Many sellers interview multiple agents as part of the process of hiring a real estate agent. And, just as you are sizing up a potential real estate agent for a good fit, rest assured that they are evaluating you as well. Be wary of agents who don’t ask many questions and/or who fail to thoroughly explore your expectations and aspirations for your property.
Questions to Ask When Hiring a Real Estate Agent
How long have you been in business?
It makes sense that the longer a person is in a business, the more experience they have and the better equipped they are to successfully negotiate your sale. Also be sure to ask if the agent works full-time in real estate; a part-time agent may provide part-time service. And when selling, in many cases, the estate’s most expensive asset, you deserve full-time, focused help.
What is your average list-price-to-sales-price ratio?
A competent listing agent will hold a track record for negotiating sales prices that are very close to list prices, typically between 95 and 100%.
Will you provide references?
Everybody has references. Even a novice agent will have references from previous employers. Follow these guidelines:
- Ask to see written references (the more recent, the better)
- Ask if any of the agent’s references are related to him or her
- Request permission to contact references for additional information
What are the top three things that separate you from your competition?
Good agents will welcome this question. They will fire off reasons why they are best suited to serve you and what they are do that others can’t or won’t.
Everyone has their own standards, but most consumers say they are looking for realtors who say they are:
- Honest and trustworthy
- Excellent negotiators
- Available by phone and/or email
- Good communicators
- Able to maintain a good sense of humor under trying circumstances
May I review documents beforehand that I will be required to sign?
A truly professional real estate agent will make forms available to you in advance, before you are required to sign them. Ask to review these documents upfront:
- Agency Disclosure
- Listing Agreement
- Seller Disclosures
Will you help me to find other essential professionals?
Your agent should be able to direct you to vendors, such as handymen, electricians, heating and air conditioning specialists, title/escrow companies, and the like. Have the real estate agent explain to you with whom he or she works and why these individuals were chosen. Ask for an explanation if you see the term “affiliated” in the name of some their chosen vendors. This could mean that the agent and his or her broker are receiving compensation from a vendor and you could end up paying a premium for the service.
What is your best marketing strategy for my property?
Specifically, how will you sell my home? How will you assist me to present my home to potential buyers? Find out what marketing tools the agent uses, including:
- What is your direct mail campaign strategy?
- How will you market to potential buyers?
- How will you market to other real estate professionals?
- How do you market online?
How much do you charge?
Don’t ask if their fee is negotiable because ALL real estate fees are negotiable. Typically, real estate agents charge a percentage, from 2.5% to 4.0%, to represent one side of the transaction – the seller or the buyer. So, for example, a listing agent may charge a total of 6%, representing 3% for themselves and 3% for the buyer’s agent.
What kind of guarantee do you offer?
If you sign a listing agreement with an agent and later find that you are unhappy with the arrangement, will the agent allow you to cancel the agreement? Will the agent stand behind his or her service to you? What is the agent’s company’s policy about cancelled agreements? Has anyone ever cancelled an agreement with this agent before? If so, what was the outcome?
How many Executors , Administrators and Trustees have you helped to prepare, market and sell property in probate or a trust?
Knowing the number of clients the real estate agent has helped to successfully complete a real estate transaction in probate or a trust is important. There are many specialized documents and timelines that need to be adhered to when protecting a personal representative and the estate’s legal and financial rights.
What haven’t I asked you that I need to know?
Pay close attention to how the real estate agent answers this question. There isalways something more you need to know, always. You want an agent who will take their time with you, to make sure you feel comfortable and secure with their knowledge and experience. A good agent knows how to listen and counsel you. They know how to ask the right questions to determine all they need to know to optimally serve your needs.