not you can negotiate and eliminate some of the things that the fees are for (like professional photos, a stager, etc…).
When you are buying or selling a home, your agent is such a valuable resource and an essential cog in the process, so it is important that you take the time to find an agent that is a great fit for you (often times, agents even end up as friends). The only way to determine if they are good fit, is to ask questions. Talk to a minimum of three agents and see which one is right for you before you sign the dotted line!