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15 Questions to Ask Your Realtor Before Starting House Hunting

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15 Questions to Ask Your Realtor Before Starting House Hunting

It takes about four months, on average, for buyers to find a home.

This process, however, can get even more drawn out when a client isn’t on the same page as their realtor about what they want to see. Communication is vital during the search, as it's how you'll get a realtor on your side and ready to do the best job for you.

If you want your house-hunting to go smoothly, here are the 15 questions you need to ask your realtor. 


1. How Long Have You Been a Realtor?


While a new realtor might be incredible at their job, real estate agents who have been around longer are more guaranteed to be! If a realtor has been doing the same job for years, then they've likely seen every problem and solution and won't be phased by very much.

They also know how to get you the best deal and get the process over with as quickly as possible.

For the best experience with a realtor, ensure they have a few years under their belt.

You should also ensure they're licensed. The requirements vary by state, but a real estate agent with no license is not one you want to work with.


2. Do You Help Primarily With Buying or Selling?


Some realtors have helped with both buying and selling in their careers, while others have focused on one. The main thing you want to look for is that your real estate agent has concentrated primarily on buying, at least recently.

While a realtor who sells houses may have an amazing track record and be talented at what they do, buying can be a whole different ballgame. 


3. Can You Explain Your Process?


You should also ask any real estate agents you're considering hiring what their process is for finding homes for you to look at. While the house buying process in general looks similar for most people in terms of paperwork and meetings, finding and recommending homes is down to your realtor (though you're welcome to look too).

Listen closely to their answer. They should be taking into account your desires and mentioning that they're specifically looking for homes that fit both your budget and your wants. If their process seems a little random, they may not be the right one for you.


4. How Long Have You Worked in This Area?


As well as asking how long the real estate agent has been in business, you should also ask them how long they've worked in that specific area. That way, they'll know the neighborhood you're looking at well and will be able to give you more personalized advice on whether you should go for the purchase or not.

It also means they may have better relationships with other professionals in the area, such as lenders and home inspectors.


5. What's Your Availability Like?


It would be inconsiderate to expect a professional to be available 24/7, but you should at least ask what your realtor's availability is like. The main thing you're looking for is that their schedule aligns with yours.

For example, if you work 9-5 during the week and won't be able to go and look at houses during that time, you're probably going to need a realtor who can do evenings and weekends. If you're more flexible than that, that's awesome — but you just need to make sure your availabilities both match, or you'll never be able to go and view houses.


6. Do You Work Full-Time or Part-Time?


Similarly, asking if they work full-time or part-time will give you a good idea of when they're contactable. There's nothing wrong with being a part-time realtor, but it depends on what you, as a client, need.

If you need a more dedicated realtor, however, you might want to consider someone full-time.


7. What's the Best Way to Contact You?


Much like people in general, realtors have different preferred contact methods. These may be:

  • A call
  • A text
  • An email

There's nothing inherently wrong with any of these methods, but you need to make sure you know how to contact them in a hurry, and you need to make sure you're comfortable with the method. For example, if you're uncomfortable on the phone or often in meetings, you might need a realtor who's willing to settle for texting.


8. How Many Clients Do You Have?


If a realtor has hundreds of clients and seems snowed under, then you may want to reconsider them — but you also don't want a realtor who has no clients, as it suggests they aren't very popular!

They should have a few clients at a time.


9. How Many Houses Do You Help Buy a Year?


Likewise, they should help with a good number of houses a year — especially because realtors are usually working on commission, so it raises the question of how they make money if they aren't. They should have a solid number of average bought houses, though this may vary per area, so it's a good idea to consider if you live in a big city or a more rural neighborhood.


10. Would I Be Working With a Team?


26% of realtors are part of a team, while the others operate independently. None is better than the other, but it's good to know what your preferences are and what to expect.

Some people want a relationship with their realtor where that's the only person they have to deal with, while others might like the idea of having second opinions around them.

Consider what it is you want, and factor their answer in along with everyone else when it comes to a hiring decision.


11. Have You Helped Specifically With This Budget and Desires?


Although your realtor may have been in business for years, you should make sure they've helped specifically with the kind of house you're looking for. For example, if your realtor primarily deals with luxury purchases that involve millions of dollars, they may not be the best person to help you find a two-bedroom townhome (and vice versa).


12. Tell Me About the Commission


Typically, the commission is 5-6% of the home's total price. Anything far above or even far below is a red flag, as most realtors will stick to the average. 

Make sure you understand how much commission they're going to get from the sale as well as how they get paid. This helps you with peace of mind as you know you won't be out of pocket for anything and that you're paying a fair rate for their services.


13. Do You Have Relationships With Others in the Process?


Having a realtor who's well-connected in the housing market can be critical to ensuring a smooth process. For example, they should be able to recommend lenders, home inspectors, and other professionals who can come in at different steps of the process and help you out.

Otherwise, you have to find these people on your own, which can be added stress during a very important time.

They don't need to be connected to everyone, but some solid recommendations and suggestions also imply that they're well-respected by other professionals in the housing market since they're willing to ally with your realtor.


14. What Red Flags Should I Look for?


When you've described the kind of home you want and asked if your realtor can help, it's a good idea to ask them if there are any red flags you should look for — whether it's in the selling process or the home itself.

A good realtor should have a list ready to go. They've been doing this for a while and have likely experienced red flags a hundred times over, so there should be some anecdotal references they can use to give you some solid advice.


15. Do You Have References?


When you've decided that it seems like the realtor you're talking to is the one for you, it's time to ask for references. While that can feel awkward, realtors are used to people asking for these (since it can be hard to find reviews for them online) and should be able to provide reference letters or put you in contact with people who enjoyed the process with them.

You don't need a lot. Two or three should be enough to assure you that clients have had positive experiences with this realtor.


Ask These Questions for a Smooth House-Hunting Process


When you begin your house-hunting journey, don't just hire the first realtor you come across. Take the time to ask them some questions, and don't worry — realtors are used to this and understand you want to find the best person for the job!

Ready to find your perfect real estate agent? Check out our site, where you can find great realtors in your area.