A real estate transaction is one of the biggest financial decisions you'll make in your life. Selecting the right real estate agent can be one of the most stressful decisions you make in this process.
Whether you're buying or selling a home, your real estate agent is vital to your success. They can make or break the entire process for you. But how can you be sure you have someone excellent on your side?
We've narrowed down all of your burning questions to the 11 questions to ask a real estate agent. Keep reading for our top questions. Ask these and you can hire the right person for the job!
1. Can You Tell Me a Bit About Your Experience as an Agent?
Veteran real estate agents can better guide you through the home buying process. They've been there and done that, so they will guide you through any hiccups you may encounter.
Recent experience also makes a difference. It doesn't really help you if your agent has been out of the game for several years. Markets change rapidly and you need someone with current knowledge.
It also helps to weigh their overall experience against their experience in your area.
A well-established local agent knows the ins and outs of the local market. And they have established relationships with local professionals that can help you in the process.
2. How Many Clients Do You Have Right Now?
Your agent's client load can impact their availability and response time. You need to know if they have the time and resources to help you before you sign.
But, just because an agent has a lot of clients doesn't mean they are too busy for you. In fact, it shows that they are in high demand because they do a great job. Just make sure they have a plan in place to help you.
Ask them how long it will take them to get you a viewing for a home. This a good way to gauge if they have the time to meet your needs.
And ask about their availability. You need to make sure they are available when you're free to see homes.
3. Who Will Be My Primary Contact While I'm Your Client? What Will Our Communication Look Like?
Time is of the essence in buying and selling homes. You need to make sure that both parties are on the same page about communication. You need to know that your agent will respond quickly when it matters most.
How often is your agent available? What's their turnaround time for answering emails or responding to voicemails?
Ask who will handle your primary day-to-day concerns and questions? Will it be the agent themselves or someone else in their agency? It's important to know who you will actually work with before you sign anything.
Popular agents usually have a team of professionals that help them manage their clients. Ask to meet the person who will handle your concerns if your agent will not be the person doing that.
4. Do You Usually Represent Home Buyers or Sellers?
Many agents specialize in helping buyers or sellers. It's good to seek an agent who specializes in the process you want.
However, it's great to find an agent who has experiences with both sides of real estate sales. An agent who has experience with home buyers and sellers can provide invaluable advice on buying or selling your home.
They can also help you find a new home if you're looking to sell and buy something locally. That's awesome because you already have a relationship together.
5. Do You Specialize in Sales in Specific Areas or Neighborhoods?
Whether you're buying or selling a home, it's beneficial to hire an agent with local expertise. An agent with intensive neighborhood knowledge will know what's selling in your area. And how to sell your home more quickly.
Or they will know the market well enough to help you get into the home of your dreams. An agent who knows the ins and outs of the area can help you get access to a new listing more quickly.
Ask them how many sales they've closed in your desired neighborhood in the last year.
6. Can You Tell Me a Bit About Your Recent Performance?
Numbers matter in real estate. It doesn't matter how long an agent has been selling homes in your area if they never actually close any offers.
You need proven results especially if you are buying or selling a home in a competitive market.
Ask prospective agents on how many homes they closed in the last year. You're looking for an agent who closes over 85-90% of local agents. A good number of annual closings in 35 homes or above.
If you're selling a home, you'll also want to ask about their list-to-sale ratio. The list-to-sale ratio is a percentage derived from dividing the sales price by the listing price. The percentage helps to gauge how often an agent sells a house below or above the listing price.
Scores below 100% show that this agent sells homes for less than the listed price. A score above 100% means this agent sells homes at or above the listed price.
7. What Is Your Marketing Strategy?
Your agent's marketing strategy is crucial to your success. And it is one of the most important things you can ask about.
Take a peek at an agent's social media presence and content before you meet with them.
When you hire an agent to sell your home, you are hoping to gain more exposure for your listing. And a strong marketing strategy is key to your agent selling your home quickly and for the best price.
Prospective agents should be able to provide you a detailed marketing strategy plan before you hire them. Your agent should have proven strategies for listing homes. Most agents use social media marketing and analytics to understand the best way to market a home.
8. Can I See Your References?
Online references are a great place to start. Check social media and review sites for Yelp. High ratings are a good indicator that an agent is well-respected and easy to work with.
Read some references and ensure they sound like they are coming from a real person. An agent who pays for references is not someone you want to work with.
A sure-fire way to get an idea of what it's like to work with an agent is to talk to past clients. Their experiences with an agent are a great indicator of what it will be like to work with the agent yourself.
9. Do You Have Experience in Foreclosure or Short-Sale Listings?
Short sales or foreclosure listings are risky and complicated. If you're looking to purchase a home on the cheap, you want an agent with experience navigating these difficult legal processes.
Buying a short sale or foreclosed home without a competent agent could spell long-term disaster for your finances. You could get stuck with a house that needs extensive repairs. Or you could unknowingly buy a home with a rapidly falling value.
Hire an agent who understands these complicated sales so you don't end up getting burned.
10. What Are the Terms of Our Contract?
Most agents will present you with a contract once you work together. Make sure you understand the terms your prospective agent wants you to agree to.
Does your agent have penalties for canceling? Or provisions to cancel without penalty if you aren't satisfied with your relationship? And at what point in this process are you committed to working with them?
You should also ask about their fee schedule. What's included in their fees? For instance, do their fees include title work or is that an additional charge?
You don't need any surprise expenses along the way. Make sure you completely understand the terms of your contract before you sign.
11. Do you have a list of preferred vendors?
A real estate agent isn't the only person you must work with when you're buying or selling your home. There are tons of other vendors, like contractors and lawyers, you may also need to consult.
But how do you know who to hire?
A good agent will have a vetted network of professionals who can help you buy or sell your home. Your agent will know the right contractors, inspectors, and lawyers to help make your buying or selling process easier.
Know the Right Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent Before You Sign
Selecting a great real estate agent is the best first step you can take in the home buying or selling process. You need to make sure you have the right person on your team.
Properly vetting your agent before you hire them will save you time, money, and frustration. Buying or selling a house is stressful, working with your real estate agent shouldn't be.
Know the best questions to ask a real estate agent before you hire them. Use our guide above and find your perfect agent today!